SVA workshops SVA workshops

Education doesn’t stop at the classroom door for students at the School of Visual Arts.

This Fall semester at SVA, students in BFA Animation, BFA Computer Art, and MFA Computer Arts have found opportunities outside the classroom to foster creativity and community, and enrich their artistic journeys. Most recently, SVA renewed its Women in Animation (WIA) Student Club and has hosted Blender workshops. To learn more about these recent activities, read on.

SVA first established the official WIA SVA Student Club in 2017. Since then, the college has continued to sponsor student memberships to all matriculated students who are studying in Animation, in person and remotely. SVA aligns with the goal of the organization Women in Animation to provide support and resources to all underrepresented gender identities as well as allies.

This student-run WIA club provides a platform for students to find support in each other, via the WIA network as well as all other Student Clubs in other schools. The club aims to inform and inspire students through guest lectures, portfolio reviews, and workshops. We asked our student club leaders to reflect on some WIA SVA events they helped organize over the past year that contributed to their education outside the classroom.

Industry Portfolio Review

Vianey Contreras (MFA Computer Arts, WIA SVA Student Club Equipment Manager/Student Leader):

After joining WIA SVA during the pandemic and attending a full remote year at SVA, it has been amazing to see how supportive WIA SVA is with events for its members. One that has stuck with me was our Portfolio Review. The club opened submissions to students for a chance to have their work seen by industry professionals from Blizzard, Pixar, Nickelodeon, and Titmouse. They were matched with those that fit their style.

These events aren’t just for networking or improving skills: they’re opportunities to practice putting yourself out there and find inspiration.

Jenni Lo Pan (BFA Animation senior, WIA SVA Student Club President):

At the Portfolio Review hosted by WIA SVA, I got to see the drive and passion of students, and how everyone was eager to show their work and learn from the industry artists. After this event, I was inspired to reflect on my own animation and career goals.

It is gratifying to connect with other artists wanting to help each other. Especially as students, we want to head towards the right career goals, and joining a club like WIA SVA can help. We really focus on strengthening students’ artistic skills and grow alongside amazing friends and animation families. In the end, WIA SVA continues to provide a great sense of community and leadership.

Internship Panel

Min Lee (BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation & Visual Effects, WIA SVA Student Club Secretary):

I’ve always heard that the most important thing for an animator is to stay connected with many other artists. Through many WIA SVA events, I have met a lot of people in animation to learn from. The internship panel was one of the events WIA SVA hosted, where we heard what it is like to be an intern at studios such as Pixar, Nickelodeon, Blue Sky Studios, and 100 Chickens.

It was very informative and fun to communicate with our guests — Daniela Dwek (BFA Computer Art 2020), Annie Chen (MFA Computer Arts 2020), CK Lu (MFA Computer Arts 2020), Ziyi Wang (BFA Animation 2021) — and get to ask about our interests and concerns around interning as students.

SVA workshops
Ollie Yao (BFA Computer Art 2023, WIA SVA Marketing Manager) asking the Internship panelists a question during the Q&A portion of the event
SVA workshops
Image from “Long Gone Gulch,” alumni Tara Billinger (BFA Animation 2011) and Zach Bellissimo (BFA Animation 2011), and WIA SVA Leads Jenni Lo Pan and Brooke Burnett

Brooke Burnett (BFA Animation, WIA SVA Student Club Vice President):

Working collaboratively with other WIA SVA officers and academic advisors, WIA SVA has hosted a variety of events that provide engaging resources for learning about the ins and outs of the animation industry.

This past May, we hosted a panel about developing and pitching an original pilot with the creators of Long Gone Gulch, Tara Billinger and Zach Bellissimo. As a co-host of the program, it was humbling to have the opportunity to speak with Zach and Tara, and feel all of the participants were incredibly grateful for the knowledge and direct feedback they gained during the panel.

Blender Workshops

SVA Animation also holds shared workshops to broaden students’ technical skills. The most recent, hosted in the Summer and Fall 2021 semesters, were held in conjunction with Blender artists in the industry.

The first workshop took place in August and was taught by Satish Goda, a Technical Director currently at Netflix. In the first session, participants were able to familiarize themselves with the user interface, set up a scene, add physics to objects, and render the scene within two hours. Over the course of four sessions Goda ledd current students as well as recent graduates through a crash course in Blender, demystifying this very complicated program and empowering them to dive in.

Physics exercise in Blender by Lance Haug (BFA Computer Art 2023)
Physics exercise in Blender by Lance Haug (BFA Computer Art 2023)

The second series of workshops, aptly named “The Superpowers of Mixing Pencil Drawings and CG in Blender,” took place over October. They were taught by Alexandre Heboyan, an acclaimed filmmaker based in Paris. Alex showed attendees how to integrate 2d drawings in Blender with 3d elements using the Grease Pencil toolset, enabling artists to block out cinematic shots in a relatively short time. Thanks to Alex demonstrating his revolutionary workflow, attendees were able to storyboard scenes and edit their videos directly within Blender during the course of the workshop.

These are two examples of a few creative collaborations between the BFA Animation, BFA Computer Art, and MFA Computer Arts departments at School of Visual Arts. Coming together to learn outside the classroom has fostered collaboration and new initiatives in education.

Pictured at top: Alumni Daniela Dwek (BFA Computer Art 2020), Annie Chien (MFA Computer Arts 2020), CK Lu (MFA Computer Arts 2020), and Ziyi Wang (BFA Animation 2021) presenting at the WIA SVA Internship Panel.