AWUK members feature in work/life balance article in 3D World

AWUK members feature in work/life balance article in 3D World

Our members spoke about some of the difficulties in trying to find more time and energy for yourself in the latest issue of the magazine.

AWUK Work:Life balance

Clockwise from top left: Abi Cadogan, DNEG, AWUK board member Anna Gregory, Isobel Stenhouse, Sophie Jackson, Netflix.

You may have seen that Animated Women UK board member Georgina Hurcombe recently spoke about her journey founding her own company, LoveLove Films in 3D World magazine – we’re happy to share that we’ve been featured again, this time with a round-table type interview featuring several of our members!

Abi Cadogan (Senior VFX Editor, Dneg), AWUK board member Anna Gregory, Sophie Jackson (VFX Co-ordinator, Netflix), Isobel Stenhouse (freelance Production Manager/Line Producer) all spoke to Jolien Buijis, (Production Co-ordinator, Union) about the challenges they’ve faced in trying to achieve the perfect work/life balance as well as provide some top tips and insights on what’s helped them take back their precious time.

Thanks again to our friends at 3D World for publishing the interview and for kindly providing us with a PDF for our members to read!
AWUK Work:Life balance - 3D World

You can read issue 255 now in all good newsagents!

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Member Profile | Daisy Summerfield | Animator

Member Profile | Daisy Summerfield | Animator

Can you give an overview of your career to date; including what inspired you to go into the field you’re in now?

Obsessed with Wallace and Gromit and all things Disney and Pixar, it was my dream from an early age to bring characters to life. Coming from a predominantly art background, I initially wanted to be a character designer. However, animation enabled me to get more into the “acting” side of things, which was another passion of mine at the time. So living off the saying of that animation is for introvert actors, I studied Animation Production at AUB and went on to start my career in VFX at Framestore Bournemouth as a Matchmove Artist. As a recent graduate, it was a great way to introduce myself to the industry. Working on such big Marvel and Disney projects was a ‘pinch-myself’ moment. After a few years at Framestore, I joined Outpost VFX to fulfil my passion of becoming an Animator, of which I have been for the past two years. 

What achievement are you most proud of?

I would probably say being the Lead Animator for a creature-heavy sequence recently for a high-end TV show. This was an enormous challenge, putting together all my skills to produce high-end creature animation whilst leading a team. I have learnt such an extraordinary amount from the past year and it really gave me some confidence in my own ability as an Animator and as a leader. I’m so proud of the team and the result. I can’t wait to see the sequence when it is released!

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Coffee and the thought of breakfast obviously. When I get to work, I’m always excited to push myself that day. Each day with creature animation there is always a new challenge, so it is a mental workout, but you have to journey out of your comfort zone to progress. I enjoy problem solving, so every day, I always feel like I’m getting ready to battle with my shot and hopefully win! 

What is the biggest barrier for women in your discipline?

Not having strong female role models in senior roles. Animation is considered a less technical discipline and is probably one of the more balanced departments in the industry, but it would be fantastic for more emerging female talent to have senior female artists to aspire to and seek advice from.

What advice would you give to people earlier on in their career?

Critiquing your work against other professional work is really important. Do not get discouraged by not being at that standard yet. Instead be realistic about where you are and what you need to do to get to that next level. At the same time, don’t be too hard on yourself, strive to be better on the next project. Having a great attitude is just as important as your actual artistic ability. Working in animation for VFX we strive for ultra-realism, so reference is always key! I spend a lot of time searching the internet for whatever reference I need, taking that time out before you get started can save you so much time later on!

What would be your dream project to work on?

I really enjoy working in VFX, but I would absolutely love to work on a Pixar or Disney project or short film, anything related to either of them! They set the standard in stylised animation and I would love to be a part of a project that is driven by art and storytelling at such a base level. Animation and character is at the very soul of every project, so the concept of working on the next Up or Inside Out is a complete dream of mine!

Watchmen

Watchmen

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AWUK board member Georgina Hurcombe featured in latest issue of 3D World magazine

AWUK board member Georgina Hurcombe featured in latest issue of 3D World magazine

Georgina spoke to our friends at 3D World about starting up her own studio and the challenges she's encountered as a woman in a male-dominated industry

Our board member Georgina Hurcombe recently discussed her experiences as a woman in the animation industry and starting her own business, LoveLove Films, in the latest issue of 3D World magazine, which you can read here

Georgina provides some eye-opening insights throughout her career, from the hurdles she faced early on in her work, to renovating an old Gospel Hall for her studio to the opportunities that Animated Women UK and the Helen North Achieve programme have provided her! Finally she finishes off with a round-up of some advice for women in the industry. 

Great work Georgina!

We’ll be featuring in 3D World magazine again soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Animated Women UK Host “Managing People” Workshop

Animated Women UK Host “Managing People” Workshop

Animated Women UK Host “Managing People” Workshop

On the 23rd of October 2019, Animated Women UK held their first standalone workshop taken from the Helen North Achieve Programme. It was delivered by Achieve’s Jan Armstrong and Marianne O’Conner.

The evening covered a range of topics and addressed a range of issues facing women as they step up into management roles in the Animation and VFX Industries, including flexing one’s leadership style.  There was also the opportunity to workshop real-life leadership issues facing the attendees.

The Helen North Achieve programme has recently completed its’ third year, which we celebrated with a panel and networking event highlighting what the course has achieved. Modules on the programme include understanding personality types, achieving a better work/life balance and presentation skills.

