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Getting to know Ana

Ana, a Pixar shading artist, shares her journey from Uruguay to Pixar, blending her passions for art and engineering. She explains her roles as a lighting and shading artist, emphasizing the importance of material qualities and light interaction in creating realistic visuals. Ana encourages embracing mistakes and pursuing passion for a fulfilling career.

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Video transcript

- I grew up in Uruguay. A little country between Brazil and Argentina. There's about three million people in the country. I did not have any experience. (laughs) I came straight from school. I have a duel degree in electrical engineering and fine arts. I am kind of right brain, left brain, kind of person. I really like arts and I really like engineering, and I found out there was a career that you can combine both, so I thought that was great. And then I just happen to interview with Ed Catmull, was the president at the time. I just thought it would be great to meet one of the people that had written some of the stuff in my books. And so I went for the interview and I got the job. When I went to college, I was really interested in sculpting. That was my main path. I worked a lot in clay, I worked on paper, I worked on wire. At the end of my career I started doing a little bit of computer graphics, but not a lot. So when I came to Pixar, of course I wanted to be an animator, but the people that know best (laughs) decided that probably a technical director career would be best for me, given that I had the technical orientation and the art, as well. But the first one I did was lighting TD on Geri's Game. - [Interviewer] What do lighters do? Lighting TDs? - Lighting TD. So if you can imagine a theater and putting up the lights wherever you want the character to be looking pretty for the camera, that's basically what lighting TDs do. We are trying to emphasize the story and what we want to get across, and then make our things look pretty, or scary, or whatever they need to be as part of the story. And then I started working in shading. For shading, I did a lot of prop shading, I did set shading, and recently I've been doing a lot more character shading. And I also worked as a lead shading artist for The Good Dinosaur. Shading is basically creating the material qualities as you see in objects. So when the models come to us, they're basically just white plastic, and we make them look the way that they're supposed to look. So if you have a piece of wood, you want to figure out what kind of pattern you want on the wood, or how does the light interact with the material. If there's certain bumpiness to it, if it's reflective, if it feels smooth, or if the light goes into the wood a little bit and bounces around and comes off. So there's a lot of math involved into trying to figure out that kind of system, and how does the illumination interact with the material, and how do you perceive it. And a lot of the times it's really funny because the idea that you have mentally of what the object should look like is actually really different from what you want to put on the screen. Sometimes I'm driving around and I'll see a cloud on the sky and I'll think to myself, if I make that cloud on the computer it will look completely wrong, and people would not believe it's a cloud. But it's up there, it's in the sky. So a lot of times you have to figure out what our idea of the cloud is, versus what the cloud really is. I just like, for me cooking is almost like a little bit of a travel experience. It's an adventure. So I tend to do really strange dishes from what we're used to having. Love using new ingredients and stuff that I can't pronounce, and just go for it. Don't be afraid to say you don't know something because that's the only way you can learn. Don't be afraid to make mistakes because that's the only way we learn. And just keep shooting for what you want to be, what you're passionate about. That's really what's important because that's what will make you happy in the future, just working for your passion.