Graduate Stories | Isabella Ippolito | Render Wrangler TD at Union VFX

Isabella Ippolito

The course you graduated from: BSc Creative Digital Media

Year graduated: 2018

Current job role: Render Wrangler TD/ Union Visual Effects

What did you want to be when you were little?

Where I grow up it's a different environment than the UK, you have very few choices for university (you can find only the most common subjects such as Law or Medicine but nothing creative). Creative skills were not seen as a career path so I was unaware that it could have been a possibility. Because I liked biology I always thought I would have persuaded something related to medicine. But I think I was forced to make a decision based on what society wanted me to do rather than really think of what I wanted to be.

What made you choose your degree course and university?

After I graduated high school in my country I joined the university there in the biology/medicine field, but it was a disappointment, I could feel that I wasn't doing what I was meant to do, and that, that path wasn't making me happy.

So for the first time, I really stopped and tried to think outside the box. I asked myself what was making me happy in my life and the answer was my hobbies, such as editing videos, movies, tv-series, photography. All things that I was doing in my spare time but never thought that they could become a profession.

In order to achieve that I did a lot of research and found out the other countries such as the UK had such an amazing variety of degrees available and I made it happen.

In specific I choose the BSc in Creative Digital Media at the University of Greenwich because at that time I was looking for something general that gave me an idea of what was out there and where I could learn a different set of skills. And I thought this course would be perfect for it and I am glad that I choose it because it gave me an overview of the creative professional world, gave me new skills and improved my previous ones. And I discovered that I like the technical side of things as well as the creative side.

What were the positive / challenging aspects of studying your subject area?

The whole experience was a positive challenge because I was living in a new country doing a degree in a language different than my native one, it made me discover who I really was and how much I could achieve with commitment and following my passions.

Many aspects of the educational tools and structure of the course were new to me, I wasn't expecting such a supportive staff that pushed me on doing my best, I was very glad that I had a personal tutor and that my teachers were always available, it was a challenge for me because I wasn't used to opening up but I found out that sharing my thoughts and doubts with them was helping me in giving better results.

The autocritique of your personal work was also a new challenge I dealt with but it was good because it gave me new perspectives. Also, public presentations of your work in front of the class were a nightmare at first but at the end of the third year, I was confident of talking about my work, which really helped with the final dissertation.

So small challenges helped me to build my confidence and skills.

 What has life been like post graduation?

Life post-graduation has been also a challenge, I wouldn't lie about it, I think it's not really life without it.

As soon as I graduated I was eager to just be out there - so I decided to take a break from the routine and I joined a remote internship based in Bali that gave me the opportunity to work remotely as a video editor and motion designer for a UK based company. It was a great experience because I learned about different ways of living and working, long before working remotely was the new normal,  and finally had the opportunity to be a video editor, something that all these years back I was only dreaming of. After a few months - I kept working with the same company and travel with them in different places mostly in the US.

I loved that I could travel and work at the same time but being a freelance in that field wasn't all good, because things were unpredictable and there was no stability and most of all I wasn't surrounded by an environment with people that valued me and shared my same passions and where I could learn from.

Working in the VFX field was my main goal and my secret dream, however, I couldn't make it happen no matter how many applications or tools I was self-learning and I gave up on that dream for a while.

But after more than one year doing freelance video editing, I decided I couldn't keep going knowing that my real dream was another, and I wanted to show all the people that didn't believe that I could do it, that I could.

So I come back to London, I put all my efforts and completely dedicated my energy to finding a job that I loved in the VFX industry, I joined the NextGenFutures Bootcamp and I kept studying,  and finally, after a few more months I was lucky enough to be selected by UnionVFX where I'm still currently working. Here I'm finally surrounded by creative and passionate people that support me and that give me the opportunity to show my values and to improve my skills.

 What advice would you give to a young creative who is interested in studying a similar subject?

I would recommend a course that gives a general knowledge of skills because you can learn what you like the most,  and then it's up to you to study it in-depth, and you may find yourself that you could enjoy different things that you didn't expect, so don't be close-minded in one thing only.

For example, when I first choose my course I didn't expect to learn technical things like coding because I thought it wasn't related to creativity, but it opened up my mind and even if I am not using the same coding language, I'm now interested in Technical Artist roles and in my current job role I am a Technical Director.

This kind of course also prepares you for different challenges that you may encounter after graduation.

I found myself many times using things that I learned at university that at that time I didn't think were useful but they helped through many unexpected projects and people were impressed that I had a different range of skills.

Do you have any tips for graduating students studying a similar subject?

Be confident and believe in what you think is best for you, even if others don't see it in the same way if that is your passion keep trying because one day you'll get there, even if it seems impossible now.

If you like both creative and technical skills don't let people tell you that the two worlds are separated.

I believe that it's no true because everything in the animation/VFX field is a creative process and you can merge the two worlds and create outstanding results.

Also, I would suggest already to start networking and go to events such as festivals and talks (all things that I did when I was still studying and that I found useful) and keep being involved after graduation. For example, I was lucky to be part of the AWUK Achieve Programme, it was a great experience that I would recommend to anyone because it exposes you to important topics and helps you to overcome difficult situations.

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