The Achieve Programme has proven so popular (always attracting 3x the number of applicants than available places) that Animated Women were really keen to hold individual workshops, lifted straight from the Achieve Programme, to allow and more women to develop their skills and grow their careers in the Animation and VFX industries and this year, thanks to funding from ScreenSkills and a great location provided by Escape Studios, they have been able to do just that.

Providing workshops like these reflects our core aims at Animated Women UK.  Research backs uptake provision of targeted and specific training and mentorship for women. A report, conducted by Skillsoft, found that almost all of the 450 women who participated in an international survey reported that a disproportionate number of leadership roles were currently being held by male employees. Alongside this, Catalyst found that men received more institutional support and highly relevant guidance than their female counterparts. By not receiving the same targeted and specific mentorship as their male colleagues, women are being held back.

Feedback for the workshop has been great – read some thoughts from the women who attended below:

I thought the 'Managing People' course was full of insightful, useful and clear information and advice, expertly delivered by Marianne and Jan. I loved how interactive the class was too, and how much information was shared between the attendees as well as from the course leaders. – Niki K.

Personally, I really appreciated the opportunity to share a leadership challenge I’m currently facing with peers from across the industry. They gave me some great advice, and that and the rest of the content from Jan and Marianne have left me feeling re-energised and newly motivated to do what I can to improve the situation, as well as giving me several new options to try. – Lucy W.

A second workshop from the Helen North programme will be delivered by Marianne and Jan in November 2019, this time based around pitching and presenting.

ScreenSkills

ScreenSkills is the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen-based creative industries - animation, film, games, television including children's TV and high-end drama, VFX and immersive technology. We work across the whole of the country to ensure that UK screen has access now, and in the future, to the skills and talent needed for continued success.

Escape Studios

From VFX to Game Art, Animation to Motion Graphics, Escape Studios is recognised as a first-class education provider for the creative industries.

We take students with raw talent and shape them into the creative professionals demanded by today’s employers. With courses developed by industry experts, at Escape Studios you learn from the best.

We offer undergraduate degrees in VFX, Animation and Game Art. Plus a range of postgraduate degrees and short courses such as Motion Graphics, Storyboarding and VR. We don’t just love the creative industries, we live and breathe them; our focus is on ensuring all of our students leave studio-ready.

pearsoncollegelondon.ac.uk/escape

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Excelling with Keyframes for Success Panel

Excelling with Keyframes for Success Panel

BFX were kind enough to host us again for a panel at their Festival in Bournemouth in early October!

For those that don’t know, BFX is the UK’s largest visual effects and animation festival with a range of talks from global studios including ILM, Dneg, Pixar, Sony Picture Imageworks and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Our panellists for the session were Lucy Cooper, MD of Union and director of AWUK and ACCESS: VFX; Lucy Wisada, Assistant TD at Framestore; JoAnne Salmon, 2D Animator and Illustrator at LoveLove Films; Shannon Reeve, Production Co-ordinator at LoveLove Films and Natalie McKay, Talent Co-ordinator at Aardman Animations.

With such a variety of roles on the panel, there were plenty of thought-provoking insights. From challenges to career advice to taking advantage of opportunities and imposter syndrome, the ladies explored it all.

In terms of advice for newbies to the industry, Lucy Cooper noted that there “is value in being a runner and doing it well”, as you end up knowing everyone in the studio and if you are professional and good at the job, you will be remembered by all levels of staff.

Another important tidbit for those wanting to progress was to understand your value and prepare evidence for the next position before jumping into a meeting with your line manager!

Most importantly though, if something doesn’t go according to plan in your job applications, or in your career progression – it’s imperative to give yourself some breathing space and to cut yourself some slack.

We asked some of the panellists what they took away from the panel, and they were kind enough to give us some more fascinating morsels of advice!

Lucy Wisada said: “My advice for anyone wanting to enter or who are new to the industry is to stay inquisitive. Learning doesn't stop after university and if you can show that you are adaptive and motivated to pick up new skills then I think that's invaluable. The industry is so exciting, with new technology being developed constantly, that you'll naturally have
curiosity with what currently exists to push the limits of your creativity.”

Shannon added: “My advice for women just entering the industry would be not to feel disheartened, even if you aren't sure quite what you want to go into yet. When you're first starting out, it's the perfect time to try out a range of different things and find out what clicks for you - I did a master's degree because my first degree didn't quite click for me and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.”

JoAnne also commented: “I appreciated the variety of career paths among the speakers - this serves as a good example and reminder that there is no set path for anybody. You should just find joy in each job opportunity you can get and make the best of any task you are given. You never know where your hidden or unexpected passion might be. It might not be where you first set out to go.”
Lucy Cooper said: “I really enjoyed sharing my story with the audience at BFX. They were really engaged and full of questions on how to navigate the waters towards their dream jobs.

“I think the most valuable advice I was able to offer was to not be too laser focussed on one end point.

“It can feel like the decisions they are making now will be irreversible, but just about everyone I know has had a very windy road to where they are now.

“Being too narrow in your ambitions can make you feel like you’ve failed if you don’t achieve them and also close the door on opportunities that you never knew existed and may turn out to be really up your street.”

Lucy also added some resources that are available:

“Animated Women UK have AWUK-Ed where you can find all sorts of valuable resources as well as a link to join our Facebook group where you can receive advice from established women in the VFX and Animation industries.

“There are also lots of resources at www.accessvfx.org on available apprenticeships, how to find your first role, cv writing and showreel preparation.  They also have a podcast with lots of valuable insight from employees and employers that is well worth a listen.

“You can also get an industry mentor which is an invaluable way to seek support and advice from someone who really knows via Slack.

Thanks again for having us BFX! See you next year!

Written by Carrie Mok

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