Spring Break in San Francisco: SVA Students Visit Pixar, ILM, Autodesk and More

March 20, 2015

A group of SVA students headed west to San Francisco the first week of March for spring break. In addition to exploring the Bay Area attractions, they spent time in film and animation studios interacting with some of today’s leading animators, gaming design artists and filmmakers. The program was organized by Angie Wojak, director of SVA Career Development and Jimmy Calhoun, director of operations in BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects. The two led the students on visits to Autodesk, Industrial Light and Magic, Phil Tippett Studio, Pixar and the Walt Disney Family Museum.

Pixar425One of the highlights of the week was the group’s trip to ILM. The students enjoyed a tour of the models and artifacts from the studio’s most famous films, including Star Wars and Jurassic Park, and then met with recruiters and staff to discuss what ILM looks for in the portfolios and reels of its potential interns and staff. Current ILM artists and BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects alumni Ryan Chong (2013), Hyun Jun Song (2013) and Tom Szenher (2013) spoke about their experience with ILM’s apprenticeship program and their current work on films and amusement park rides.

“The goal of the trip is to give students access to practicing professionals and recruiters in the San Francisco area and allow them to meet artists who are creating the work we see in film, games and television,” Wojak said. “Many of our students are interested in entertainment industry careers. By giving them this behind-the-scenes look at studios, we’re encouraging them to consider exploring opportunities on the West coast. The trip is also a good chance for students to learn about internships they can apply for now.”

starwars425“Any time a student can visit a studio or meet a professional, their understanding of the industry grows,” Calhoun said. “After a full morning with lectures and a tour at Pixar, the group bumped into alumnus and Pixar animator MontaQue Ruffin [BFA 2013 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects]. Seeing a recent graduate on his lunch break in the Pixar atrium shows how attainable their dreams are. Later that evening, our students attended an SVA alumni mixer”—hosted by Autodesk—”and met more alumni working at Pixar, ILM and DreamWorks, further encouraging their own possibilities.”

One of the students’ favorite speakers was Jeff Sangalli, an art director for Sony. Sangalli told students how his career developed, from his early work as a sketch artist at Pixar to his current position. He also shared tips on how to sustain a career in the field and showed samples of his animation and game design work.

disney425As an added bonus, the students also visited the Walt Disney Family Museum for a customized tour focused on character development in Disney’s early work.

Images from top down: SVA’s visit to Pixar, Industrial Light and Magic and The Walt Disney Family Museum, respectively.

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