Mentoring

AWUK/CAVE Academy Collaborate to Enhance Student’s Knowledge and Skills

AWUK/CAVE Academy Collaborate to Enhance Student’s Knowledge and Skills

“I believe that this is one of the best simulations of a real daily that I have ever seen”. High praise from Erica Vigilante, CG Supervisor at DNEG and AWUK Member, who was a guest reviewer at the recent Cave Academy Dailies.

The CAVE Academy Dailies programme is hosted by Jahirul Anim, Computer Animation and VFX Trainer and Consultant at CAVE. The programme or ‘Dailies’, as it’s referred to, is a free collaborative feedback programme which takes place online every Thursday evening between 6 PM-8 PM and replicates industry style dailies by bringing together students and professionals, such as Heads of Department and CG Supervisors, who analyse ‘daily’ submissions from trainees and provide important feedback to truly enhance students projects, knowledge and skills.

Using Zoom with screen-sharing and SyncSketch to do draw overs and annotations, the guest reviewers critique and give notes on between 5-10 submissions from trainees and students. Jahirul explains “ …we are here to educate and to help push the work and skills of students and professionals through discussion, drawovers and experience, just like in a real-world daily”.

AWUK member Erica Vigilante, gave her professional feedback on student submissions and, went on to say…”Being in dailies is always emotional because you see and contribute to a project evolution, but with CAVE dailies it is also a dream evolution, the students experience real growth that will lead them to their dream job, and that is a real fulfilment. For this reason, I consider it a special session and I think that what is proposed by the CAVE Academy is not common, the students of today will be the artists of tomorrow, and this experience will make them stand out from the crowd. I believe that this is one of the best simulations of a real daily that I have ever seen. Really proud to have the opportunity to be part of it and I hope to have the chance to see the students grow in the future”

Other Dailies guest reviewers have included AWUK members Sheila Wickens, VFX Supervisor, MPC Episodic and Binal Shah, Lead Animator, ILM (London) who attended sessions earlier this year. The intention is for AWUK members to collaborate with CAVE Academy Dailies well into the future with the next session coming up after the summer break in September with Kate Vaisey, VFX Producer, Netflix providing the feedback.

Watch this space for further announcements or check out the Dailies page here: CAVE Dailies.

Posted by Lucy Cooper, 0 comments
Member Profile | Debra Coleman

Member Profile | Debra Coleman

This month we caught up with Debra Coleman who recently left DNEG after 16 years to set up Open Frame Coaching.  We find out how Debra got into the industry and what has led her to pursue this new adventure.

How did you get into VFX/Compositing?
Whilst at University, studying English Literature and Media Studies, I particularly enjoyed the practical photography and video modules, which was when it first occurred to me that a job behind the camera or in post-production might actually be a possibility – and an exciting one! After graduating, I moved to London and applied for every job in tv/video/film/post that I saw advertised.  Finally, after what felt like an eternity, but was actually about 7 months – was offered a job as a Runner at Cinesite.

It was at Cinesite that I really got an education in visual effects.  As a runner, I got to know everyone at the studio and found that most people were happy to talk about what they did, which provided an invaluable overview. I moved in into Video-to-Film transfers and then realised I had an interest in compositing, so started also doing some basic prep and roto work before joining the comp team. One of my first projects as a comper was Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – I think that’s when I truly realised the level of detail I needed to work at!

After 7 years at Cinesite, I felt the pull of working overseas and spent a very happy year and a half in California, at Tippett Studio. On my return to London, I joined Double Negative, which was small at that time and had a similar ‘family’ feel to Tippett and Cinesite. Not long after joining, I fell pregnant, which then led to me returning to work part-time – unheard of at that time! Ultimately, I remained at DNEG for 16 years, progressing into comp management roles as the company grew.

What do you like about it?
I’ve always enjoyed the blend of technical skills and creativity and using this to aid the story-telling process.  Following a project from concept, all the way through to final delivery showed me that anything is possible – sometimes to our detriment if the client is indecisive! I also just love the people involved as, in my experience, VFX artists, production and support teams share a passion and are collaborative, smart, creative people which I find inspiring and energising.

