March 21 – Graduates of DADA

A panel of 6 of our alums will discuss topics around their art and careers after graduation.

Please bring good questions to spark a lively discussion!

I’m very excited to have these wonderful artists on our panel!:

Debra Issac-Downing

Cosku Turhan

Alessandro Ceglia

Andrew Huang

Cecilia Fletcher

Andy Lyon

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38 comments on “March 21 – Graduates of DADA

  1. In the little time I’ve been at the program, I’ve found that speaking with alumni of different programs is like a Russian roulette. Sometimes is disheartening as hell, other times very uplifting.

    (*gun cocking)

    Fortunately this time it was the latter.

    I felt we were given very valuable insight about the industry as it is right now from the point of view of working animators on their way to the top. I found a gratifying balance between reality and idealization. Both elements equally required to make creativity prosper and financially viable.

    The selections of speakers was great. A diverse group that showed a good spectrum of what you can do as an animator and succeed. They didn’t feel cocky or condescending. I’m glad to see they are doing well with the choices they’ve made…

    and I’m sorry for the next person who gets the gun.

    (*gun cocking)

  2. Nesli Erten says:

    I think anyone can become artistic. The only limiting factor is your desire. If you have an urge to make real what only exists in your mind, that is enough to start. I think our admission board’s job is to detect who has the unwavering desire needed to propel their own path in this industry. I appreciate so much that USC is inclusive to applicants who have studied in areas of human enterprise worlds away from the fine arts. Surely a program with a student body comprised of such diversity has its draw backs. Yet, I would strongly argue the benefits far outweigh the difficulties such an all-encompassing admissions process brings about.

    I opened After Effects for the first time last semester. In that same class, I was sitting next to someone with ten plus years experience working with the program. Surely this posed challenges for our teacher. In circumstances like this it is hard to appease everyone. I’m not going to lie, there have been times I feel like I am left behind. Perhaps there were even times my lack of knowledge held the class up from progressing onto new topics, (I really hope that is not the case but for the 15 of you that had to endure times like that I’m so so sorry). In either case, I don’t look at any of those feelings in a negative way. If anything, this for me serves as the biggest motivator to catch the f*ck up.

    I think the difference between experienced and inexperienced animators is balanced and enhances the dynamics of our group. I can only hope this feeling is reciprocated.

    I loved and appreciated so much the advice and insight the alumni’s vocalized last night. I am so excited to be a part of this field and can not wait to fuse all the new information I am learning in the program with Tango, Political Theory, and who knows what else. Thanks for coming!

  3. Ruthie Williams says:

    I agree with Simon. This was a great panel. The fact that some have not been out of school more than 4 years or less made them exactly who I wanted to hear from, and their answers really were uplifting in many ways. I was especially relieved to hear from Alex, who also came into the program without as much experience as his fellow students and how he always felt behind or like he was holding others back. I feel that way all the time, so I really appreciated Nesli’s questions as well and Alex’s response to them.

    I think that Alex’s point about the program being so diverse and therefore difficult to tailor to everyone is valid. Branding DADA to be one kind or school would probably be helpful to future applicants, or at least giving an introduction in the Fall of first year that details the different paths you can take and those could be clearly articulated curriculum-wise.

    To be completely honest, and because Mike Patterson asked us not to hold back, I am going to bring up something that really troubles me. Cecilia Fletcher mentioned in one of her comments that the animation industry is still a difficult world for female animators. I have been hearing rumblings of this from one place or another since I got here and it always goes something like, “yeah especially for female animators it’s tough…er well it’s on it’s way to getting better…” Change subject.

    I was too much of a coward last night to bring it up, but now that I can hide behind a computer I want to ask: guy or girl, does this bother anyone else? I can’t imagine why female animators are still being treated differently in 2012. It is shocking to me that an artistic community would be able to maintain that kind of bias this long. Am I overreacting to these comments and asides? What’s going on here? What should I expect? Is there nothing I can do about it? Considering how much self motivation and passion play a role in becoming a great animator, I have to admit that sometimes I wonder whether I can make it when I feel like there is an element of the industry that doesn’t want me to be there just because I’m not a guy.

