11 June 2021
Four talented trainees recently walked through our Sydney Studio doors as part of the Screen NSW Animation and VFX Trainee Placement Pilot Program.
The initiative was designed to give these young creatives experience working in a professional studio that will prepare them for the next steps in their careers. From hundreds of applications, the final recipients were Lauren Bartie, Robbie Beresford, Vella Tudor-Brown, and Nina Rokhatova, who will call the Animal labyrinth their new homes away from home for the 6-month traineeship.
For many of the trainees, this is their first foray into a professional studio and the film industry itself, however, they all bring a unique set of skills and their own fresh perspective to their new roles. We caught up with them for a little Q & A – let’s see how they’re fitting in and see if you can guess who is a dedicated fan of Ghibli, Spiderman, Shrek and Lord of The Rings!
Tell us a bit about your role and the department you work with.
Lauren– I’m working in the Rigging Department – so I’m currently learning how to put rigs together using Animal’s unique rigging toolset and building process, which has been pretty in-depth but great fun to learn. I’ve also been developing my programming skills (mainly in Python) as coding plays a large role in the rigging department.
Nina – I am a software developer in R&D. Still figuring out what the department does in general :), but my team works on a bunch of internal tools that help all the teams involved in the production of a movie.
Robbie – I work in the Rigging Department. My current role is to learn and get my head around the advanced rigging system they have here . The rigging system at Animal Logic is very complex and it does take a while to understand the basics of what is going on.
Vella – I am working in the Modeling Department and it’s been great. I have been given all sorts of things to do from small assets to building exteriors and interiors for an upcoming show. I’m always asking questions; being in a department I love with amazing people has allowed me to increase my knowledge in modeling.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the industry?
Robbie – When I was young, I was into stop motion Lego animation. This sparked my journey in learning the arts of Animation. Growing up, I really liked the technical aspects to things. From knowing how remote-control cars worked to making my own woodworks. I liked taking things apart and building them back up again just to understand how they functioned. When I started at TAFE, it was easy to see the creative and the technical side come together in rigging.
Nina– I previously worked in a completely different industry and most of the projects I worked on solved important problems for our customers. However, people rarely got excited about a new fuel reimbursement system or improved parallelisation of a workflow. With the movie industry the situation is opposite, there are so many people that are passionate about movies. I wanted to learn more about the systems that stitch together many activities that are needed to get a movie on the screen.
Vella – Everything! I love everything about it, when I first touched blender, I made the dodgiest mug but I loved it. The process of modeling something I had only imagined was amazing. I was hooked. My high-school teacher loved 3D and took us to see Lego Batman in the cinemas, he couldn’t stop talking about Animal Logic and how amazing it would be to work in the there. My dad always said to do something you love so here I am doing what I love.
Lauren– As someone who is very passionate about film and games, entering the CG industry has always been something I’ve wanted to do. When I first encountered rigging during my undergraduate studies at UNSW, I found that I really loved it and decided that I wanted to continue pursuing it as a career path.
In the few months you’ve been at Animal Logic, what has been the biggest challenge in your role? What do you enjoy the most about your role?
Vella – The biggest challenge I have faced has probably been the time constraints, with so many assets due within a small time frame at the same time, it can get overwhelming, but because of this experience I have learnt how to make my workflow faster and how to better manage my time. Learning the new pipeline tools has also been a challenge but learning on the job with talented modelers who always give me feedback has made the process very enjoyable.
Lauren– I think the biggest challenge for me has been getting used to full-time work hours. I’ve never worked full-time before so that transition was initially pretty difficult for me to get used to.
I’ve definitely been enjoying the amount I’ve been learning during my time at Animal. I feel like I already know so much more about rigging and the pipeline process than I did when I started, and I’m excited to continue learning and developing my skills. I’m also really enjoying getting to know everyone in the rigging team – it’s such an awesome group of people and they’ve been really great to spend time with!
Nina – The biggest challenge of the role was the technology stack, most of the components of it were written within AL so I could not use my previous knowledge as-is. So far, I see a lot of freedom in finding the things to work on.
Robbie – The biggest challenge that I have faced since starting at AL has been scripting my own tools. I had always wanted to learn python but never knew where to start. It has been very beneficial to have started learning here at AL as I have so much support.
How has it been working in a professional studio? Is it what you expected?
Robbie – My time at TAFE and Uni has somewhat prepared me for what to expect. But I had no idea what the company culture would be like, and I was happily surprised by how supportive and friendly everyone here is. Whether in rounds or asking for help, everyone is here to support and assist me in any way. Also, I love Animal’s variety of snacks provided every day.
Vella – I couldn’t have anticipated what it would be like to work in such an amazing studio, I knew how to use the programs and I knew I would be modeling but I didn’t know what it would be like to be around all these talented people all working hard on amazing projects.
Lauren– It’s been great so far! I’m really enjoying everything about it. It’s amazing how willing everyone in the rigging department has been to take the time to help me out when I need it – which I really appreciate.
Nina – I didn’t expect so many studio legends! As a software developer I expected to see a regular office space with a selection of caffeinated drinks. I was impressed how closely we worked with the artists and tech directors.
What film can you watch over and over and never get tired of?
Nina – All parts of Shrek, somehow, I keep noticing new details every time I watch it.
Vella – That’s such a hard question but I always come back to Howls Moving Castle by Studio Ghibli every time. It just has everything you could ever want. It was my favourite movie as a young girl and every month I will revisit the magical and beautiful world full of character and colour.
Lauren – I don’t think I ever get tired of watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy – it’s just so good, even 20 years down the line.
Robbie – I could watch Spiderman over and over again till the end of time.