How Animators Bring Their Doodles to Life

Some of the most compelling animated stories on screen start as scribbles in a notebook.

September 03, 2019 Elisa Huang

Animation is back and bigger than ever. Thanks to advances in digital technology, animated movies burst onto today’s big screens one after another, and the art permeates pop culture. Some of the up-and-coming talents in the field are USC animation alumni streaming steadily out of the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts.

How do these artists find the inspiration for their creations? Two recent USC animation graduates —  Margaret Spencer ’19 and Yuri Jang MFA ’19 — explain their process as they guide us through the films they created as students to complete their animation program at USC.

How did Spencer get her start as an animator?

“I had a family friend who worked at Pixar and he offered to show me around because he knew that I liked drawing and grew up loving all the Pixar movies. The minute I walked into Pixar, it was like, ‘Oh, my God, I didn’t realize this was a career. I totally want to study animation. I want to work here.’”

After graduating from USC, Spencer began an internship at Pixar Animation Studios.

How did Jang get her start as an animator?

“One day while I was studying in Japan, I watched an anime film called Paprika by Satoshi Kon. I was amazed by his work, especially a dream sequence in the film. It was my first moment that I really wanted to make animation.”

After her USC graduation, Jang got an offer from Warner Bros. and she now is teaching animation at Loyola Marymount University.