Meet Silvia Cortellino, our supercool CG Generalist! Silvia recently joined us from Milan and her love of art and cinema inspired her to choose a career in animation over fashion! We managed to catch up with her for a few minutes to discuss what her role involves and what she loves about animation.
How did you get into animation?
As far as I can remember, I've always had a predominant creative side (one of my childhood's sweetest memories is when I painted the most beautiful watercolour sunset of the whole school year :D).
Nonetheless, for awhile I didn't really have the chance to improve on my artistic skills as I studied foreign languages in highschool.
When it was time to choose which university course I would have to attend though, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do something more creative and art oriented.
Growing up in Milan, the fashion industry has always had a lot of visibility and for awhile I actually considered following that path, but when I found out about the CG Animation course held by IED (European Institute of Design), I immediately realised that animation and computer graphics were what I wanted to do in life.
How long have you worked in the animation industry?
I've been working in the industry since 2012, but my very first job in animation was in 2014.
During that year, I had the great opportunity to work for Studio Bozzetto, an animation studio based in Milan and formerly created by Bruno Bozzetto, one of the first, most reknowned and respected Italian animators.
What's your current role and what does it involve?
I am currently a CG Generalist here in Brown Bag Films which means, specifically, that I work in both the texturing and modelling departments.
Modelling may include different stages from sculpting, generally realising in ZBrush, or retopology to a more linear modeling workflow in Maya.
The texturing phase consists of creating maps that will later be applied to the final 3d model.
Most of the time this can be very challenging, as it is required to be very versatile and flexible enough to move, not just from one production to the other, but also through different departments.
What are your biggest influences/inspirations?
In terms of animation, I have been genuinely ispired by Pixar movies; I grew up with Toy Story, and then naturally fell in love with Ratatouille and Up.
Probably, the younger me was enjoying the most naive and entertaining parts of those stories, but as I grew older, I immediately noticed the amount of work and complexity behind it all, and mostly how tightly connected it was with art.
In terms of becoming a creative person, I will never thank my parents enough for raising me in a house full of art and with such a strong passion for cinema which I believe strongly influenced me.
I remember, in fact, that since I was just a little child they’ve always tried to share their interest for movies, sometimes with endless (but very entertaining) conversations about it or suggesting unusual choices; for example, I LOVED the Twilight Zone, science fiction cult movies and even Hitchcock’s classics.
What’s your favourite tool to use and why?
I don’t think I could identify one specific tool, but considering the whole creative process, one of the things I like to do the most is definitely create and organise texture layers.
Starting from a neutral base, generally depending on the material or the object itself, I feel a huge sense of satisfaction adding, layer by layer, details that can actually reveal the models story and personality like, for example, the most ruined/damaged areas, scratches, specific patterns or saturation...
What advice would you give someone considering getting into animation?
I think that the best advice I could give is to practice, practice, practice.
Something I noticed about this industry in the past few years is that it's constantly changing and improving; it is positive, of course, in order to achieve better results, but at the same time, it really forces you, as an artist, to keep learning and updating your skills.
Consequently, don't rely only on academic or received knowledge, look for what truly inspires you, what you're good at, and do your best to improve it.
Last, I'd say, never be afraid to share your work; nowadays, social media can be a great way to gain visibility, get in touch with amazing artists all around the world and, in my opinion, constructive criticism can often be the key for self-improvement.
What do you like most about working in animation?
What I really love about animation is its creative environment; it is incredible how much it has to offer in terms of energy.
Personally, I observed that people in animation can come from very different places and with very different and unique stories, but they're all characterised by the same genuine passion for what they do, and this is something I truly admire.
Moreover, it's very easy to be influenced by this kind of energy, so it can offer a natural creative boost!
What’s been the most challenging thing about working in animation?
One thing that I’ve found most challenging in animation concerns the visual development.
I think that it is a pretty common mistake to associate animation with a generic “cartoon style”; on the contrary, it contains a wide variety of styles in terms of stylisation, realism, colour, detail, and so on...
Consequently, a full understanding of the production's style is not always immediate; sometimes, it evolves along the way.
Considering how easy it is to actually influence proportions, for example with curve placement, it can be challenging to fully understand “someone else’s point of view”.
And tight deadlines. They’re ALWAYS challenging
Outside of animation what are you most passionate about?
Well, I am firmly convinced that there is always room for improvement, so when I am not doing 3d for work, I generally try to find some time to do 3d for myself, in order to practice new techniques and stay creative.
But when I do, and I DO, take my eyes off a monitor, I really enjoy music; specifically, from when I had the chance to see the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra live in Milan, I developed a vivid passion for Jazz music.
This also extends to a wider interest for vintage; for example, I love to "get lost" in vintage and flea markets and, more recently, I have also started to attend Charleston classes.
Check out more of Silvia's art work here: silvia.artstation.com/
Are you interested in getting into animation? Keep an eye on our Behind-the-Scenes and Tutorials pages for more interviews, #Tutorials and #TopTips!