How did you transition to being a coach and how does it tie into VFX?
At the end of 2020, I left my position as Global Head of Compositing at DNEG to set up my coaching consultancy, Open Frame Coaching, providing coaching for VFX professionals and companies.  I realise this sounds like quite a departure, but actually, VFX and coaching have been intertwined for me for a number of years.

I think the seed was planted for me when I attended leadership training by Career Savvy (funded by DNEG).  I was also fortunate enough to also be coached by Jan Armstrong. This course opened my eyes to effective leadership and the power of coaching within an organisation.

Following many years of adopting an informal coaching approach as a manager, I decided to invest in a specific coaching course which I completed during our first lockdown of 2020. Since then, I have been building my coaching experience and ultimately decided to pour all my energy into this newfound passion. With my background in VFX, I’m finding that my clients choose to work with me as “I get it” which provides a handy shortcut during our sessions.

I also really, truly believe that all VFX companies could benefit from adopting more of a coaching culture to support and elevate everyone within their teams.

You took part in the inaugural Achieve programme. What did you learn from this?
I was delighted to be accepted on AWUK’s first Achieve programme, headed up by the wonderful Helen North. I thoroughly enjoyed every workshop, both getting to know the other ‘Senior’ women (what a way to be referred to!) and hearing the passion, potential and frustration of the junior and mid-level women. My main takeaway from this is how important it is for women to support each other at all stages of their careers: as women, we do face barriers and are better equipped to overcome these when we can reach out to each other for support.

Animated Women UK Achieve Programme Class of 2017

Animated Women UK Achieve Programme Class of 2017

What have you gained from being part of Animated Women UK?
Until attending my first AWUK event (with what felt like hundreds of us crammed into the upstairs room of a pub), I had never felt any need to call attention to the fact I was a woman in a male-dominated industry, however, Louise Hussey’s speech really struck a chord and made me stop and think about the lack of equality and opportunity for women in our industry and how wrong this is! It was also refreshing socially (being with women) and I came away motivated to ‘do something’.

Since then, I have overcome my nerves and sat on panels when asked as I understand the importance of representation and I ended up chairing the women’s group at DNEG, pushing for better representation and inclusion of women at the company.

Since that first event, I have continued to enjoy each AWUK event I’ve been to, finding it refreshing to meet other talented women from throughout Animation and VFX and finding inspiration in the speeches/panels put on.  For example, Sue Lister’s openness and honesty at the most recent zoom event was really powerful.

Why do you feel it’s important to support women and junior talent in the industry?
I guess I’ve already touched upon this, as it’s interwoven with my career experience.  I’m an advocate for flexible working for mums and carers; I understand the importance of representation; I would encourage everyone to either offer to mentor or seek a mentor (or both!).

Things are improving in terms of the number of women taking VFX/Animation courses and being offered junior roles, however, I strongly feel there is still a lot to be done to ensure women are able to progress within the industry at the same rate as their male colleagues. I believe that coaching for anyone moving into a new role of responsibility can hugely grow their confidence (and therefore ability), so would recommend this for companies looking to support their women. I am also keen to see women better supported on their return to work from maternity leave and offer coaching throughout this period too.  By truly supporting and retaining women at this stage in their career, it will ultimately help to improve representation in senior roles as well as contributing to reducing the gender pay gap over time.

Debra Coleman

Debra Coleman | www.openframecoaching.com

What have you learned during lockdown?
Oh, good question! I’ve certainly learnt all of the walking and running routes on my doorstep! And that marking the end of another day of working from home is essential for my mental health – I find jumping up and dancing to a good playlist, even for 15 mins, really helps with this!

Seriously though, as a mother of two teenagers, I have had an up-close-and-personal look at how lockdown has impacted our mental well-being – and it’s different, but noticeable, for each of us. Also, in my roles as Head of Compositing and as a professional coach, I’m noticing common themes of people feeling isolated and I think this is particularly problematic for those who are living alone, perhaps a long way from family. Whilst at DNEG, I ran a group coaching programme to help connectivity and well-being for those who were feeling isolated; I also set-up a monthly, zoom coffee morning for women only, both of which really helped.

