Sofia Dominguez



The goal of this unit:

“Truthfully and creatively portray a group, person, or idea in a community.”

Throughout this unit, we learned and refined a variety of skills to reach this goal: we learned how to research effectively, how to gather primary sources with interviews, how to represent an idea or person in a way that will make the audience become interested and empathize with it, and then use all of this information to develop a unique perspective on the significance of this documentary subject and the role it plays in its community and the world. These skills begin with the research paper in English, which is then used for the magazine article in Digital Media and the animated film in Animation.

Inspiration and Process

My documentary subject is Elsy, from Mountain View, California, who makes a living selling pupusas in her own home, by herself. She began this business during the pandemic, taking the economic instability of an extremely difficult time and converting it into an opportunity to not only feed her family and herself, but as a means to share her voice, to make her culture powerfully visible, and to share the authentic love of this culture with a community that desperately needs it.

Throughout this project, my focus on the documentary shifted quite a bit. As I am Mexican, I began contacting a Mexican restaurants with what I personally think have some of the best tortillas in California to interview them about authenticity, but was unable to keep in touch with them and receive an interview. I then changed my focus to a Mexican-Salvadoran restaurant, but for many complicated reasons, they were also unable to give me an interview. I began to feel very lost and hopeless at all the rejections and energy wasted. Then I turned to Elsy, and her unique, persistent personality made me realize that she was a perfect documentary subject. I turned my angle more towards cultural visibility and community strength rather than authenticity, and that was the final major change in my documentary. Even though these changes forced me to re-research topics, compiling up to over 25 secondary sources read, I am very satisfied with the direction this documentary ended up going.

I am also very proud of my magazine design for this article, specifically all the graphics I made in Illustrator that match very well with the theme, and the fact that I managed to fit almost eight pages of text in less than five without making it look crowded. Making a magazine article was something I had never attempted before and it had always seemed daunting, so I really learned a lot breaking out of my comfort zone. As for my Animation project, it was quite a heavy process of reaching milestones but still having heart-crushing amounts of work to do. What was nice about it, though, was that I could adjust and cut off work myself without affecting anyone else, unlike the Narrative Animation of the previous unit. I could work at my own pace with my own style. I also did some research and practice on using masks in Adobe After Effects and other effects that allowed me to become more comfortable with the program. In the end, there are some minor mistakes I would like to fix, but I am very proud of how my animation represents my subject, and I hope I did Elsy justice!

Intro Bio

Elsy making pupusas in her kitchen

First Interviewee and Documentary Subject: Elsy is a small business owner in Mountain View, CA. She has a family and a small dog, and is very passionate about cooking. You can contact her business at:






Tania and her Husband

Second Interviewee: Tania Alexander O’Connor is a community leader in Mountain View CA. She has involved herself in community organizations like Listos, which works for the Mariano Castro/Gabriela Mistral Elementary Schools’ community of undocumented families. She currently works in a biotech company, and has a small family.








Intro Video

Introduction to my documentary: turn your audio on please!

Full Paper & Article

documentary paper (click to view pdf)

My works cited and full documentary paper can be viewed if you click on the image to the right! I had to cut it down for the magazine version to fit it well.

Click the green pupusa on the left to go to my article in magazine form!




Full Interviews

Elsy’s interview was hand-translated for best accuracy. Click the green star for her full interview, and the red star for Tania’s!


This long-term self-design animation took around one month and a half to make, and is around 3 minutes (including credits). It was an incredibly difficult struggle to complete, as it constantly seemed like a never-ending torrent of work. Below I will go into what was particularly difficult and what I learned from this project.


These are the original storyboard pages: I ended up cutting the last two because of the time crunch, but I also realized that they weren’t that interesting or relevant to the other parts.

Concept Art

Here is the concept art, where I was trying to get a feel for what the style and color palette of the animation would become. I wanted to capture Elsy as a grown adult but still show charming elements to make it feel more alive.

Drawings of Elsy (Interviewee)
Click on image to view better

Behind the Scenes

I began the project by cutting down my interview audio to around 3:30 minutes. I also fit my live footage into a part of this audio, so I knew what parts I would animate over:

click to view full screen!

Animating in Photoshop: video explaining video layer technique and images describing coloring/sketching/clean sketching process


Animating in After Effects: putting things together small chunks at a time, learning how to use masks in simple ways. For this transition, I used two masks that change in size and position throughout the animation and overlaid a thought bubble frame on top.

click image to enlarge it!

Hand-subtitling in Premiere Pro: The little orange rectangles are subtitles of transition that I made by myself.

click to view full image!

Documentary Animation!