November 12, 2021
BA in Animation and Digital Arts '25
By Gage Tilly
Please state your name, division, and expected year of graduation.
Hi, my name's Ethan Lee. I’m a freshman, expected to graduate in 2025, and my major is animation.
Why did you want to study animation?
To be honest, when I first was applying to USC for animation, I saw the digital arts aspect to it, and I was more leaning towards that because I want to become a concept artist in the future for games or movies or stuff like that, but over time since I’ve been here I’ve really come to enjoy the workplace around here, like the community, and also - I’m also learning about animation, which I thought I was never gonna do in the future, so it’s kind of really interesting just to see how my artistic talents kind of transfer over to that, because it’s - I’ve never worked on animation before. Before coming to this major, actually. So it was really kind of a tough learning experience in the beginning, really still a little bit now, since we haven’t done too many big projects. Just working with other passionate people has been a really wonderful experience, and I’m excited to learn more about animation, actually.
So have you had to change your workflow a lot, or your process, for animating?
Kinda, yeah. I had to focus - because I’m a very detail-oriented person, and when we’re doing some of the early walk cycles and kind of pose-to-pose animations, I realized I couldn’t really be detailed, because you have to get the basic form down first, that’s the most important part, and then I was just focusing on little things that were kind of not as important to the overall fluidity of the motion, which is why I had some issues there, but then I feel like I’ve slowly learned about that and have become better-suited for that. More knowledgeable, and better prepared for the future.
And on that note, how do you think SCA will prepare you for the career you wanna have?
There’s a lot of opportunities that it gives us, and I’m pretty excited to take advantage of those. Like I know in the future - for animation at least - we’re gonna have funding for our own projects, and we get to work with freshmen and stuff like that, that seems so cool - there’s so many internship opportunities as well. And working with other people - I feel like working with other people in our department, that’s like the big thing, because that’s connections; you’re working with people who are gonna be in the studios in the future, right. So just by being here and talking with those people - not even studying in class, I feel like - not even just that - just being here with those people is such a good experience, because you can just collaborate with ideas and stuff, and also in the future, you know, help each other out in the industry.
Really getting to know people and collaborate with them, getting to learn their process and their method of thinking.
Yeah, it’s been pretty interesting to see that, it’s been fun.
OK. And then what would you say have been your greatest successes and your greatest challenges at USC so far?
Successes? I would say… I don’t know. Successes - I think I adapted pretty quickly to the lifestyle here? It was pretty easy, I feel like they made things kind of easy to understand and everything, I feel like the welcome week activities were nice, really helped me get more comfortable with USC itself. And then the people around here are just such a good community that - I think that it was just really welcoming, for me to get in here.
One of the issues I’ve had, and it’s probably more personal, it’s like procrastination and stuff like that. I’ve not been getting a lot of work done on myself, because I don’t have that kind of pressure coming from my parents and teachers, going to school every day, they’re kind of - you’re more accountable for yourself in college, I realize, and I’m starting to realize that I need to start things earlier, and then get them done earlier, put more thought into it, more effort, especially since coming out of the pandemic, I’ve kind of been less good with work ethic.
What projects have you worked on so far that you’re proud of?
There was this one project for the beginning of my intro to animation class that was a world-building assignment, - no, actually, that’s not the one I’m proud of! It is from my intro to animation class! But there was one we did later, and I think it was the most recent one, it was like a motion collage. So basically, we were - our prompt was to make an image that had multiple pieces moving about it, so like different kind of animation parts of that, and I really enjoyed creating the actual piece itself. Not so much the animation, I would say, like it’s still pretty rough, but the painting itself I was really proud of. I feel like I really haven’t drawn a lot since school last year, because I just haven’t had the motivation, but this is one of the first pieces I’ve actually been pretty proud of, because I think I’ve put a lot of effort into it. It was actually only one day of work, though, which was surprising. Because I got it done - I think I’m one of those people who complete things in bursts of when I feel like it, like the energy, so just having that moment again was really nice, and it was just a great experience for that. It felt good to be back.
What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about applying to SCA?
I would say “believe in your passion”. It sounds cliche, but really show that thing that you’re so proud of, that you invest yourself in so much, just show it to USC, because they will see that, and they will see so much potential in you, because in the end it’s not really about the skills or anything, I feel like, it’s kind of more about ideas - I mean, of course skills are important, but those can be worked on. I think the ideas that you can make and just - the stories you can tell are so important, and that just being yourself is a good way to catch the eyes of USC SCA. Just like that, I feel like, is a good idea.
Stay true to yourself?
Name: Gage Tilly