Blog Spotlight Students

Taylor Saunders

Tell us about yourself!

So I am what they like to call a “super-senior.” Essentially, I’ve taken my Senior Classes but I still have a few classes left until I graduate. This year, I’ve gotten the awesome opportunity to be a part of the SDGM 560 film, Bearly, which I’m a Co-Producer on! The film is looking super awesome already and I can’t wait to share it with y’all! I am a Production Assistant for Troy Gustafson, as well as a Student Aide for the Chair of the Animation Department. I’m a huge animal person, and I have three dogs and two cats!

What area of animation do you enjoy the most and why? 

So initially I wanted to go into Character Animation, but as I started taking classes I’ve fallen in love with Lighting! I had the awesome opportunity to do all the lighting for my Senior film, For Luna. I’ve loved getting to learn new programs and push my lighting abilities!

What is a challenge that you’ve had to overcome? 

I’ve had a lot of issues since I started SCAD with getting enough funding to actually attend classes. It’s been a huge struggle for me, and I had to take a quarter off because of this, which pushed off my graduation. But it’s actually been a blessing because I have an entire year to really perfect my demo reel and learn as much as possible! Plus I get to be on the SDGM film now!

What advice would you give yourself as a freshman? 

Explore different areas of animation early on and find what you like to do, and stick with it. There’s so many different areas to focus on like lighting, modeling and rigging and I don’t think these areas get explored enough!

What inspires you during a difficult project? 

When I find myself getting stressed, I take a break and watch animated movies, usually Disney movies. It’s a great reminder of why I fell in love with animation, and usually gives me the boost I need to get right back to work!

What experiences have stood out to you? 

Definitely working on my Senior Film, For Luna. Working with a group of seven, we were severely limited and everyone had to take on additional responsibilities. It really helped me push myself in my skills and time management, and I learned more on that film than I did during the rest of my time at SCAD! I’ve also really enjoyed being a Production Assistant for Troy, because I’ve gotten to help other students push themselves and watch them grow! Also, getting to work with the Chair and the Associate Chairs, Chris, John and Thomas. I love being able to help them and see all the awesome changes happening in the animation department! I also get to do the header for our social media and emails, and it’s fun coming up with lots of cool ideas!

What are some things you are looking forward to this year?

The SDGM 560 film, Bearly!! It has so much potential and I think it’s really going to stand out from other films at SCAD! It’s going to be a musical, and we are actually collaborating with the Sound Department to create the music which is a first!

What inspires you?

Disney and my dogs!

What classes have you enjoyed, and why?

My Senior Classes were super stressful, but looking back I learned so much about animation, lighting, and myself!

What made you decide to go to SCAD, and when did you choose to go to SCAD?

Going to SCAD was kind of a sudden decision for me. I was going to a University back in Virginia, and was one semester away from graduating. I knew I wanted to go into animation; however, CNU only had one animation class and I was really skeptical about getting into the industry. On a whim, I applied to SCAD and got in and never looked back!

What type of studio would you like to work in when you graduate?

I would love to work for either a feature film company or a video game company! Of course Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks and Blue Sky are up on my list, but I’ve learned about a lot of awesome companies during my time at SCAD!

Do you have any advice for working as part of a team?

Know your strengths and weaknesses. Short films are not easy, especially with a small team. And don’t slack off, it just creates more work for the rest of your teammates who I promise are already overworked! Also, work with your team. You won’t survive in the industry as a lone wolf.

What has your favorite project been during your time at SCAD?

I took a class with Professor Steele and we had to create a parody of three scenes from a movie and recreate it muppet style! We were responsible for all aspects of the short, from creating the animatic to modeling, texturing, rigging and animating! It was awesome to get to try my hand at all of these different areas of animation, and is where I first discovered my interest in lighting. I think since I’ve taken the class they’ve changed the structure of it, but I learned so much from that class!

Do you have a favorite animated movie?

I feel like it changes regularly, but anything Disney! For 2D I love Mulan, and for 3D I’ve been obsessed with Frozen, Zootopia, and other newer movies. Each year they get better and better, and are such an inspiration.

When in your life did you decide to choose animation as a career?

For some reason, I never crossed my mind that animation was a career. After high school I started out at a local community college while I decided what I wanted to do and took lots of art classes. I really wanted to go into art, but I wasn’t sure what area. Someone suggested that I look into animation, and I fell in love! It was like something clicked into place for me. I grew up with Disney and have been obsessed since I could remember.

What are some things you enjoy doing in your free time?

Playing with my dogs! They keep me busy with walks and training but I love taking them on trails. It’s a nice break from everything and often we find places with awesome views! I also love to paint, though I feel like I never get to paint as much as I would like, but that’s okay!

Thank you so much Taylor for taking the time to have this interview! Check out more of her work on her Website or Instagram!

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