At the beginning of this academic year back in September I set out to expand my horizons. Hoping for enjoyable and enriching experiences I looked for entertaining contacts and interesting exchanges of ideas, which would widen my own ideas of animation and improve the diversity of my skill set. My goal is to discover new perspectives on where our industry is going, gather information on what practical skills I could acquire and to increase my knowledge of the latest trends in both 2D and 3D animation as well as all the skills which fall under general animation.
With my senses on alert, I sought out contacts, knowledge and information which would open the door to better opportunities for an interesting and enriching experience on my placement. I began this year prepared to learn anything as long as I could find a way to practically apply it and it serve my personal development to becoming a better animator.
At this point in my year I am about to undergo a change of lifestyle and of scenery as I set out for Durban to learn new skills and broaden my experience all the more, which is why I feel at this point it would be best to write up a brief and complete summary of everything I have done to improve myself as an animator while in Britain.
In September I made my way over to London where I was working as a character animator for Digital Shoguns. I worked for them for 3 months and I received 4 different projects from them 2 for TV and advertising and 2 for game play. As I wanted to make the most of my time in London I decided to go out and meet some of the studios who’s work I really enjoyed. While I was working on these different goals I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to tutor an aspiring animator. I tutored her in a variety or areas, mainly Maya, CG animation and modelling, but also in concept art, character design and improving her core art skills.
The two studios I went out to meet and talk to while I was in London were Escape Studios and GoldenWolf. I liked these two studios because they had fairly different outlooks and outputs for their work. GoldenWolf is a bespoke combination studio where they create unique pieces of work individually for clients, using many different disciplines. Some of their work is 3D and 2D but they also do some rotoscoping and stop-motion animation along side live action footage. Escape Studios however is a much longer established studio which a huge client base. They create VFX, games and animation, mainly working in 3D. Escape Studios also started up Pearson College where they do intensive courses to prepare their students for industry, they’re very focussed on keeping all of their graduates up to date on what is current in the industry and creating a strong network of contacts.
I also used Inktober, an event which takes place during October, to improve my illustrative skills so that my storyboarding and character and concept design would be improved. I really enjoyed participating in this and seeing the work of other artists who took part as well. It was a really fun way to learn a new style of drawing and creating a collection of work.
Going to London taught me a lot about networking and meeting contacts and was a really great way to keep my skills sharp with character animation while at the same time improving my ability to communicate with my tutoring and expand my own network of contacts by meeting new people who were already in industry. I really enjoyed the experience but I also couldn’t wait to apply the skills I’d learnt in a studio.
Coming back to Ireland I had a short break during December in which I reviewed and and took stock of everything I’d developed as part of my skill set whilst in London. During January i went to work for SlackPress and have been enjoying working in a wide variety of areas. I have created stills for use in presentations and corporate meetings, I have built 3D logos and animated them for short stings to use at the end of videos, drawn storyboards, concept art and animated informative videos and done several pieces of hand drawn animation. All in all I have applied the skills I learnt and honed ones I already had as well as picked up new ones. 2D animation is very new to me and I really value it as a skill now.
Working for SlackPress I’ve been able to learn about how an independent studio runs itself and what makes you successful in your field. Most of what I’ve taken away from my time with them is that you can never have too good a reputation and that you always have to be able to add new skills to your repertoire whenever possible. The team I’ve been working for has been amazing and very informative when it comes to my own questions about software, film or meeting clients. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve worked on with SlackPress and I value everything I’ve learnt with them these past 4 months.
While I have been working for SlackPress during the day, I joined an evening course to improve another skill I thought may be useful in the future. I took up silversmithing as a way to improve my sense of 3D aesthetics while also looking into contemporary design. Working with the silver really helped me to see a new way of visualising texture and shape when it came to creating something that would work as an aesthetic piece. Doing this course gave me another skill which I believe will make me into a better animator and artist as time goes on. I also really enjoyed using the silversmithing as a way of relaxing and moving away from spending all my time in a digital environment or only concentrating on improving a very focussed area of art and design.
During the last week of my time in Ireland I was commissioned to make several pieces of promotional work for the “You Haven’t Heard of Us Yet Tour” taking place around Northern Ireland. I’ve really enjoyed creating these pieces and look forward to exploring the avenue of freelance work more in the future. For the promotional pieces I did I was asked to design a poster and also edit a promotional video about the tour and the bands taking part in it.
Now I have the opportunity to speak at a university in Durban and talk to other students about animation, and finding work in your field as a student. So far this placement year has been very valuable to my portfolio of work and in improving my skills and employability and I am sure it will continue to give me much beneficial experience as I come to the end of my year.