Digital Media Class of 2014
What are you doing now?
I work as a Product Designer on the Maya team at Autodesk, specifically on the Animation team. This means I work understanding and addressing customer (specifically animators’) problems with workflows in Maya. This relates to software features that are missing, existing but not working as desired, dated (which is often the case in a software as old as Maya) or buggy. The Product Designer role extends a bit further than User Experience, since I look at animation as a whole in Maya as a product itself. I work with a wide variety of animators in the very many fields that they may use our product (feature film animation, VFX, motion graphics, video games, even anime). I research to understand what they need, and then work with an agile team to design and develop features and fixes. This is with the intent of making animators’ lives easier so ultimately they can continue to create the content we all enjoy with less frustration on account of the software.
Is there something specific you have done since ginraduation that you are particularly proud of?
After a long stretch of heads down work implementing and iterating on workflow enhancements to the Animation toolset in Maya this past year for the Maya 2018 release, in the last few months I was lucky enough to do customer visits for research and design validation. I was able to travel to many exciting parts of the world to meet with and learn from talented creators from studios such as EA, Ubisoft, Brown bag, Arc Systems Works, Disney and Studio Ghibli. Being able to see that the work I’ve been doing has allowed animators to do more and more amazing things in less time and easier has been remarkably gratifying.
How has your experience at York and in the Digital Media program prepared you for what you are doing now?
Digital Media was quite broad reaching when I was studying, but the courses I took that covered User Experience, Human Computer Interaction, research projects and general design-oriented projects have helped me to get where I am. Admittedly, a lot the skills I learned in my year taking Graphic Design as well as fine arts electives aided me quite a bit in gaining a design sense, vital for working in user experience. Learning how to conduct research, be critical and analytical has been imperative to my career. So much of my work hinges on research and analysis to work through to a conclusion and ultimately come up with a solution, which is very much what we did in many DM courses.
Do you have any advice for current Digital Media students?
Advice I’d give current students is to try a variety of things the program has to offer and be open minded: you may end up discovering something you’re really passionate about in that one course you took for a mandatory credit. Additionally, foster a critical mind, be open to critique and question everything. If something is difficult, question why it’s important, what makes it difficult, and what could be done differently to make it better; don’t be afraid to be direct but constructive. I went into my interview recounting my experience struggling with Maya, why I found it so challenging to learn, and how the complexity of the software basically shattered my dreams of becoming a 3D modeler, but I was able to offer constructive suggestions as to what could change to make things easier. This landed me a job.