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Getting to know Beth

Discover how Beth, a Pixar artist, combines her love for art and math to create stunning visuals in animated films. Learn about her journey from graphic design to working on movies like Monsters University, and explore the importance of surrounding yourself with inspiring people to improve your skills.

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Video transcript

- Um, I grew up taking art classes every week, uh, on Saturdays in addition to my school art classes. So, I did a lot of drawing and painting, and as I got older I specialized a little bit more in like photography and design work. I think I've just always like puzzles, and problems to solve, and you know, it's so logical. It just, it fits together, and so, uh, I think that's why I always liked math. There is an answer. You can find the answer and solve it. Well, I really didn't know that a job like the job I have at Pixar would exist when I was in college. I studied graphic design and I really loved that. And then, when I was almost finished with undergrad, I stumbled upon an animation studio in Columbus, Ohio that was working on the movie Space Jam. And the idea that somebody in my hometown was working on a movie was just amazing to me. So, I showed up one day at their door, literally knocked on the door, and just tried to get an internship. And people, nobody knew what to make of me. They were like who are you? Do you have an appointment? And I was like no, I just really want to work here, and um, because I was really eager and excited, and they were impressed that I was looking for a summer job in January, the year before, I got a summer job. So I worked at that studio which was called Character Builders in Columbus, Ohio for ten years. And I worked on bunch of TV animation, uh, projects. As that was happening, 3D animation was becoming more and more popular, and kind of more and more awesome, and I really didn't know that much about it. And I was lucky in my second or third year in grad school, there were recruiters from Pixar that came to my program, which was a CAD at the highest university, and I was offered a technical director residency. So when I finished my Master's degree, I came to Pixar as a resident, and I've been here ever since. Um, I have been in shading and grooming. I started here on day and night, and um, started shading with props, uh, characters, and some set pieces. And I also started grooming on that project. And then I worked on several features and shorts as a groomer, and a character shading artist. - [Interviewer] What does a groomer do? - Groomers put hair and fur on things, so if you imagine, you know, if you give a dog a bath, and all of a sudden it's much, much skinnier? The same happens with our animal models. The bodies are much smaller, and we have to put the hair on to get the right silhouettes, so grooming sometimes is a cross between modeling and shading. It's sort of like modeling, because you're worried about the silhouette of the character and making their shape look correct, but it's also like shading in that you're responsible for the surface quality of the object. Um, one of my favorites was Art from Monster's University. He was a really fun challenge because he's just like an arch and he flips around all different ways, so there are a lot of rigging challenges, um, to get him to move the correct way. And then to keep the hair looking right with the little points in all the right places. That was a really fun one to work on. Make as much work as you can. Find as many people to hang out with that make work that you think is inspiring as you can. Surround yourself with people who are better than you, because they'll make you better at what you do.