    • Tristan Dyer says:

      I understand your frustration Ruthie. But the only person on that panel that has the power to hire and fire people was a woman, at least judging from what they talked about.

    • This is always going to be a recurrent issue (not only in animation but in any industry) and if I start naming success cases of women in animation, then I would be reinforcing the fact that it’s a special thing, when it shouldn’t be.

      It’s good to be aware of some realities in our male centric society, but to keep making the differentiation of what women and men can accomplish will keep the gap open…at least in your mind. Try to deal with it when/if you have to face it, but don’t put it in your mind beforehand, because it’s going to add a burden on top of all the things you have to learn to be good at animation.

      • Nesli Erten says:

        I agree that approaching the workplace as it is an equal playing field for both men and women is an effective way to enter into any professional realm. Numerous industries experience far more disparities in male to female ratios than Animation. To that end, rethinking/reevaluating the demographic that makes up the Animation community in and of itself, can shine light onto the type of people we speak of. It can go without saying that fields as competitive and expensive as animation in a city with so much diversity and culture, when comparatively speaking, will differ from the people/culture within the factory floor of a male-dominant manufacturing company in X city. Given this kind of comparison, it would be fair to conclude our privileged standing offers a favorable slant on gender discussions in Animation. But like Simon, I believe that the real problem lies in the question itself. Even merely questioning if such a problem exists hinders the call to move on. Positing females as the underdog before the race even begins, in my opinion, serves as a self defeating prognosis. We have come too far as a gender, and society as a whole, to continue a dialog that perpetuates these counter productive results/prophesies. If we want to be equal in a male centric work force, we need to close the the topic and move on. And when a problem does arise, approach it as human to human and leave the penis and vagina issues at the door, to boldly put it.

        *A few authors that have deliberated over these topics (and in my opinion have done so in a very intelligible and progressive way) include: Iris Marion Young, Martha C. Nussbaum, Diane Singerman, Carol Gould, Nancy Fraser, and Judith Butler. All of which are definitely worthy of examining if the opportunity presents itself.

      • Ruthie says:

        Wow, this is cool that so many people have responded to my question! I appreciate the advice. I still am kind of unsatisfied with these answers though, because it sounds like what you guys are saying is something along the lines of ignore it or it’s an annoying topic and not a big deal or hey, it’s better here than in other places. I get what you’re saying, and I’m not trying to go on a crusade or anything. I’ve worked lots of different places and I know that women can be treated differently, but it has never been in an overly negative sense in my experience. When I have worked in bars or restaurants, the men I worked with have been very protective and kind to me, and I know it’s because I am a girl.

        Nesli I think you are making some strong points towards this fact, that socially, we will always behave in a way that differentiates male and female. But when you say things like “If we want to be equal in a male centric work force, we have to _______,” this is where I have an issue. We are already equal, I don’t have to do anything, including ignoring the topic. I don’t accept it as ‘just the way it is’ that this is a male-centric workforce, there is no justification for it being that way and it probably hinders the industry and needs to change. I do approach people in animation the same as I have in any other aspect of my life, which is without assuming too much of anything. But we are not working in a factory in x city. Animation is where we are going to be setting up shop for long long time. This is where we are going to be affecting the world if at all, and the fact that I am hearing about it before encountering it justified, to me, at least asking a question about it.

      • Not really. What I’m saying is that it’s not the law out there. I would say that at this stage you should just worry about producing the best work you can, knowing that along the way you may encounter this particular obstacle in a path full of them. But do not include it so early in your way of thinking because it may become one of those things that grows on you and when you least expect it, it has become a crutch for you. I think it’s good that Cecilia mentioned it, because it’s a thing that still happens and needs discussion, but I don’t think is the common denominator.

