Kristen Nelson

Kristen Nelson

BA, Animation & Digital Arts '16

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How has the School of Cinematic Arts changed your view of your discipline in animation? Before coming into the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), I was mesmerized by the allure of animated films and the feature film studios based in California. Four years later, I still am; but I’ve also gained an in-depth knowledge and appreciation for many other forms of animation. One of the many benefits of the animation program at SCA is that it exposes you to a wide variety of techniques and gives you so many opportunities to delve further into those topics. Through this program I’ve learned so much and I was able to discover the things I am most passionate about.

What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to your program? Believe in yourself and don’t be intimidated. In high school I took several art classes and was interested in animation, but I had never actually animated. While animation experience is always a plus, I truly believe that my passion for the field is what got me to where I am now. The program does a great job of teaching you various techniques, but you need to have the creativity, passion, and perseverance to apply the skills to whatever you’re doing. You need to have the courage to go outside of your comfort zone and push past “creative blocks.” When applying, make sure that you can demonstrate your passion in both your artwork and your words. Part of being an animator is knowing how to tell a story – show that you know how to tell yours.

How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in your discipline? Over the past four years while attending the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), I have matured both professionally and personally. I have gained invaluable friends, colleagues, connections, and experiences. I’ve learned a variety of skills that have helped me in both my projects and my past internship at Warner Brothers Animation. Through class assignments, guest speaker events, and collaborating with others at SCA, I’ve become familiar with the animation industry and what it’s like to work on a team. On a more personal level, I am more confident in my abilities and myself. I trust my instincts and understand how to act on the feedback I receive. This confidence, combined with the skills I’ve learned, has prepared me to enter the real world upon graduation. The program has opened so many doors for me, and has prepared me to go into them.

What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? There are so many incredible opportunities at USC, both within the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) and outside of it, and learning how to balance my time appropriately has been one of the biggest challenges for me. If it were up to me, I would want to try almost everything the university has to offer; but I can’t. I’ve enjoyed getting involved on campus, going to events through SCA, collaborating with other students on projects, and taking on a diverse amount of classes. But the benefit of having so many opportunities at my fingertips is that it really encouraged me to find out what I loved most in life and then dedicate myself to it without spreading myself too thin.

What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC? My appreciation for the interdisciplinary aspects of animation has been a constant source of inspiration while at USC. While taking math/science and art classes in high school, I learned that I was just as passionate about one topic as I was about the other. Through animation, I saw a way to combine these passions. This drive to bridge the gap between the two led me to the animation program at USC, and has inspired me ever since.

What personal projects have you worked on and/or are currently working on? I am currently in the process of creating my senior film about the interdependency of the two hemispheres of the brain, as seen through a situational comedy about a boy drinking hot sauce. Outside of this, I enjoy photography and manipulating photos in unique ways.