Google’s newly minted initiative, Made with Code, is geared towards educating and inspiring young women to look more closely at computer sciences and coding as a career path. With a 50 million dollar investment over three years, the program pairs local events, real-life mentors, and existing “makers” in a community atmosphere. Among the mentors that have profiles on the Made with Code site is Pixar’s own, Danielle Feinberg (Directors of Photography for Lighting).
Danielle’s profile video briefly chats about her passion for lighting in computer animation and highlights the importance of confidence in the workplace — but this introduction video really sets the stage for Danielle’s Made With Code Launch Party presentation where she really shines (UPDATED: The video has been removed, but a different video highlighting Made With Code and Danielle has been added below). Mindy Kaling, the voice of the emotion “Disgust” in the upcoming Pixar film, Inside Out, introduced Danielle to the stage and kicked things off in her usual energetic style.
Throughout the presentation, Danielle drives home the idea of following your own voice and setting your own path. Danielle mentioned how following her interests and not following the pack has led her to Pixar – where she’s now been for 17 years. As the Director of Photography for Lighting, Danielle describes that she works to determine the look and feel of an animated scene utilizing lighting, but underneath all the lights that she places in a scene are thousands of lines of code.
Feinberg tells a great story about the computer “choking” on her during the development of the lighting style for Brave and how she ended up loving the end result anyway. The speech weaves its way perfectly from film anecdotes like the one mentioned above to the importance of coding, to personal examples of confidence and knowledge. Danielle’s launch party presentation ends with a great quote that garnered quite a rousing applause – “Be brave enough to follow your own voice and create the world that you want”.
Danielle’s work has always inspired me personally so I’m glad to see that she’s a part of the Made with Code mentoring program and will continue to inspire even more people with her dedication to the craft of animation and light. The portion of the speech that resonated with me the most was when she discussed how she mistook knowledge for confidence in a way that was holding her back. I think at some level, we all kind of feel like phonies in our jobs, at school or maybe even among friends. When I say “phonies”, I mean that at times we all might say to ourselves, “how did I get here among these people – do I even fit in – I feel like everyone knows more than me or is smarter than me”.
I guess I can’t speak for everyone, but confidence is something we all have in doses – one day we’re feeling full of it and the next day, we’re drained. It’s speeches like Danielle’s that have the power to give you another dose of the inspiration we need to keep our confidence up. Although I may not have been the target audience to be inspired by this as a 30-something male, it doesn’t matter – inspiration can come from anywhere and I’ll take it.