  4. Tristan Dyer says:

    I think when you put this amount of people on a panel together it is going to take about 10 minutes for them to contradict each other. Basically, we have to be awesome, able to do everything and be really great at one thing. You have to save time for your own endeavors but if you leave work at 6pm then you are a garbage employee that is never going to move up.
    The panel was so varied and successful that we all take everything that they said as if delivered from the mountain by Moses. When the audience is as varied as we were, we are obviously going to pick out what we want to hear and think it is great. We are also going to remember what scares us. I guess everything is true but not the end all. If this stuff was easy it wouldn’t be worth paying this much to go to school for. Which is the way the panel learned it so that is what I am taking away.

  5. This panel was refreshing. Not only was it one of the most upbeat grad panels we’ve had in my time at the school, but it was also the first that encouraged a generalist path and spoke to it’s versatility in the current industry. This is particularly encouraging to me, since, being a silly person who wishes to do the big story jobs like write and direct as my “specialty”, I have had to come to terms with the fact that A: that means knowing a fair and practical bit about many different jobs in the field, and B: there are no “entry level” positions for my chosen “specialty”. I feel, however, that the one thing which we may have tried to address in the panel but didn’t is that as much as you should do something productive and mind or skill sharpening everyday, it also pays to maybe take a break and watch out for your basic needs everyday. I say this as someone who sucks at it, as not working often makes me tense, agitated, and tired in a way that makes it harder to work, and that, I believe, is what they call a vicious cycle.

    On another note, I like the point that our alums were saying “Do maya, do figure drawing, and do networking” quite a bit. I’m starting to believe that it isn’t that we don’t offer these things, but that we– we the students, that is– don’t realize we want them till roundabouts May of our third year. I believe they call that a learning experience. Anyway, I’ll maintain my course in trying to capture some skill with this rare and elusive beast they call “time management.”

  6. I hope that in the future undergraduate alumni will be able to come to a panel like this. I know that the undergrad program is new, so that will be a while, but for me I am not sure if the success and experiences of grad students can be compared with those of undergrad alumni since there is a different curriculum.

    I did like that these alumni were representing the entertainment/industry side of animation since I am more interested in that rather than being an independent film maker. I think they were all able to respond well and give helpful answers to questions. I liked that they encouraged learning many skills rather than specializing, and that they actually proved that it is better for you can change paths and advance and be more creative rather than being trapped in a specialty.

    I agree with them that you have to be persistent with your pet projects so that you can be one of the few that actually completes it.

    It was also a little shocking (and maybe a little encouraging for us?) that they have found so many people in the industry that are “button-pushing drones.” I liked that tip about being very communicative about your ideas to get noticed. Also the mindset of thinking about later jobs (your dream job) rather than your first job is a way of thinking that I think few actually do. But it is a much better way of thinking because it may help maintain confidence and you would learn more.

    I don’t know who it is, but one student asked for suggestions about improving her art when she is not from an artistic background. All the answers given were valid, but I do notice that many of them require you to go outside the program at a point, which is good and should be done. But I feel that more could be done here. Often I feel the program isn’t artistically immersive enough. I want to see the art of other students, past and current, EVERYWHERE. There should be artwork hanging on the walls of classrooms (and not just quick scribbles from Freshmen classes), rather than random movie posters (especially the non-animation ones) there should be artwork there as well and installations of stop motion puppets/sets. The hallway could be a gallery of student work. I think if the 1st floor was like this too it’d be even better. It would be very inspiring to see art everywhere! You could find out who created what and learn from them or find others with similar interest. I think this is important considering the segregation of the undergraduate classes from grads and even from each other. We could all learn from each other, but I don’t know what everyone likes/can do.

    To Ruthie who is worried about women in animation, I think as long as you can prove how hardworking and creative you are you will be fine in the future. From my experience, a lot of companies are looking for more women. I feel that now more women are pursuing animation now too.

    Also, some alumni pointed out to do lots of figure drawing and I do think we need more of it. I want costumed figure drawing!

  7. Yang Liu says:

    The alumni panel had been always successful and helpful. I enjoyed so much hearing about what they think about the industry and their career path, and what their recommendations to us. There was hardly a point that I would disagree, and they were presenting the true industry reality to us.

