By Kyo Lee, Grade 11 student in the WRDSB

Karina is a Grade 12 student and filmmaker in the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB). Her 3D animated film Nix’s Symphony has gained international recognition across Berlin, the United States, Singapore, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Kenya and India. It has received awards at the Berlin International Art Film Festival, the Cannes Art Fest and the Accolade Global Film Competition. The film has been showcased at events like Madame Zuzu’s Film Festival and Seattle’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival. Karina’s film has been recognized for its exceptional score, sound design and animation that stood out even among professional composers and filmmakers. In total, Karina has been recognized with 60 awards and nominations spanning 14 countries.

Nix’s Symphony is an animation about Nix, an aspiring musician and inventor, burdened with the sudden responsibility of upholding her mother’s legacy as a distinguished inventor and composer. The six minute film has 89 shots that were each manually animated—the creation of the film took 900 hours over five months. Karina wrote the script, composed the music and designed the characters herself. So many detailed pieces of the film required comprehensive effort, from recording sound effects to researching a dragonfly’s wing mechanics.

Mr. Bishop, Karina’s teacher, comments that “the level of nuance and detail in her projects is remarkable especially considering that she works solo and does everything from script to soundtrack to architecture to character to lighting and editing, all to an exceptional standard.” He says that Karina is “highly creative and a highly skilled artist and animator” and is “thrilled to see one of my students go so far beyond my courses and achieve great things.”

Winning awards including the one from the Berlin International Art Film Festival (BIAFF) and Cannes Art Fest motivates and inspires Karina. Both are large festivals that attract high budget films worldwide and make the film Internet Movie Database (IMDb) qualifying.

Nix’s Symphony is not Karina’s first experience with music or film. Her journey with music started when she was just three years old. In her seven years singing with the Grand Philharmonic Choir, she often performed with the KW Symphony, which inspired the idea of Nix being involved in music. Despite her experience, Karina still finds it difficult to compose music, a struggle also reflected in Nix.

Film is an integral tool for expression for Karina: “3D modeling and animation allows me to create worlds—there’s no limit to what I can create.” To her, “art and film is a way to express myself and my point of view.” Karina believes that artistic subjects and creative opportunities are important in a student’s academic experience and hopes that more will be available in the future.

The support Karina received from her teachers played a large role in her pursuit of film. “Throughout high school, my teachers for media arts and communication tech have been incredibly helpful in…help[ing] me further develop my skills and establish my own style.” She is grateful for the teachers who supported using her strengths for class projects such as atom models in science, animated presentations in English or 3D modeled scenes for visual arts.

Speaking to aspiring student artists and filmmakers, Karina says, “Art, animation and filmmaking is hard… [so] be nice to yourself and try to learn as much as you can.”

Karina has been accepted into Vancouver Film School for its 3D animation and VFX program which she will be attending this fall. In the future, she wants to teach 3D animation and open her own studio, with the goal of “influenc[ing] as many people as possible, as positively as possible.”

#StudentVoice Series

This article is written by a WRDSB student and is part of the Student Agency and Voice program. Student journalists embody WRDSB’s commitment to creating space for students to tell their stories. They are ambassadors for their peers as they share their personal experiences and stories about their schools and communities in their unique voices.