April 8, 2015

The Mouseketeers

Two London trips in February established new and familiar connections, and have helped me become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses.

Animated Women UK ran a workshop focused on improving communication skills and work ethics. Held at Double Negative, the discussion covered reputation management, making a good first impression, presenting ideas effectively. We rated our experience in situations such as meetings, interviews and strategic networking; we recognised how we maintain ourselves to “look the part”, behave naturally during interventions.
I would like to have talked more about public speaking. It takes a while for me to process the interaction, particularly face-to-face. My receptiveness can be tentative, which is why I have to review a script, brief, statement or a gesture more than once to fully grasp abstract concepts.
Being a brand manager I’m working to build my online/offline presence in a timely manner. Listening to customers, knowing the competition, find ways to market my services more effective than stalls and ad space in lifestyle magazines.
Valentine’s Day was spent with one of my first loves: Disney. In the Mayfair Hotel I was reunited with Lindsay (AWUK, Toon Boom), Giedrė and Freddie, as other artists, animators, Disney buffs etc were treated to a presentation on Big Hero 6 (which would go on to win an Academy Award the following week), Zootopia very briefly and the culture of the studio.
Zach Parrish, Head of Animation (after Patrick Osbourne left to work on Feast) took us on the feature’s journey from storyboard to screen. The talent scouts talked about the 8-week Summer Internship and the Talent Development Apprenticeship, 3-12 month paid position for those recently graduated within 3 years. More at
We got a kick out of seeing bouncing ball cycles translated to full body walks that started with bouncing balls full of personality; S curves in cloth/hair simulations, the pencil tests and blocking passes. Baymax’s walk and shape were influenced by baby penguins.
I asked how the team makes appealing 3D characters, since my mother raved about how realistic and adorable Hiro looks. The key to that, besides lots of story notes and voice actors, is the input of the modellers and character designers Jin Kim and Scott Watanabe; the droolworthy Hyperion render engine and lighting artists.
A summary of tips from both these career development encounters:
Pitch – sell an idea with a single image, presenting story elements and the technical challenges they may require
Character Animation – all elements such as weight and line of action should work in relation to the whole body
Character Design – tell a character’s story/attitude in a single frame(s); push the dynamics, study action movies
Showreels – demonstrate skills; connect with audience who could be interested in what you’re communicating; play to strengths, e.g. drawing skills for visual development

Employers and customers buy your problem-solving skills that suit their needs, so ask yourself: what can I do to make their lives easier? Do we all have common goals? Is the deal fair to me or them?Further reading/links:

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