From MITID to Microsoft with Ankita Panda

From MITID to Microsoft with Ankita Panda
Introducing Ankita Panda, a motion director and designer nestled in the global creative hub of Los Angeles. With an impressive portfolio including collaborations with industry giants like MediaMonks and Mousetrappe, Ankita's expertise spans a variety of platforms including products, commercials, social media, and live event projections. In this feature we trace her journey from the halls of MITID to her current position as a Senior Motion Designer at Microsoft Xbox.
Visuals and music have always been an integral part of my early interests so pursuing a career in design and animation seemed like a natural fit.
Filling the pages of drawing books and decorating her room with handmade trinkets marked the start of her passion for visual expressions. For her, these activities felt like a natural way to tell stories.
To me, stories are built from experiences that transpire from observation and awareness of oneself and one's context, and so animation emerged as a natural fit for a career choice.
Soon she was introduced to traditional design and animation techniques at MIT Institute of Design; building the foundation for the years the come.
Having trained at Trip Creative Services then That’s it Animation studios and after that Paperboat Animation Studios, led by Soumitra & Shilpa Ranade, marked Ankita’s first steps into the industry.
Choosing to pursue her post-graduate education at the University of Southern California was one of the turning points in Ankita’s career. She say,” Moving to LA was a significant leap, marking one of the biggest risks I've taken. However, this move has transformed my career and my life.”
‘NINE’ a project by Ankita exploring Cinema 4D, Photoshop, After Effects, Premier Pro and cell animated.
At USC, Ankita found outstanding faculty members with expertise ranging from traditional animation to cutting-edge interactive media. She had the freedom to explore her interests deeply, thanks to the program's flexibility. Her thesis advisors, Kathy Smith, an experimental filmmaker from Australia, and Mike Patterson, a renowned director recognized for iconic works such as A-ha’s “Take on Me” music video, played pivotal roles in her academic and creative growth.
‘PAUSE PLAY REPEAT’ Ankita’s thesis project during her time at The Fox Fellowship.
Further Ankita received a fellowship to study at USC that broadened her access to numerous subjects within filmmaking, tech and journalism. Talking about creating animations for Wrigley Research Institute, Ankita says,” This opportunity, which I wouldn’t have had without the fellowship, showed me the broad potential applications of design and animation beyond commercials and film, expanding my career horizons significantly.”
Made by Ankita during her coursework at USC
‘BREAKTHROUGH ENERGY VENTURES’ made by Ankita for The Gates Foundation
Fresh out of college, she freelanced for clients such as HBO, Hulu, Disney, and Fox, and collaborated with cultural institutions like the Getty and Pacific Asia Museums on live events. These experiences led to opportunities at MediaMonks, and eventually to her current role as a Senior Motion Designer at Microsoft Xbox.

‘Heaven’s Gate’ – Animation Sizzle’ in which Ankita worked on 2D Animation and painting in collaboration with HBO Max. Find the link to the project here.


’Up Here – Title Sequence’ in which Ankita worked as a 2D Animator in collaboration with Yu+Co and Yulu. Find the link to the project here.

Talking about her brief two-month tenure at 21st Century Fox, she collaborated with a team of six designers and engineers on an exciting project: a mobile game for the Alien franchise, reminiscent of "Five Nights at Freddy's" but with Xenomorphs. Working with a diverse team, they used motion capture to animate the motions of alien creatures.
While working at Mousetrappe, Ankita had the thrilling opportunity to work on a Halloween special projection project for Disneyworld in Florida. The projection show was a huge hit during the Halloween season in 2019, and Ankita says,” We crafted our designs on a small-scale 3D model of the Disney castle right in our office, where I spent two months meticulously mapping content onto its front surface”.

DEEP THOUGHTS: A series of blobs & animated GIFs for Media.Monks. Find the project here.

Ankita has also held interesting roles with GLAS Animation, Cal Poly, and ASIFA-Hollywood. As a Production Coordinator at GLAS, she connected with filmmakers globally, expanding her network beyond LA. This involvement led to her role as a judge for short films at ASIFA-Hollywood. Additionally, Ankita explored teaching design as a lecturer at Cal Poly, where she facilitated a motion design course to undergraduate students.

Motion Design for Motionographer’s Motion Awards. Find the link to the project here.

She says,” It helped me realize that my true passion lies in the fast-paced world of creating rather than teaching. This insight led me back to freelancing once the semester concluded, reaffirming my love for the dynamic hustle of the design industry.”

‘SPACE & TIME’ made in Maya with Redshift by Ankita for IMAX. Find the link to the project here.

At her current role at Xbox, working alongside a cross-disciplinary team of designer and engineers, she oversees all motion design aspects across various platforms, including the console, PC, handheld devices, and mobile, ensuring a cohesive and engaging experience throughout.

‘UNSHUTTERED’ made in C4D, After Effect and mapped in Touch Designer by Ankita for The Getty Museum. Find the project here.

Comparing the animation industry in LA and India, she says,” While I cherish the rich culture and storytelling in India, something that LA lacks, one of the stark contrasts I've observed is the difference in compensation and quality of life for artists. To sustain a similar quality of life were I to return to India, I'd likely need to embark on a new venture by starting my own studio!”
Ankita has recently stepped into the entrepreneurial arena with BLANK_IT, her design store offering modern, functional, and sustainable lifestyle products. She tackled challenges like building a client base, gaining consumer trust, and navigating market unpredictability. Despite setbacks, Ankita sees this journey as a profound learning experience, fueling her growth as both a designer and a business owner
LA’s vibrant design and film community makes it a place where creatives thrive. Ankita proactively seeks opportunities, collaborating with professionals from diverse skillsets and sustaining a network of collaborators
I make it a point to accept as many new work proposals as possible and strive to execute each project to the best of my abilities. This approach not only helps in maintaining strong relationships with clients and colleagues, but often leads to repeat engagements.
Talking about the emerging AI technology and AI-driven tool, Ankita believes that although it streamlines and accelerates production which frees up time for creativity, it also prompts designers to redefine their roles. She adds,”It's a dynamic landscape and I am excited to explore and embrace these changes. This is also the most exciting part of working at Microsoft!”
Balancing work, personal projects like BLANK__IT, and self-care isn't stressful for Ankita. Without family commitments, she manages her time well. She enjoys staying busy with various activities, which keeps her happy.
With 24 hours in a day, I feel there’s ample time to accomplish a great deal! I’ve just started training for another half marathon. 😀
On that note, we come to the end of this feature and wish Ankita Panda all the best for the future!
You can connect and stay updated with Ankita’s work on the channels below:
Ankita Panda