    About the issue with women and men, I personally feel that the United States is probably the best place where people are trying to equalize different genders in this industry. In many asian countries, you are required to put your gender, your marriage status and even your profile picture on the resume. I never had to do this in the US, and all I need is to show my name, which is “Yang Liu” that even has no indication of my gender. If the recruiter is bias and tend not to hire girls, I don’t think they would ever risk contacting me.
    However, I also agree that there is a gender issue everywhere. Same as racism. They always exist as human nature, and all we can do is avoiding it and minimizing the conflicts, instead of “solving it”. I think the United States is already doing what many other countries can not do, and we should keep that in mind.

    Back to the discussion with alumni, I especially love what Andrew said about “listening.” It is very true that most students, especially in art studies, tend not to listen to others. I have many friends who are majoring engineering, and when they discuss a topic, they prove what they think and what they do using logic and science. However, in art creating, things can be very subjective and personal. That can be either good or bad… People who are genius probably don’t need to learn from others, but people who are not genius may result into egoism if they never listen, or I should say, listen and think.

    This is a very successful night and I hope in the future we can have more sections of this.

  8. megatoe says:

    It was great to hear about what people can accomplish after getting out of the USC Animation program. I found the tips for time management and building a self-image very helpful.

    This panel also raised a lot of question about the USC Animation curriculum, like not being specific enough. I actually think being at USC opened me up to a lot more opportunities and expanded my horizons as I get to take classes like advertising, ballroom dancing, photography, and stage-make up which really helped me become a more well-rounded person.

    Animation schools like CalArts and Ringling definitely seem more specialized, and those students have learned the skill sets (animation programs and techniques) to prepare them for the real world. During my 3D Animation class with Angie Jones, she mentioned that her students from Gnomon School of Visual Effects are much more experienced, and those are the people who we are competing against; and that worries me. It seems like we have to take extra courses outside of USC (Animation Guild, Art Center) in order to be equipped with the skills the industry is looking for.

    Within the USC Animation program, I loved the exposure to a variety of animation. I wish I know about the Animation Seminar class during Freshman year because it helped me get an idea of what’s out there in the industry. I think how the animation program can improve is by giving students a more informative overview of the structure/ pipeline of an animation studio, and the roles and responsibilities of each job. That way, students are able to determine what they want to do in the future, and know what classes to take earlier on in order to be equipped with the skills to enter specific fields of animation.

  9. Cecilia De Jesus says:

    Every semester it is a special treat to see the alumni panel in seminar. I agree with Simon that this panel was overall pretty positive. I have experienced some alumni panels who weren’t as optimistic. The variety of former students was really great and it was so impressive to see the amazing work of Andrew Thomas Huang, serving as a representative for the minors of the program.

    I thought some of Mike’s questions were particular interesting. I was very curious to see hear their answers to what they didn’t like about the program or what they would have changed. I think the idea of a level playing field is a conversation that always comes up and is always very difficult to address.

    I think Nesli’s response to this is something I hear a lot. There is also the other side where people feel like they are being held back. Sitting in at the SCA Graduate Council meetings as the animation rep, I can attest to the fact that pretty much all of the other divisions have the same issue of a addressing everyone’s needs. This is of course because our program, and SCA in general, wants a diverse group of creative people. For me personally, I think this is an incredible strength. I think for the students that feel unchallenged, they must find ways to keep themselves challenged by speaking directly with the professors. I think all of our profs are very reasonable and willing to offer whatever we need.

    I hope students like Nesli don’t get discouraged. There is a lot of ground to cover to catch up, but like she said, I think their desire will fill this gap and motivate them to keep going. Though I had a graphic design and fine art background, I never touched After Effects or Premier until I got to USC. There have been countless stories like ours, but it’s not how you come into this program that matters. It’s how you leave.

