Animation Grad Lands Dream Job at Disney

After graduating from the 3D Animation & Visual Effects program, Maia Neubig spent some time at Digital Domain, working on Jack the Giant Slayer, in theatres today, and Ender’s Game, which arrives later this year. Maia recently landed a position with Walt Disney Animation Studios and is heading to California to start work on Frozen, the story of a mountain climber and a young girl who attempt to end the perpetual winter that has fallen over their kingdom.

In the midst of packing for her move, Maia took the time to speak with us about her experience in the animation program, life since graduation, and landing her dream job.

Why did you choose to study 3D Animation & Visual Effects at VFS?

Maia: I had wanted to work in animation and visual effects for a long time. Since I knew fairly early on what I wanted to do, it basically just came down to choosing the right school to get me started. I did research on quite a few different schools and was attracted to VFS in part because of the short length of the program and the reputation of the school. What really appealed to me was the quality of work that came out of the 3D program. I watched the demo reels of students from many different schools and was most impressed by those of the VFS students.

What were some highlights from your time in the program?

Maia: I had a great experience at VFS. It’s quite intense so of course it was stressful at times, but overall it’s a great program. There are tons of resources at your disposal and if you use them to your advantage, you can have a really positive learning experience. The best part for me was the people I met. My class was comprised of students from all over the world, and they became like a family to me. I loved getting to know them and work beside them every day. It’s amazing how diverse and interesting the student population is at VFS. I loved meeting so many different people from so many different places.

How did you find the transition from student to working in the industry?

Maia: Transitioning from being a student at VFS to working in the industry is interesting because you learn so much at your first job and it’s very different than school. At work, you can’t procrastinate and you really learn how to optimize your time and work on a schedule in order to hit deadlines. VFS is similar to working in the industry in the connections you make with the people around you and the amazing friends you find in your co-workers.

What did you do at Digital Domain?

Maia: I was hired as a Rigging Intern but actually ended up doing cloth setup and simulation for Jack the Giant Slayer. I didn’t have much previous experience with cloth so I learned pretty much everything on the job. Luckily for me, I actually ended up loving cloth and decided to stick with it! After that, I did rigging on Ender’s Game, as well as a little bit of cloth development work.

You recently got a job with Disney and are heading to California. Can you tell us anything about the position? 

Maia: I am very excited to start at Disney. Working there has been a dream of mine since I was really little. I will be working as a Character TD, doing cloth and hair setup and simulation on their new movie, Frozen. I have loved Disney movies since I was tiny and have been fascinated with 3D animation ever since I saw the first Toy Story. Needless to say, getting a job at Disney is a pretty exciting opportunity for me.

Best of luck to you at Disney, Maia! Thanks for speaking with us.

If you want to see Maia’s work on the big screen, check out Jack the Giant Slayer, in theatres today. Along with Maia, the film had nearly 50 VFS grads working behind the scenes, from programs like Foundation Visual Art & Design, Writing for Film & Television, Film Production, Digital Character Animation, Classical Animation, and 3D Animation & Visual Effects.

The film is based on the classic fairytale, Jack and the Beanstalk, and stars Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, and Stanley Tucci. Check out the trailer below:

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