BA, Animation & Digital Arts '16
How has the School of Cinematic Arts changed your view of animation? Being at SCA has broadened my conception of what animation can be applied to, both within the world of film and outside of it entirely. The medium of animation lets you create absolutely anything you want, limited only by your imagination and ability; I always loved that about animation, but I never realized it could be stretched so far. I spent my first year learning about and practicing different ways of making films, and my second year learning and starting to practice different ways of making animation that have nothing to do with film, from installation to science visualization to virtual reality. Credit for these mind-expanding experiences goes to professors and in-class experiences equally as it goes to my fellow students and experiences outside of class altogether.
What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to your program?
Watch all kinds of animation, from features to music videos to experimental pieces, to get an idea of what grabs you and why. Think outside of the Disney/Pixar box (and the animation box entirely!), and even if you end up doing that kind of work, you'll come at it from an entirely different angle. And whatever your tiny obsessions, be they anime character movements or the texture of a vanilla ice cream scoop, indulge them in your work and not only will you be happier with it, but it'll say more about the person and artist you are. And keep your mind wide open. In terms of the application process itself, I'm really in no position to tell you any more than you already know: start early, draft often, dig deep, etc. The most important thing to know in any application process is that the result, negative or positive, expected or not, has very little bearing on your worth as a person or your potential as an artist. Either way, stay humble and work hard and you'll learn more than you could have imagined.
How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in animation? I've met an incredible array of talented fellow students, and had the opportunity to collaborate with many of them, both in and outside of class, which prepares me both by connecting me with people of similar visions and by teaching me how to collaborate with artists. My core classes have shown me a million different facets of film and animation, and helped me see just how many ways there are of not only making animation but thinking about it as well, which expands my very concept of what career options animation opens up. Learning from professors with both industry experience and a great passion for teaching and mentoring gives me a wonderful balance of palpable knowledge and the feeling of tremendous support. And the frequency of critiques of work helps me get used to both giving good feedback as well as receiving, processing and implementing feedback I receive.
What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? Managing time is difficult, especially since the amount of things you can be doing at any given time multiplies exponentially in college, and even more in film school. You're offered a plethora of opportunities for collaboration and have more ideas than you could ever have time to make. This is incredibly frustrating but also a pretty excellent kind of problem to have. Same goes for learning software--it's very difficult, at times infuriating, but once you have a sense of what you're doing and how to continue learning, you get to combine both your previous ideas with new animation concepts unique to the software, and ultimately expand the scope and possibility of your work.
What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC? In terms of a worldview, my background/identity as bicultural Mexican and White American woman lands me in interesting societal spaces-in-between where I'm simultaneously an insider and an outsider to supposedly "different" existences. Coming into myself from those spaces is both frustrating and freeing, and helps me see the world in a much more nuanced light. In terms of an artistic perspective, I've somehow managed to hold onto a slice of the curiosity and wonder perspective of childhood, which I still think is the most important part of being an artist. I am fascinated by sounds, textures, colors, and movements of everyday life, as well as philosophical, social, and scientific concepts. I think if you approach everything, conceptual or tangible, with some sense of curiosity and humility, you open yourself up to so much more, which helps enormously being a student and an artist.