MFA, Animation & Digital Arts '18
What is Persistence of Visionaries (POV) and what is your role in the organization? Persistence of Visionaries (POV) is the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts’ student government. We are made up of second year graduate students, with roles varying from President to Faculty Liaison. I am the Co-President Student Chair with David Nessl, the Co-President of Studio Day. As the president, I work on facilitating events that will bring the students together, from decorating welcoming cubes to throwing parties to get everyone to know one another.
What kinds of activities does your organization sponsor or support?
Our biggest job is to put on the annual event ‘Studio Day’, where animation industry professionals come to USC. The industry professionals meet with Animation and Digital Arts students to review their portfolios and talk about their work. It’s an amazing way for students to get noticed by and receive feedback from the studios. From the event, students have received professional contacts, internships, or even jobs from this annual event.
What are you, personally, studying and how has being involved with POV, enhanced your studies?
I am in my second year in the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts MFA program and am working towards becoming a Story Artist and Director. Being involved in POV has greatly enhanced my experience here. I’ve gotten to know my fellow classmates better through their events. Through POV’ Studio Day, I have made incredible contacts and received invaluable feedback. I learned how to improve my portfolio work and storyboards for my professional career in the industry.
What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to your program?
I would advise prospective students to have an idea of what they would like to create while they’re here at USC so they can get the most out of their classes in creating portfolio. The Cinematic Arts School provides a wonderful opportunity to play and explore different classes to find new interests. I recommend having a portfolio that is focused on a central, professional goal, and stands out in a crowd. I have loved being surrounded by all different types of creative filmmakers with a common goal of creating innovative content.
How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you, so far, for a career in your discipline?
The Animation and Digital Arts faculty and the program’s Chair, Tom Sito, have been incredible in preparing me for my career. Due to Tom’s extensive professional experience and knowledge of the industry, our curriculum and class schedule is specially tailored for the current market. My first semester here I was able to learn how to traditionally animate from Eric Goldberg, which was a terrifying, yet wonderful learning experience that greatly improved film animation. The faculty is always open to meeting with students as well as providing insightful feedback and suggestions on our projects. I have felt very fortunate to be taught and mentored by these incredible professors and professionals. The classes offered at SCA have helped broaden my mind, both as an artist and as a content creator. Through the SCA curriculum and faculty, I have been introduced to new films and techniques that greatly impacted my artistry.
What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC?
Time management! It is easy to get caught up in the pre-production for our films, from creating the storyboards to do doing research and designs, and lose track of time.
What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC?
I experience at a feature film animation studio gave me a unique point of view that I have brought to USC. Prior to coming to SCA, I worked at a studio for nearly seven years. It was an amazing experience that I learned so much from. I was able to see the caliber of artists that were hired, and the portfolios that were picked selected. This experience motivated me to go to SCA since I discovered the amount time and energy needed to improve as an artist and filmmaker.
What personal projects have you worked on and/or are currently working on either with Persistence of Visionaries (POV), or on your own?
Right now I am working on pre-thesis in which I develop, design, and story my thesis project. I will then be pitching my project to our esteemed faculty, which will hopefully be approved to work on the next year. This is a link to my portfolio of storyboards and drawings:http://katiesmithstoryportfolio.blogspot.com