Support for Students during COVID-19

Support for Students during COVID-19

As a result of COVID-19 many students, who were looking forward to finishing their studies and celebrating graduation this year, are now faced with an uncertain future resulting from university closures. Although academic institutions are now adapting to support their students through distance learning and online feedback, the reality is many individuals have lost access to vital facilities needed to complete their work. This in turn has created a sense of unease regarding how the soon-to-be VFX and Animation graduates will find opportunities in the creative industries.

The positive news is that recruitment is continuing with many companies still on the lookout for new talent. As the industry adapts to new ways of working remotely, so in turn must students. Luckily, a large number of organisations, companies and individuals have stepped up to provide free access to online events, tutorials and free software to help students in need. AWUK Education has compiled a list of these resources, plus other tips, and will continue to seek more ways of supporting this year’s graduates during this challenging time.

Working From Home

Working from home sounds like a brilliant setup, however it can also come with difficulties such as de-motivation and home-life distractions. This article from Times Higher Education outlines a number of useful tips, including co-ordinating group chats using Skype or Zoom and organising a functional work space.

AVFX Podcast

Career Advice

ACCESS:VFX is a non-profit industry led organisation that aims to promote diversity and inclusion within VFX and Animation. Check out the ACCESS:VFX website for information on careers and employment, plus the opportunity to sign up for Pro Online Mentor for feedback on your work. Give the podcast a listen for professional industry advice, such this recent episode on wellbeing and mental health.

Online Tutorials

This is the perfect time to delve into the world of online tutorials. Now more than ever, professional creatives (such as Aaron Blaise) are actively sharing their processes and techniques for the benefit of others. Explore platforms such as SkillShare, Skwigly and YouTube for inspiration and get adding new skills to your CV.

Screen Skills Online Events

ScreenSkills have launched a free package of remote training, workshops and talks led by industry professionals. The events tend to sell out very quickly, we recommend following Screen Skills social media to be the first to find out when the next events are scheduled.

Attend a Virtual Festival

Sadly many animation and VFX festivals have been forced to postpone events this year, however the good news is that many have chosen to stream films online. Keep a look for upcoming events, such as Cardiff Animation Nights and SXSW, and enjoy a virtual festival from the comfort of your sofa. Other fantastic sites to watch films and inspirational talks include The National Film Board of Canada, She Drew That and It’s Nice That.

Discover Free Software

VFX artist, Jonas Almeida, has put together this very handy Google Doc listing over 200 free software available for the creative industry. Magnum entertainment have also created an updating list for every free event technology training class, tutorial and workshop currently available.

AWUK Ed Resources

We have a fantastic list of inspirational books, websites and podcasts to keep you busy. Join our closed facebook community and get networking with other students, graduates and academics.

Seek Support From Your University

Finally, if you are struggling with any aspect of academic work or mental health issues, many universities now have a dedicated support service to help students navigate their learning. If you are concerned about anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your institution for advice. You can also contact the AWUK education team  education@animatedwomenuk.com

By Helen Piercy, AWUK Education Advisor

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Education, News, 0 comments
British Animation Awards 2020

British Animation Awards 2020

London Southbank, 12 March 2020: the British Animation Awards draws the best of the industry from across these isles for its biennial event and this year was no different. We still only had relatively small numbers of COVID-19 in the UK and self-isolation and social-distancing had not yet changed the way everyone lived their lives, so those who spend a lot of time in dark rooms anyway did not seem perturbed – this was their night to shine. Following the advice to refrain from the usual hugs, kisses and handshakes, the creative types got creative with different ways to greet one another – for some this may have been the last human contact they’d have for a good while!

The award ceremony itself was swift, no hanging about under the new leadership of Helen Brunsdon, who put on an incredible show, despite what must have been one of the craziest weeks of her life. Not being able to shake the hands of the winners collecting their awards, made the host Miles Jupp look even more awkward than usual, which just added to the comedy.

The crowd was diverse from a gender perspective, but it is still a privileged white crowd on the whole – we still have a way to go there. Those collecting awards, maybe because they’re quicker to jump up, were predominantly male, and if you look through the nominations, balance is not quite there yet, directors are still a high majority male. This is by no means the fault of the BAAs, but is something we need to address as an industry, when engaging crew, putting shows forward for nomination and as jury members. We do know that more women are studying animation and this was reflected in those represented in the student and emerging talent categories, which showed parity. Most significantly the number of women nominated under the new LAMB category for emerging talent was incredibly encouraging. Stop motion rigger Roxi Linklater won this category. Hers is not only one of those unsung but critical jobs in the animation pipeline, it’s also very much a man’s domain still. We at AWUK would like to congratulate Roxi, what an inspiration to young women in the industry and may there be more like her next time around!

You can take a look at all this year’s winners here.

By Beth Parker, AWUK Animation Chair

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Events, Homepage, 0 comments
5 Things We’ve Accomplished Since Attending The Helen North Achieve Programme

5 Things We’ve Accomplished Since Attending The Helen North Achieve Programme

The Helen North Achieve Programme is back for its fourth year. Applications are now open, so we sat down with five alumni to find out what they’ve accomplished since attending the course.

1) “As a mother returning to work the course helped me look at my options in a really positive way. I stopped worrying about rushing to be exactly the same artist I was before I had my son and made me realise I can take any route I chose and whatever time I need to achieve the goals I have set for myself.”
Anita Corcoran, Animator

2) “I’ve progressed in my job and feel more confidence when navigating the VFX industry.
“I’ve also gained an amazing support network of women in VFX and Animation and learned to stop falling victim to ‘Imposter Syndrome’.
“The wonder women stance has also been a handy tool for a quick confidence boost anytime and anywhere!”
Emma Ihecherenoma, VFX Production Coordinator at Industrial Light & Magic

3) “The course was a great way to meet new people and reflect on my work in animation to date. I got time-out to think, a chance to set some new goals and a big boost to my personal confidence and presentation skills.
“Since the course, I’ve made a lot of changes in the way I run my animation studio, which are really beginning to bear fruit. We’ve pulled in lots of new service studio work, our finances are much improved and our educational animation continues to gather momentum, awards and recognition.
“I have also found a new role for myself as a mentor, helping out other women in my field on the Creative England Industry Equals Women in Screen Programme and been making more time for ME! I am managing my time much better and can fit so much more into my week!”
Kath Shackleton, Producer at Fettle Animation

4) “Participating in the Helen North Achieve Programme allowed me to reflect and focus on those aspects of my career that I wanted to nurture, change and build upon. It gave me the confidence to seek out new challenges, become a mentor and drive harder than ever for the projects and people that I believe in. Importantly, it made me reconsider what success actually means to me… I’ve learnt that small, forgettable everyday achievements are just as important markers of success as the memorable, career game-changers.”
Natalie Llewelyn, Head of Development ar Jellyfish Pictures

5) “Since completing the programme, I have registered as a STEM Ambassador and gave a talk to A-level students last month. I found that quite intimidating but the presentation skills sessions gave me the confidence that I would come across as more knowledgable and assured than I felt. The talk seemed to go well and I had some very positive feedback from the students.”
Lucy Wilkes, Lead Software Developer at Dneg

Find out more about the Helen North Achieve Programme and apply here.

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Achieve Programme, Homepage, Profiles, 0 comments
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

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Homepage, Profiles, 1 comment