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From Art School to PlayStation

Olga Rudi is an experienced 3D Artist specializing in modeling and texturing. She was a graduate student at the Academy of Art University’s School of Animation & Visual Effects from 2016 to 2018.

During her time at the Academy, she won several prominent awards including the Excellence Award, and Draft Award from the Rookies 2018 (an annual award and mentor platform sponsored by Autodesk), Winner in Academy of Art University’s Annual Spring Show, and more.

She earned her MFA in Animation and Visual Effects in Aug 2018. Olga is currently working as a character artist at PlayStation San Mateo.

Can you briefly introduce yourself to us? 

Olga Rudi (OR): Hello everyone! My name is Olga. I come from a small country in Eastern Europe, Moldova. I earned my Masters of Fine Arts in Animation and Visual Effects with 3D Modeling emphasis from the Academy of Art University’s School of Animation & Visual Effects. Now I am working as a character artist at PlayStation San Mateo.

How did AAU prepare you for your career?

OR: I think, the highlights of my portfolio were my thesis pieces. The essential part of the Academy’s MFA program is about the thesis project.

After your idea gets approved you will take group directed study classes (GDS) where you can focus on making your ideas come to life. During these courses, you would gain a lot of knowledge about the specifics of the industry.

For example, I took a lot of organic modeling GDC where I learned a lot about anatomy and fabrics which benefit my career substantially.

Olga Ruid, ANM & FVX Alum/ PlayStation Character Artist

What is your experience of getting real-world experience on campus?

OR: I took the Studio X class halfway through my program. Overall I think it was helpful but how can you capitalize on this class as a student, mostly depends on your initiative and enthusiasm.

Because Studio X is not a traditional class but an in-house studio where students can take on live projects and learn how to develop their projects in a professional working environment.

Therefore, it requires a lot of discipline and self-starting spirit just like working in the real world. Though I managed to get a lot done in this class, I know some who only worked on one project. 

Moreover, an alternative way for me to gain real-world experience on campus was by collaborating with other academic departments, such as Game Development.

For example, one day I saw a flyer in our elevator recruiting modelers. So I contacted the instructor and got accepted to that project. It turned out, we were making an interactive 3D experience for well-known illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi and the Norman Rockwell Museum. It would definitely boost your chances in being hired when you have a project like this on your resume

How do you think Academy’s Spring Show helps you as a newly grad?

OR: Getting into Spring Show was definitely my top priority ever since I got in the Academy. Because you will be exposed to so many new people and more importantly you will be able to connect with recruiters from the industry.

To prepare for the Spring Show, I worked…a lot. Simple as that. My goal was to have at least two finished thesis pieces to show the recruiters (besides my other 3D work).

In addition, I prepared my demo reel, website and made around 20 hard copies of my resume for the Spring Show.

Any fun memories about your student-life at AAU?     

OR: Student life is fun! While I spent most of my free time in the lab working on projects, the Academy offers various activities for students to participate in. My favorite was the pumpkin-carving contest.

We do not celebrate Halloween in my home country, therefore, I really enjoyed designing and carving my first pumpkin. Also, San Francisco is an amazing city to live in and study art, tons of creative events and street fairs!

Any advice for current students or those who are interested in the Academy’s Animation & VFX School?

OR: I think my advice is being honest with yourself. Remember why did you come to Academy and what your goals have also been.

Put in a good amount of hours in what you do and don’t leave it for last minute. Always have your portfolio ready, you will never know when the opportunity is going to present itself.

And lastly, you should be nice to people and nourish the connections you have on campus.

Because anyone at the Academy could become your fellow colleagues one day or some might get hired by your dream company who can always give you a helpful referral. So establishing these connections now which will help you in a long run.

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