Personally, I’ve also been reminded of the importance of reaching out to my friends and family – I may miss hugging them, but a phone chat still provides important support and connection at a time when we are probably all feeling quite alone.

http://www.openframecoaching.com/

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Achieve Programme, Homepage, Mentoring, Profiles, 0 comments
Animated Women UK launches Mentorship Programme

Animated Women UK launches Mentorship Programme

AWUK reveals a new mentorship programme for its members in the VFX and animation industries, pairing seasoned professionals with emerging female talent. 

Animated Women UK is pleased to announce a mentorship programme in partnership with Disney UK & Ireland for its members. 

This mentorship programme will focus on fostering connection and engagement with female veterans of the VFX and Animation industries, pairing them with the next generation of female talent.  

AWUK members who are interested in participating in the mentorship programme will be asked to fill out a questionnaire describing their industry experience. 

Powered through the Prospela professional network website, mentors will be paired with a mentee seeking advice and support.  

Through the use of a chat channel on the Prospela website, mentors and mentees will be able to exchange communication when it suits them best and in their own time.  

We have a great team of Mentors engaged and ready to start a meaningful mentorship with keen mentees.  Could this be you?  We hope so!

Louise Hussey, Co-Chair, VFX, Animated Women UK, commented: “AWUK is very excited to be offering a mentor scheme, and have been able to do so by Disney’s sponsorship. We love the way that this scheme, hosted by Prospela, and pioneered by Access VFX works. It enables communication through a digital platform that allows for Mentors to be able to respond as and when their schedules allow.  In these times, support and help are welcomed by us all, so please do sign up!”

For more information, or to apply, visit http://www.animatedwomenuk.com/mentoring/.

Annual membership of Animated Women UK costs just £30.

http://www.animatedwomenuk.com/membership/

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Homepage, Mentoring, News, 0 comments
Mentoring | All your questions answered

Mentoring | All your questions answered

We’ve had lots of questions about becoming an AWUK mentor, so have pulled them together in one blog post.  If you still have questions, please leave a comment on this blog or email mentoring@animatedwomenuk.com and we’ll add them in.

  • Q: Is mentoring going to be time-intensive? 
  • A: Mentoring can be set up to work around you and your schedule. We understand that a lot of our mentors are very busy people, so our SLACK-based mentoring is designed to allow you and your mentor to stay in touch in a way that suits both of you.
  • Q: Who will be the point of contact if a mentee goes AWOL? 
  • A: Dexter or Emma at Prospela can be contacted within SLACK and will reach out directly to check in.
  • Q: Do I always have to maintain the same level of commitment?
  • A: Your relationship with your mentee is unique. You can agree on a level of commitment and communication with your mentee that works for both of you and review it over time.
  • Q: Am I senior enough to mentor? 
  • A: If you are already working in either VFX or Animation and have been for more than 2 years you are definitely in a position to add value to a mentee.  Many of our mentees will just be starting out on their journey and sharing yours will be incredibly valuable.  We will do our best to match mentors and mentees appropriately.
  • Q: I’m not in a creative role – does that matter?
  • A: Absolutely not. Our industries comprise many roles from facilities,  management and accounting to production, technology and more.  We expect mentees who are looking at all kinds of roles and would like the same variety in our mentors. If you’re paired with someone from a creative discipline and you are not from that background, you can provide a lot of help and support both yourself and through your network.
  • Q: How should I be communicating with my mentee? 
  • A: Our programme is designed for you to interact with your mentee over SLACK with the support of the team at Prospela. We’d encourage you to keep your communication on there, but over time (if your mentee is over 18) you might look to connect with them on LinkedIn and perhaps interact over different platforms on occasion. Keeping your communication here enables us to track the success of our programme which is critical to its ongoing support by our sponsor.
  • Q: What should I do if I don’t know the answer to a mentee’s question? 
  • A: The same as you would if you had a question in your day to day life. Ask your friends, colleagues and network to help you.  You have access to a wealth of resources that your mentee doesn’t. 
  • Q: How often should I be speaking to my mentee? 
  • A: This up to you and your mentee. You should discuss this with them so that the plan is clear. In general, we find that communication is more regular when you are first establishing a relationship and can then become slightly less frequent.  It’s important to invest time upfront getting to know each other, building trust and understanding what everyone is hoping to get from the relationship.
  • Q: Why should I be a mentor? 
  • A: There are many great reasons to become a mentor including:
    • An opportunity to develop communication, leadership, coaching and mentoring skills
    • A feeling of ‘giving back’ to the industry
    • It is good for your CV, shows you care about the future of your industry and its composition
    • It encourages you to reflect on your own skills and achievements
    • It’s an opportunity to use your creativity and learn from the ideas and experiences of someone who could be from a different generation, background or have different interests, life experiences or expectations, stage of career, sector etc.
  • Q: What do you look for in a mentor?
  • A: An ideal mentor can help a mentee make the most of career opportunities and support their personal development and self-confidence. They will encourage and support the mentee to achieve their goals.  Mentors actively listen and provide advice to their mentees to help them overcome challenges and get to where they want to be.  Good mentors also provide advice through learned experience.

