How This Deep Dive Student Got the Chance to Work With the Brightest Minds at Pixar

Animated character named Lila who is young child in a pink wheelchair. Created by Brend

August 18, 2022

Brenda Cordova, a grandma from Ruidoso, says it was surreal earlier this year when she found herself getting animation critiques from storytellers at Pixar, one of the world’s most famous animation studios. But there she was, being taught by the most creative visual people in the country.

The opportunity came as part of her Deep Dive Digital Media bootcamp offered through CNM Ingenuity, and for her, it was a life-changing experience.

“The Pixar instructors completely pulled back the curtain and showed us step-by-step how they create their stories and animations,” says Brenda, who did her Deep Dive and Pixar classes remotely from her home in southern New Mexico.

The Pixar event is called Story Xperiental and it’s a nine-week seminar that all CNMI Deep Dive Digital Media students can participate in free of charge. Each Monday, students livestream with a different Pixar storyteller to learn their process and get helpful tips and tricks. Students also get technical advice and build their own story reels. Those reels are then critiqued each week by instructors and other students, and all the stories are presented in an exhibit at the end.

For her story, Brenda created a story reel about a character called Lila, which is based on her three-year-old granddaughter who has cerebral palsy. Brenda’s granddaughter is non-verbal, but Lila has a voice, and Brenda used that voice to help explain how a child with special needs navigates the world.

“In my story reel Lila talks about everything from making friends to going through therapy to associating with people around her,” Brenda says.

For Brenda, both the Deep Dive bootcamp and Pixar seminar gave her the chance to tell important stories and boost her technical skills. She’s already a talented photographer who works throughout the Ruidoso community, and now she can add digital animation and a host of other skills to her portfolio.

“I got to learn from the best, and I have no doubt that everyone’s help, from CNM to Pixar, allowed me take my work to the next level,” she says.

Now, Brenda says she’s become a self-appointed ambassador for both CNM and Pixar. She encourages anyone who’s creative to give both a shot because they’re so effective at boosting your skills.

“I realized that both the bootcamp and seminar have the potential to open so many doors,” she says. ”By skilling up there is so much more you can accomplish.”

The next Deep Dive Digital Media bootcamp starts Sept. 19 and applications are due Sept. 5. Learn more and apply here

The next Story Xperiental starts Oct. 3 and you can learn more here.

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