Student Spotlight: Nancy Tsang

Nancy Tsang, DMD student

Photo credit: Mark Stehle

NANCY DREW: A native of Beaverton, Ore., Tsang, a Senior in the Digital Media Design program, took private art lessons from age six through high school, learning oil painting and sketching. “I actually didn’t draw that much from life but I drew out of books and I copied a lot of things,” she says. After arriving at Penn, she turned her attention to inanimate objects and actual observations. Eventually she became interested in 3D modeling.

RENAISSANCE WOMAN: Tsang says she chose Penn over an art institute because she wanted a well-rounded education. “I wanted to learn about a lot of different things,” she says. “I’m still interested in a lot of different aspects of art and history. … Another reason was because my parents wanted me to do computer science, so this was kind of like a good middle ground.”

HIGH PRAISE: Amy Calhoun, associate director of the Digital Media Design program, says Nancy Tsang’s talent “far exceeds anyone we’ve seen, ever. She is amazing.”

MINNIE MOUSE: The summer before her junior year, Tsang served as an artistic intern at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, Calif., concentrating on 3D modeling. The studio was working on the film “Bolt” at the time, and although union rules prevented her from working on actual productions, she was able to work closely with an assigned mentor and participate in class sessions about lighting and visual development.

FUN DMD: Tsang’s favorite class so far was her mixed media animation seminar. “I’m actually really interested in stop-motion and just building things with my hands,” she says. “In that class you got to make puppets and then animate them. It’s a very laborious process. But it’s pretty fun.”

MAKIN’ MOVIES: Tsang will receive her B.S. in Engineering in May and already has a one-year residency lined up with Pixar Animation Studios, the company behind the animated hits “Finding Nemo,” “Cars,” “Ratatouille” and “Wall-E.” “I’m definitely still kind of amazed and in disbelief that I’m going to be working for Pixar,” says Tsang. “I was planning on going to smaller studios and working my way up to Pixar.” She interned there last summer in Emeryville, Calif., assisting in 3D modeling for the upcoming “Toy Story 3.” “That was really cool,” she says. “I definitely thought I would be doing something technical in my internship, but I ended up doing really artistic stuff. I was meeting with the art department, seeing the concept art and getting to create it.”

SKY’S THE LIMIT: Not yet sure what she wants to do with the rest of her life, Tsang says it would be fun to work for a stop-motion animation company. “I’m just kind of going with the flow right now,” she says.

Originally published March 26, 2009

Originally published on March 26, 2009