What are you waiting for? Sign up as an AWUK mentor through Prospela here.

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Homepage, Mentoring, News, 0 comments
Achieve Online 2020

Achieve Online 2020

‘Achieve Online’ at our workshops this June.

We’re delighted to announce that we’ll be running four online workshops this June exclusively for AWUK members, thanks to the support of ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund, with contributions from UK animations productions. The tutors of our oversubscribed Helen North Achieve Programme have adapted two of the programme’s most popular sessions for online delivery via Zoom. These are ‘Confidence and Getting your Voice Heard’ and ‘Impact and Building the Brand You’. Jan Armstrong and Marianne O’Connor have also developed two new workshops, one of which is devoted to ‘Thriving as a Freelance’. The other – ‘Managing Your Virtual Communication’ – focuses on an aspect of our jobs that is particularly relevant right now when so many of us are working from home.

The Helen North Achieve Programme 2019 alumni

The last few months have undoubtedly been challenging. Working on your laptop can often literally mean working on your lap while juggling homeschooling and other caring responsibilities. When the threat posed by the virus recedes and lockdown eventually ends, some remote working may however become the new normal if employers have found it to be productive and staff are keen to continue working this way. 

One of the perceived drawbacks to homeworking is its potential to damage career prospects. It's long been a concern for many women taking maternity leave and/or going part-time that being out of sight means being out of mind for promotion and interesting work projects. That concern also applies to homeworking. 

The workshop on 2 June will help participants develop practical strategies for building virtual relationships. This is key in an industry where relationship building is central to success (79% of women surveyed working in the animation sector said they got their job through networking). 

The session will include guidance on getting the most from a virtual team meeting, motivating yourself and others when working remotely and communicating creatively and assertively online. Members will also gain individual tips and techniques to hone their online skills in a Coaching Clinic. 

Our workshop’s focus will be on helping to ensure that participants’ careers thrive in an increasingly virtual environment where some staff will be working out of the office all or part of the time. This session is relevant even for entirely office-based staff, as many people are likely to be communicating with team members and clients who are physically elsewhere. 

These four highly interactive online workshops will use virtual break-out spaces to allow participants to workshop ideas and receive feedback in small, supportive groups. They’ll also include a ‘surgery’ where members can discuss difficult work challenges. 

Open to AWUK members at all levels of experience, the workshops are just £25, thanks to the support of ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund.  Because they’re stand-alone, members can apply for those that are relevant to them, whether that’s one or all of them! Each lasts one and a half hours, so can be fitted in around work and other commitments.  

We’re excited to be going online for the first time ever and our workshop leaders Jan and Marianne look forward to welcoming registrants this June.

Click here to find out more information and apply for tickets.

Stay safe and keep well. 

By Louise Hussey, Co-Chair, VFX, Animated Women UK 

Read what our alumni say about The Helen North Achieve Programme below.

Chloé Deneuve
Anne Akande

These workshops are supported by ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund with contributions from UK animation productions.

About ScreenSkills

ScreenSkills is the industry-led skills body for the UK’s screen-based creative industries - animation, film, games, television including children’s and high-end, VFX and immersive technology. They work across the whole of the country to build an inclusive workforce with the skills needed for continued success, now and in the future. 

https://www.screenskills.com

 

Posted by Peri Friend in Achieve Programme, Events, Homepage, Mentoring, 0 comments