  10. Seeing the graduates was pretty interesting. There was a lot of reassuring/terrifying information about the animation industry and how to get in it. What made me most worried I suppose is that these graduates described all their struggle after graduating the MFA program. I’m just a BA student. So I’m that much more behind and will have that many more struggles. Oh well I guess I’ll deal with it.
    I really liked when they praised idea people and said that people with ideas are going to go far, because I think I am an idea person. So maybe everything will work out.

  11. Liffany Chen says:

    I completely agree with what Ashley has to say (when do I not?).

    The only one I found particularly helpful was Andrew, not to say that everyone else wasn’t helpful. In fact, everyone had his or her own stories with useful information. As a current non-major, it’s difficult for me to actually locate jobs and half the time I’m worrying if my work is suffering because I don’t immerse myself enough. Seeing Andrew’s work (wonderful stuff, by the way) and how successful he is doing animation is reassuring (even though he was a Fine Arts major and some people view that as closely related to animation; so it’s still a bit different from my situation). And as an undergrad, I’m not sure how well I’ll be dealing with struggling. The panel members seemed to have handled themselves quite well.

    Andy was also quite helpful. Charming, even though he is a sell out. (Ha!)

    But on the overall scheme of things, I found that most of what they had to say were things I’ve already heard from alumni of other departments. I guess that means that the repeated statements are VERY. IMPORTANT. But I guess in the meantime, I’ll have to get my shit together like the panel members clearly have. Yes. That is what I will do.

  12. Life after school tends to be an interesting wilderness, so It’s always great to see how other have navigated before you so that you make the most of your opportunities when the time comes. It seems like this group manage to develop a diverse range of successes that shows the strengths of the USC program. I appreciate that many of the shortcomings they found in the program have been addressed and continue to be refined. I’m confident in the long term success and continual improvement of the work and education provided here at USC. One major take away I got was the idea of carving out one half-an-hour a day to work on the passion project, no matter what. I’ve already begun using that to much success. Thanks alums. Hopefully one day I can sit in a similar position and offering something equally as useful as what you provided to me.

  13. Amy Lee Ketchum says:

    I was really impressed by the work created by these alumni. Each one had a unique perspective on animation and a high level of craft. I am happy to hear that these artists have found success in the animation industry in addition to making their own work.

  14. Lauren says:

    This panel of DADA alumni provided a useful insight on different perspectives regarding the program’s strengths (the multidimensional range of animation techniques taught). I agree with Cecilia how she made the important comment that there was (and still seems to be) not enough of a figure drawing/or ‘drawing’ in general emphasis in both the BA and MFA animation programs.
    I really agree with Ashley that the program is not ‘artistically inclined’ enough as an “animation” program. She is right, there needs to be more visual (creative) stimulation in the SCB building, displaying screenshots from animated projects, shorts, storyboard thumbnails, just anything…anything, please. It would be nice to have more DADA student gallery exhibitions too throughout the semesters, this would hopefully add more ‘artistic motivation’ within the student body.
    One of the alumni that stood out to me was Andrew Huang (who was previously a Fine Arts student). His work and story he told shows that you don’t have to start out as a student who is completely familiar with the different animation techniques and softwares at first, you’d have to work your way up and it is up to you whether or not you’ll be successful at achieving a final product. I appreciate how the alumni did not sugarcoat the reality of animation industry and how it is currently working.

  15. Lisa Chung says:

    Last week’s seminar raised many great points about life after school. Will my first job be stable? Will I have to keep interning? Will it be creative? Will I even find a job? Will I have time to work on my personal projects? Should I be a specialist or generalist?

