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Last Friday, Karen Prell, an artist and animator at Bellevue-based Valve Software, delivered a stunning presentation to roughly 130 students in DigiPen’s Plato Auditorium. The subject was the three phases of Prell’s rather unorthodox career, in which she has contributed to a number of classic television, film, and video game properties as both a puppeteer and animator.

Prell spent much of her presentation talking about her early career as a puppeteer on various Jim Henson projects, including Fraggle RockSesame StreetLabyrinth, and numerous other Muppet productions. To her audience’s delight, she demonstrated the use of a few puppets with the help of student volunteers. Then she spoke about transitioning from puppetry to character animation, where she worked on films including Monsters Inc.Toy Story 2, and A Bug’s Life.

Finally, Prell talked about her recent move from the film industry to the video game industry, where she has animated characters in such Valve titles as Team Fortress 2Left 4 Dead, and Left 4 Dead 2. Her presentation ended with a trailer for the upcoming Portal 2, which earned her a standing ovation — and more than a few requests for autographs.

We’re thrilled that Prell was able to share her experience with DigiPen’s student body, and hope her example inspires others to reach similar heights.

To learn more about Prell’s work, head to