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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!

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Homepage, News, 0 comments
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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International Women’s Day Panel 2019 | #balanceforbetter

International Women’s Day Panel 2019 | #balanceforbetter

The campaign theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter putting the spotlight directly on the question, ‘how can we help forge a more gender-balanced world?’

In response, Animated Women UK, in collaboration with ACCESS:VFX and Animation UK, hosted a panel of representative speakers to discuss the key issues of gender imbalance within the Animation and VFX industries.

The sold out event took place at The Mill with over 100 people in attendance, including professionals, early career starters and students. The energetic atmosphere of the audience clearly highlighted the importance of the topic to be addressed.

The Panel

  • Noreen Connolly – MD, Beam
  • Natalie Llewellyn – Head of Development, Jellyfish
  • Tom Box – Co-founder, Blue Zoo
  • Claire Michaud – Lighting Supervisor, Framestore
  • Simon Hughes – Creative Director / VFX Supervisor, Union
  • Ross Urien – Creative Director, The Mill
  • Helen Piercy – AWUK Board Education Advisor / Animation Lecturer at University of Norwich

Chaired by IBC’s Alana Foster, the opening question asked was ‘why is animation & VFX equality and inclusion important?’ The panel agreed that the creative industries need diverse talent in order to generate a range of animation and VFX projects for a wider audience. Ross Urien noted that the creative industry is driven by original ideas, so diversity is vitally important as good ideas don’t come from one place.

Why is the animation sector statistically doing better than VFX in terms of gender balance?

The panel were asked why pursuing a career in animation had a significantly larger draw for women than VFX? Claire Michaud explained that VFX heavy blockbusters have traditionally been targeted at boys with animated content seemingly aimed more towards girls. Tom Box added that the issue could also be about accessibility as we tend to be exposed to animation from a younger age, whereas VFX is more of a hidden art form and much of the effects work is invisible.

Natalie added that the understanding of animation and VFX as viable career options needs much more awareness. This ‘discoverability’ element is key and further work needs to be done to educate children, teachers and parents. Fantastic initiatives, such as ACCESS:VFX and STEAM events are helping to spread awareness in schools of the potential career paths into these industries.

How can we attract and retain women working in the industry?

The panel reflected on the perception that animation is more creative than VFX, therefore more feminine, ergo attracting more women to work in the sector. This view potentially starts with representation and how an interest in working in animation and VFX is generated.

It was agreed that attracting & retaining women into the industry needs better support, beginning at an educational level and throughout career progression. Mentorships are a key factor in career development, as Noreen noted that  at The Mill everyone has a mentor. “t’s really important to develop people”. Taking the initiative and reaching out to someone you admire can also be a good strategy for finding a potential mentor. Networks and industry recognised schemes, such as Animated Women UK’s Helen North Achieve Programme, are also helping to bring women in the creative community together to access advice.

Overall, the panel were very positive on the outlook for a gender balanced industry, however, it is clear that there is more work to be done to improve the current diversity statistics in the animation and vfx industries. Animated Women UK are committed to working towards a #BalanceforBetter future, continuing our mission to support women from all backgrounds of the industry at every stage in their career.

Helen Piercy is AWUK’s Education Advisor.

 

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International Women’s Day 2019 | How can we positively impact gender balance?

International Women’s Day 2019 | How can we positively impact gender balance?

#BalanceforBetter #IWD2019

Animated Women UK | ACCESS:VFX | Animation UK

According to recent diversity statistics from UK Screen and Animation UK the VFX (27% female) and Animation industries (40% female) still have a long way to go to reach gender balance.

The night before International Women’s Day 2019 Animated Women UK, ACCESS:VFX and Animation UK have teamed up to host a panel at The Mill to discuss these statistics and the challenges faced trying to address them with the aim of formulating a plan for change.

Doors will open at 18:00 and the panel chaired by Alana Foster will be held from 6.45 – 8pm.

Our panel is being chaired by Alana Foster from IBC 365

With thanks to The Mill for hosting us.