    These are all valid concerns and questions I’ve had during my time at USC but when I really think about it, I am not the same person I was when I came out of my undergrad. In fact, I’m sure we had the same questions back then and lived to tell about it. Truth is, for those who worked between their undergrad and graduate program (current work counts too), they know the answers to these questions already, at least I do. I know sometimes you have to work for free or take a pay cut just so a company can see your potential and eventually hire you full time. I can verify this because I have gotten the salary I deserved and placed in stable/higher positions after a few months of proving myself. I also know that with a higher position comes more responsibility and therefore personal work does become harder to do. However it also has meant more creative work because they now trust your idea and want you to work hard to execute them. But, beware! This can mean many late nights, working weekends, missing family/friend events and pulling allnighters. In the opposite spectrum, I have found time for personal work in entry-level jobs because I have a regular schedule and my only job is to help the person above me. It’s less creative but it meant I was able to take that evening cake decorating class or Saturday morning animation class. So there’s going to be that trade off. I also know from work experience, I feel most satisfied as a generalist. I like to understand the big picture and know how to do a little bit of everything. It did not mean I didn’t know how to do things well. I was capable of completing a project. It just meant not knowing every buttons in the render setting that will give the project the extra finesse but, that’s the beauty of working in a team, somebody will know and give you the tip during reviews or when you ask for feedback.

    Being aware of these avenues, allows me to shift my energy to the bigger and more important picture such as what can I do now to better prepare myself. Personally that means interning, refining my skills to the career I want, taking advantage of the faculty office hours, focusing my interest in a directed studies and taking outside courses to fill any gaps. In my undergrad I didn’t do any of these things because I didn’t know it was available or something I needed to do. I just pushed through the poorly taught courses in the curriculum. I wasn’t aware that I could take ownership and work one on one with a faculty or take courses outside of my undergrad program. That in itself says how much I’ve grown and will grow after the completion of the MFA program. For those who jumped into the grad program straight from undergrad or are current undergrad students I promise with experience, you will know what work environment you best thrive in and what kind of an artist you want to be.

  16. Andrew Malek says:

    Seeing the graduates of the Hench DADA program speak was generally motivating and uplifting in the sense that their success and accomplishments are in line with my expectations of the post-graduate experience and that If I found myself in their shoes I would be quite pleased.

    It particular it was interesting to hear that the majority of students recommended not specializing in only one form of animation because there will be plenty of time for that in the professional world. This is a relief, because currently I have passion for so many forms of animation that it would be heartbreaking to entirely cease learning about cel or stop-motion animation. The seminar was also helpful in that it drove home the fact that most of the work the alumni were doing had something to with CG animation and that aspect of my education should not be neglected.

    Another thing I took home from the alumni’s presentation was how difficult it is to pursue one’s own work once employed full time. It was just a reminder of how creating and finishing films that show off one’s directing skills is also important alongside developing one’s practical skills.

  17. Joseph Yeh says:

    I am grateful to hear from successful alum artists and really gained a lot of relevant perspective. I felt their work was creative and new; very fresh stuff. Andrew Huang’s film Solipsist, an orgy of colors, was marvelous and majestic. Andy Lyon’s “real” reel was fun and full of life.

    In the conversation of becoming a jack of all trades, I somewhat agreed that the goal is to pursue a higher level as a filmmaker rather than master 1 art . However, I feel that mastering a skill that you love is the right course. In animation and storyboarding there is more creative input and canalso lead to higher roles in filmmaking.

    I am happy to hear that jobs are available for whichever path I take in animation and I will work harder and improve on all aspects to get to the ultimate goal of an independent studio like Debra Downing’s.

  18. Dan Wilson says:

    My favorite part of the alumni seminar was how much they ripped on the fancy French schools. It’s true that teams like that do some great films, but I’m glad the alumni addressed that and the specialists against whom we’re competing. It’s intimidating looking at the insane work that people on the internet put out, but the alumni seemed to agree that, while we still need to compete with them at first, we have different long-term plans. Even if that’s not true, it’s comforting to believe.

    Andy Lyon pointed out something that’s occurred to me before – if you don’t know what you want to focus on, sometimes it’s a matter of looking at what other people struggle with. Sometimes I wonder if I should get more into rigging for just that reason. Either way, as our guests agreed, there’s not much benefit to specializing, especially right now. I enjoyed Cosku’s anecdote about how he looks back to his character animation and has to ask, “What was I thinking?” I hope I get so good at something (maybe animation) that I can look back and ask that, too.

