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Northeastern alumna Claudia Vilcu graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Arts with a concentration in Animation that prepared her for her role at The SPA Studios (Sergio Pablos Animation), where she worked right after graduation. During her time at SPA, which is located in Madrid, Spain, Claudia had the opportunity to grow her skill set while gaining valuable experience including the development and design of FX, 3D elements, and final compositing of shots in the Netflix feature animated film Klaus.

Claudia started out at SPA as a 3D Generalist in 2018, focusing on 3D effects to project textures. Shortly after, she shifted into a Digital Compositor role, where she was responsible for assimilating several elements together to create one cohesive shot.

“In the case of Klaus, this included the background paintings, 2D characters, 3D objects, and animations and FX, such as snow, wind, and fire,” Claudia described. “This implied developing the final look of the effects, making sure the characters matched the atmosphere and setting of the background, adjusting the color grading, matching the look of the shot with the other shots in the sequence or determining how much of the film’s painterly brushstrokes to apply to each character.”

Claudia worked side-by-side art directors and supervisors to finalize mood and feeling for each scene. She had first seen a teaser of the film back in 2015 from the Northeastern Animation club, but it wasn’t until she was reunited with SPA studios at the Annecy Animation Festival in France, that she was able to put herself in front of their recruiting team. She added, “I immediately recognized the images from Klaus and I requested an interview with SPA recruitment mostly because I was curious to learn more about the movie—not actually expecting to get a job there. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I got the offer.”

A major influence on Claudia’s work at SPA: the people. By joining a team of fellow artists that shared a passion for this film eased some of the high-pressure moments.

The best part about working on Klaus was that being such a beautiful project, the motivation when working on it was intrinsic.

She added, “It’s also just exciting to be part of the development of a new way of creating a 2D animated film.”

Claudia also credits access to a community of like-minded individuals and the resources at Northeastern that contributed to her success after graduation. Groups like the Animation Club empowered Claudia to engage and learn from peers that shared her desire to keep learning beyond the classroom.

Even as a freshman, I got to learn aspects of the craft from senior students and integrate their experience into my own, well beyond any curriculum requirements.

She continued, “animation is definitely a field where one’s curiosity and passion need to bleed beyond mandatory class material, and NU classmates and professors really encouraged my own personal development within the framework of the college. I still keep in touch with a few of my classmates and also alumni that graduated in different years than me. It’s great to learn about the projects they are working on and to see that even years after graduation we still help each other out.”

During her undergraduate experience, Claudia had the opportunity to build a portfolio that was targeted towards the jobs she was interested in, mostly through Capstone classes that allowed her to explore working with effects and procedural software. As a student, she also participated in a Dialogue of Civilizations to England, where she spent three weeks in London and two in Bath. During this trip, the group visited several studios, including an animation studio called Aardman Studios. During this particular tour, Claudia was able to visit the set of Shaun the Sheep with access to the entire character-making process. “It was exciting, inspiring and the trip gave us the opportunity to work on our passion projects with total freedom. For me personally, this dialogue reminded me that the industry is expanded across the globe and I don’t need to limit my geographical options after graduation,” she said.

“I greatly enjoyed having the freedom to explore courses not necessarily linked to my major, but at the same time seeing them become more relevant than I thought they would be,” Claudia concluded. “I went on a second dialogue to Ireland with Professor Mira Cantor, both as a student and as a TA, in an absolutely stunning location on the West coast of the island. Letting that land inspire my art was one of the most soul-nourishing moments I had during my time at Northeastern.”

To explore more of Claudia’s work, click here.