Meet Virginia “Gini” Santos, Pixar’s first female supervising animator who worked on the studio’s upcoming film, the Dia de los Muertos-inspired “Coco”.
Gini was born in the Philippines, but she moved to Guam with her family when was just 3 years old, according to Philippine media outlet Rappler. She then returned to her birth country and took up advertising arts at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.
After getting her degree, Gini worked in the advertising industry for five years before she decided to go back to school. She enrolled at the School of Visual Arts in New York City where she earned her master’s degree in computer animation.
“I remember encouraging the owner and say, ‘Hey we should start getting computers.’ And so after 5 years, I decided I needed to go back to school and I said, I should study about computer art. So there was a computer art course in the School of Visual Arts. And so I ended up entering that, it was an MFA, major in computer art and they had computer animation, which I had never seen. So I joined that, I made a student reel, and then sent it to Pixar when Toy Story came out,” Gini said, recalling how desktop publishing in the 1990s was still becoming a trend at the time.
Gini began working for Pixar in 1996. Her first project with the company was “Toy Story 2” as a character animator. She then worked on several other projects, including “A Bug’s Life,” “Monster’s Inc.,” “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” and “Up”.
As a supervising animator, Gini is responsible for being the bridge that connects her department to others in the studio. She makes sure the animators get the necessary help they need to get the job done, and shares the information they have to the directors, Gini said in a different interview with Click the City.
She hopes to encourage other women to step up to the plate as well.
“Pixar has definitely been very active and just trying to support the diversity that we have now,” Gini said. “I’m feeling like hopefully having a woman as a lead will encourage other women to come through the ranks, knowing that there’s a woman in the room with them who could be supportive too.”
When asked if she’s open to pursuing another position in her field such as being a director, Gini admitted that the thought hasn’t crossed her mind yet.
“I don’t know if it’s something I’ve ever thought I wanted to do – I could do a short, possibly – but I just love animating,” she said.
“Sadly, as a Sup, I don’t get to animate anymore but I’ve always loved animating and figuring out the character especially if it’s a story I’m really interested in. We’ll see if I think of an idea and I want to do a short, I guess that’s kind of the path.”
Pixar’s “Coco” is scheduled to premiere in cinemas on Nov. 22.
Featured image via YouTube / Refraction Media