Andrew: Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? What made you want to get into this industry and focus into lighting? I understand you went to Ringling, but what classes did you study and challenges did you face that helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today? Was there any special training over at Ringling that produces such top quality students? Roughly how many hours a week did you polishing your skills to reach the level you are now, and maybe how many hours do you usually work now that you're in the industry?
Emily: I started out as a very traditional artists. Figure drawing and painting. I think traditional skills are what really helped me get to where I am. At Ringling, they have a set of classes that everyone in the major takes. You do traditional animation, CG animation, figure drawing,concept art, and storyboarding. They basically train you to be a generalist,but focus on animation. They're definitely an art school and not very technical. At Ringling, you're basically working non-stop. In the industry, at least I get to go home and rest...except during crunch. Which you still get to rest, just not as much. Normally we just work around 45 hour weeks, but crunch is definitely much more.
Andrew: Could you walk me through your hiring process for the internship Pixar,and Disney which lead to scoring a Lighting position? Did you just apply to Pixar or did the school provide connections to employees currently there? How long did it take from the time you applied, to the interview, and awarding the position? Did you do anything special with presenting your portfolio, and were you nervous when they called you for an interview?
Emily: For both Pixar and Disney I applied when they came to our school. Ringling has a great career services program. With Pixar they were fast. They came, gave interviews, left, gave phone interviews, then soon told us the results. I don't think I did anything special really. And yes, I was definitely nervous. When Disney called me, they didn't even know that I was at Pixar until I told them. So It was all just really good timing.
Andrew: Was it challenging to keep up with the internship program? After interning at both Pixar, and Disney, were you offered the apprentice position or did you have to apply for it?
Emily: They were pretty different programs. Pixar was just the internship, and was more of a classroom setup. Disney was more of an apprenticeship, where we each had our own mentors. Pixar didn't have any openings after the internship, but Disney was ramping up for Tangled, which is what I'm working on now.
Andrew: How is the environment like over at Pixar and Disney when you were there? What do you think other companies and schools can learn from these two companies with the way they train their interns?
Emily: Both environments are pretty different, and they're both great places to work at. It's interesting, cause you don't really know what it means to work there as an intern. Nothing compares to what you learn when you're actually in real production.
Andrew: Who are some of your favourite lighters? Do they have any website or show reel online?
Emily: I'm not sure if I have favorite lighters. Since I'm more of a painter, I have favorite artists. Lindsey Olivares, Sharon Calahan(who is a DP at Pixar), Bill Cone, Paul Lasaine, Ben Plouffe, and WassilyKandinsky, and Mark Rothko.
Andrew: Looking back, would there something you would change with your demoreel to better meet their expectations? Do you have any tips for students, and industry professionals who have their hopes to break into the animation feature film business?
Emily: I don't think I would change anything. I think most importantly, have passion for what you do. There's always going to be tough times, and I've been pretty lucky, but love what you do, and always strive to get better and learn more.
Andrew: I went to a school called Seneca where they offered an 8 month 3d program. After failing to get into the Pixar, I was working at a small company doing 3d work for documentaries which eventually lead to me scoring a position to work on Tron. It's cool, but my passion is really cartoons! If you can provide any feedback on my show reel and direct me as to how I can improve on it that would be super!
Emily: Congrats on the job! That's great you're working on Tron. So many people are excited about it. If you want to get more into cartoony things, you should light cartoonier. In terms of colors, you could use more variety. Not go crazy, but really look at your color contrasts. You have really nice work, but instead of the darks going more grey, you could have it going to a color. Also what's important, is lighting a scene with a character in it. And try to make sure your lighting sets a mood and tells the story,making sure the audience knows where to look.
I hope that was helpful! I'm sure you've learned much working on Tron! Goodluck!