    I also liked the alumni’s suggestions for work habits and strategies. Andy Huang recommended we spend at least a half hour a day on our passion projects. Having a routine and rhythm like that is important to keep it in the front of the mind. It’s easy for me to get too involved with less important projects just because I want to get them out of the way. But they never end, so my “passion” projects suffer. Debra’s thoughts on using reference were useful and resonate with what other people have told me recently. I generally don’t use reference, but, as she suggests, I need to use reference and copy the things I love in places that I’m deficient.

    Cecilia had great thoughts on designing films. She said the most important thing is to first design your film before you make it. Even if you’re not good at 3D, in the example she used, it can be stylized where a sphere is represented by a cube. I think especially as students, we need to abbreviate where possible. I’m glad we have more than a semester to do our thesis films, because design is something I need…

    Alex made a good case for large studios. Small studios seem “friendly”, but as Alex pointed out, small studios and freelance have a tendency to have irregular schedules and brutal hours. I didn’t know a place like Dreamworks was that much different. I don’t want to be a drone, but I’d also like to have a life outside of work. I also liked hearing his experience when he worked at smaller studios. I feel the same way about my own “fun” projects – like I would have plenty of time between jobs/ classes/ etc. But then when I do have free time, I’m too burnt out to do anything that seems like work … or paralyzed with indecision – too many choices and not enough time to do them all.

  19. Javier B says:

    The selection of this year’s alum was fantastic , the wide range of unique artist. Andy Lyon works and sell out reel was grate . Alessando Ceglia work and years of experience , along with everyone else point all lead to the same thing , having multiple skill in the this industry put you on the edge.

  20. Louis Morton says:

    The work of this year’s alumni panel was extremely impressive. And the fact that all of them were 5 or less years out of grad school made it all the more inspiring. It’s good to be reminded that artistic growth doesn’t stop after leaving here.

    My favorite part of the night was speaking to the alumni afterwards. I think it’s hard to generalize the experience of post-grad school in front of a large audience, and often the complexities are summed up in phrases we hear again and again, it’s hard to balance art and work, it’s good to be a generalist but get really good at one thing, etc. Meeting one-on-one I really got to ask some specific questions and find out some very helpful things. I almost wish for future alumni panels that the formal presentation was shorter and students were allowed more one-on-one time with someone from the panel that they really identified with.

    Andy Lyon was very generous in explaining his techniques. His graphic style is something I aspire to and his use of Maya has me even more interested in figuring out this software. Andrew Huang was also very generous in explaining his process as well. I think I really learn the most by finding out the details of how these artists. Thanks for a great panel!

  21. I was excited to attend the animation alumni panel on Wednesday. Each guest shared their own unique insight into the industry and gave helpful suggestions to graduating students. They described the different work environments of the larger and small studios. While the smaller studios can have demanding schedules with long work ours, they leave a lot of time in between projects for personal work. Larger studios offer a paced work environment with regular 9 to 5 hours, but may contain 2-year, soulless projects.

  22. Larry Lai says:

    The issue of finding jobs in Animation is very practical and useful for me. Although the environment of doing animation in America is relatively well-built than other countries, the chances of getting a position in it is also competitive. According to their experiences, on the one hand you may specify in certain areas of animation industry, but on the other hand you may have grerat opportunity to touch other departments that you only have a “general” idea about them. This is the benefit of working in industry! You are forced to do experience different medium or technique and to be in charge of a project. However, after the studio day, I found if you really want to be hired by a studio, you have to specify your skill. Well, that’s the rule for the most of jobs, not only for animation. So the conclusion is: you use one special key to open the door of exploring the kaleidescopic animation industry. Now I have to work on refining the key.

  23. Emily Chung says:

    It is always good to know how’s people doing for their life after they got off the school. And it is good to know people are doing great after they leave here. It makes me feel good, because if they can maek it than maybe I can doing,too. After the seminar, it actually got me to think a lot. How can I imporve myself will be my biggest work. Also, What I want to do after I got off the school. I tnink specifying my skill will be my most concerned today. Knowing what I want to do and what I good to do are what I learnd from last week’s seminar.

