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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggie Animation

Graduate+student+Kelly+Kin+worked+with+DreamWorks+during+the+fall+of+2013.photo+by+Josh+Seal
Graduate student Kelly Kin worked with DreamWorks during the fall of 2013.photo by Josh Seal

Kelly Kin, a graduate visualization student, said she didn’t really know what to expect when she began working in her first professional animated production.
“At the beginning I was really afraid I was going too slow or that my work wasn’t good enough, but as part of my supervisor feedback to me, I learned to ask questions and really take advantage of my position as a newbie, so to speak, in this environment,” Kin said.
Kin completed a three and a half month internship at DreamWorks Animation in April, where she worked as a lighting apprentice on “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” Kin said she started looking into internships during the fall of 2013, but she said she was able to use professional contacts she had made during a summer course offered by the visualization department, taught by Ann McNamara
“What’s unique about the viz lab is that we have a summer industry course with professionals,” Kin said. “It alternates between Disney and DreamWorks. Within this 10-week course, the year I took it in 2012 is when DreamWorks came to visit. During the 10 weeks, the instructor taught the class on how to create a 30-second animated short and our class was divided into four teams so five students per team.”
One contact Kin made was Dave Walvoord, Class of 1993, who is the visual effects supervisor for “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
“Over the years I’ve been talking back and forth with him, asking him for feedback on my work and he’s been really great,” Kin said. “He’s helped me out with this other student short that I participated and helped out in called Sleddin’ which actually got into the SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater and won runner up to best student short.”
Kin said she asked Walvoord for feedback on the demo reel she was working on for her internship application and that Walvoord gave her the opportunity to work as one of the lighting apprentices.
Walvoord said he was impressed with Kin’s work when he worked with her at A&M and said he thought she had a lot of potential. He said the visual team for “Dragons 2” was able to find her spot at the end of the movie.
“She was thrown into a pretty tough situation because she came on when we were in our crunch for lighting,” Walvoord said. “She was kind of thrown in the deep end, but she did really well. We’re really happy.”
Referring to the movie as “Dragons,” Kin said her work on the film included creating the lighting for certain sequences.
Kin said the internship helped her “tremendously,” giving her experience and the opportunity to build relationships, people who she can reach out to the in the future when looking for jobs.
“The animation industry is actually pretty small,” Kin said. “It seems like everyone knows everyone so it was a really great thing to meet such bold and talented people and learning about how to work within the industry and also learning about myself and how I handle stress and how I handle deadlines and such. It’s actually a process that I really enjoy.”
Frederic Parke, director of the visualization lab, said the visualization department has spent years developing connections and relationships with multiple entertainment and visual effects studios to help students find contacts for internships.
“Internships are one very good way for students to gain insights into the various aspects of a career in visualization,” Parke said. “It also allows them to be mentored by practicing professionals and to gain experience working on real world projects.”
Because of the internship, Kin said she is more confident that lighting is something she wants to pursue as a career choice, as she plans to graduate in December.
“It’s a privilege being on lighting because lighting happens toward the end of a production timeline so it allows you to have that final touch in the end before it goes onto the big screen,” Kin said.
Kin said she is excited for the release of the film, saying it strives to exceed the expectations set by the high bar of the first Dragons, which was released in March 2010.
“With the second movie, the director Dean DeBlois was going for rather than just improving on the first, he’s going for more world building, just building upon the world that they’ve already created from the first film and fleshing out the characters more so it’s something that’s really exciting,” Kin said.
As a former student, Walvoord said he enjoys the moments when he is able to come back to A&M and work with students in the visualization department.
“The great thing about working with students is they just have so much energy and passion,” Walvoord said. “They have no idea what they can do and what they can’t do, so almost everything’s possible. I find it really inspiring actually to work with people who are so excited to do what I do.”

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