ORANGE PARK – The animation director for “The Simpsons” who grew up in Orange Park won his first Emmy last month.
Carlton Batten has worked on the famed FOX series – now owned by Disney – for years. The show has been nominated for an Emmy several times, but the Outstanding Animated Series award on Sept. 22 was Batten’s first.
“One minute, I was just sitting there listening to the other categories and then, all of a sudden, they announced our category and we won,” Batten said. “There was a lot of celebrating and being hustled throughout paces – getting the statues, photos, questions, etc. – for the next 30 minutes or so.”
Batten said he and the team were released back into the lobby after that to celebrate with family and friends. After the show, the celebration continued at the Governor’s Ball where Batten and all of the other nominees celebrated together, an experience Batten said he’ll never forget.
Batten was in between fifth and sixth grade enjoying summer break when his family moved to Orange Park. He attended Lakeside Middle for three years before starting high school at Orange Park. After one year there, he transferred to St. Johns where he played basketball and soccer.
Before he joined the animated TV series he went to the University of Florida for finance. Batten graduated from UF in 1988 and worked for a finance company in Jacksonville for one year before moving to Los Angeles.
While his life in Clay County seemed void of a connection to his future career, Batten attributes his success to a relationship he built in the area.
Batten met Tom Tierney in high school before the two became roommates at UF. Tierney moved to Los Angeles a couple of years before Batten to pursue a career in music.
“We stayed in touch and I moved in with him when I got to L.A.,” Batten said. “HIs day job at the time was at Marvel Entertainment, an animation studio.”
Batten joined Tierney and other Marvel Entertainment employees on Friday evenings for drinks after work. Batten began to make connections that opened the door into the world of animation.
“Eventually, one of those people called me and offered me an entry-level job at Warner Bros. Animation, where she had just been hired,” Batten said. “It took many years and a lot of animation experience to get to my current position, but I wouldn’t have gone into this field if it hadn’t been for Tommy.”
Batten works as a Timing Director for The Simpson’s today. He planned the pacing of the show’s animation and creates blueprints for animators to follow. Batten charted every in-between and camera move in each scene and timed it to be as funny as possible.
This wasn’t the first year he and his crew had been nominated for an Emmy, but it was the first win.
“I was part of the group that received (Emmy awards) for The Simpsons TV series, which won in the Outstanding Animated Program category,” Batten said.
While Batten now lives life in the Burbank area of Los Angeles, he still visits Orange Park often. Despite laying down new roots in California, he’s still a big Florida Gators fan, and he follows their football and basketball team closely.
“It still feels like home to me,” Batten said.