The Panel:

  • Noreen Connolly – MD of Beam
  • Simon Hughes – Creative Director / VFX Supervisor, Union
  • Natalie Llewellyn – Head of Development, Jellyfish
  • Ross Urien – Creative Director, The Mill
  • Tom Box – Co-founder, Blue Zoo
  • Helen Piercy – AWUK Board Education Advisor / Animation Lecturer at University of Norwich
  • Andrew Brassington – Head of Strategic Projects, Escape Studios
Posted by Lucy Cooper in Events, Homepage, 0 comments
Mental Health First Aid Training | A Member’s Account

Mental Health First Aid Training | A Member’s Account

Chloé Deneuve, a Character Animator at Blue Zoo attended a one-day Mental Health First Aid training course within her company Blue Zoo. Led by Tara Kent from MHFA (Mental Health First Aid England). Here are her impressions and takeaways from the day.

The clinic aimed to provide a number of studio staff with the knowledge of how to recognise the signs of someone struggling with a mental health issue, how to provide initial help and how to guide them towards getting professional help while being mindful of our own wellbeing. As someone who has experienced a real struggle with mental health, I’d like to highlight the importance of this training day and urge all companies to offer this training to their staff.

Despite reportedly affecting one in four people in the UK, mental health is not often talked about in the workplace. It’s common practice for most companies to offer First Aid training, yet surprisingly few offer Mental Health First Aid training. In fact, failing to recognise the mental health of employees is very shortsighted of companies. Aside from the ethical benefits of having a happy workforce, on an economic level doing so also benefits a business –  if employees are happy, production and quality go up. For peak performance in the workplace, we need a certain amount of pressure: too little and we’re bored, too much and we become stressed, less productive, and in some cases, can become mentally unwell. Let’s remember that a workplace is nothing without the force of its people and for a company to succeed, the wellbeing of its staff is absolutely essential.

Working in a creative industry can be a high pressured environment – as our work is visual, the criticism can be high. When the visuals in a show or film are deemed good, as artists we rarely get praised by the audience, yet when the visuals are esteemed to be poor, we get all of the backlash. Little does the audience know what can happen behind the studio doors. Our producers have a budget to stick to, we all have deadlines and things constantly need to be fixed. The client might change their mind about the direction of a certain shot or sequence and request changes without extending deadlines. By recognising signs that could indicate mental health issues, employers can help to address issues before they escalate, or in more severe cases, help staff get the help that they may need.  The job of a Mental Health First Aid Champion is to know how to help create an environment where everyone feels as though they are in a safe space and listened to.

This may sound obvious, but in reality, listening – really listening, is much tougher than it seems because while someone is talking, a lot of the time all we want to do is give our own opinion on the matter, which means we’re not really registering what the other person is saying. You cannot compare what you have been through with what someone else is going through, because everyone feels things differently and we need to understand that. The MHFA course teaches that when someone in front of us is expressing their struggles, we need to leave our own judgment at the door. It’s okay to not have the answer or solution to their issue, the important thing is to let them know that you are there with them – that human connection can make a huge difference.

We also need to remember that vulnerability is not a weakness, it is in fact very courageous. In a world where expectations are high and image is key, we’re expected to show mental strength and resilience, to know exactly who we are and where we want to be in 5 years time. It’s okay to not know these things, and it’s okay to ask for help and support from the people around us. I really believe that a problem shared, is a problem halved. Equally, it is important to remember that you can only help people when you yourself are in a good place. Self-compassion is key, we are all our own worst enemies. I know that I wouldn’t talk to anyone the way I talk to myself sometimes, but I now recognise it, and I talk to myself how I would talk to a friend or colleague in need.

My hope is that more companies offer Mental Health First Aid training, but on a more individual level, I would like everyone to notice the people that they work with, ask them how they are doing and to start to create that safe space in their offices and home lives. I know from my own experience, that someone doing so, can make a huge difference.

If you’d like to find out more about MHFA training along with the different types of courses you can offer your company, visit their website: https://mhfaengland.org/

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Events, Homepage, 0 comments