    Only got 2 years left……

  24. chenhuang says:

    It is so impressive to see our alumni’s works and hear about their experience.
    I got so much inspiration about what I will do in the future from the alumni panel.
    I may not be one of those people in the future since I am not look for jobs like theirs.
    But it brings me the question, What is the strongest skill I have?
    I think I should just focus on the skill I am good at and the thing I am interested to do,
    the thing I feel happy to do even if I don’t get a lot of money from it..

  25. Di Gu says:

    The alumni’s work is really impressive. It’s always be helpful for guiding us what should we do in the future. All of them are very nice and their crafts reach to really high level.
    I am interest in the alumni’s suggestions for work strategies. One of them recommended we spend at least a half hour a day on our passion projects. This sounds really good for improving our ability. Actually, I tried before, but it’s just because I have a relative casual schedule. I hope I can keep drawing my diary everyday, just like what he said. And I must say, do something you really interested in is the best way to keep being passion for life.

  26. Robert Calcagno says:

    I think that to have a consistent and satisfying career in the industry is a matter of understanding of the industry and a certain sense of confidence that you have to have in what you can do best rather than, as the alumni really made a point about, just generating a skill set.

    The work that they’ve created so far is really unique and great, and demonstrates a nice sense of transition in what each respective graduating class focused on more than anything. Some of the alumni’s work is downright stunning, showing that they haven’t had to compromise their artistic integrity and instead just apply that spirit and doctrine to whatever gig they get.

    I know that there’s a continual sense that it’s only going to get harder from here; I mean this shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. This is a hell of an industry yet the fact we wouldn’t even be in this type of position unless we had taken the risk of obtaining an MFA.

    We’re above the cut, we ARE the elite of our craft and we have to impress that confidence. We have to take the challenge and just make the most of it. Be passionate, be consistent, and continue on with the understanding that it is ultimately our responsibility and OUR effort that will make us successful.

  27. Linda Jules says:

    As many of my classmates mentioned above, it was indeed great to hear the alumni panel speak on their experiences here at USC as well as on their lives outside of the program. I imagine it would be very tricky for any student to have to come back to school a few years later and be completely honest about life on the other side. Especially when speaking in front of faculty and such a large crowd.

    I felt that we got an honest overview of where each individual stood at this point in their lives. It’s hard to get a gauge of whether or not they were really happy with post USC life. It seems like the general attitude was work extremely hard while in school. And hopefully luck and a good network will pull you through the rest of the way.

  28. Laura Cechanowicz says:

    It is always a pleasure to hear from our incredibly talented alums! It was inspiring to see the diverse range of work, as well as hear about each of their experiences thus far in the industry. I also found the discussion of getting your name into a studio’s holding pattern. One thing that seems to stand out is the importance of making friends with the gatekeeper and avoiding being pigeon holed. Thanks so much for coming to speak to us! This was another great seminar!

  29. chaoqi zhang says:

    Fresh air from incredibly talented alums! I like their passion as young animators, we have dream and passion and we are young, feels such close to hear their experience to prepare ourself in specialty and network for industry field. Work with passion and be brave to challenge ourself into different medias, also build good relationship with people to have oppotunity. Thanks.

  30. Simo Liu says:

    It was a very useful and helpful seminar. I was impressed by the works alumni created. These works are amazing! It is also a good chance to hear alumni talking about the working experience after they graduate. For us, the students learning in school still have less chance to connect the film industry closely. Alumni give us many suggestion and experience about the film industry which makes us much clear about the industry and help us to understan what we will do and how to do in the future. It enlightens and inspires me a lot to thinking the working career in the future. It helps me a lot! Thanks for this seminar. It’s very useful!

  31. LaMar Ford says:

    It’s great to meet the alumni and hear their academic and professional experiences. I enjoyed their works, and looking at their budding careers is very inspirational. It’s great to hear their insights on post graduation and getting opportunities to work on fascinating projects.

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