It's intern season in the studio, which means a flock of budding, eager minds ready to take on the world of animation, make connections and improves their skills along the way.
This year we've got four talented interns working with us - 2D Designer Tracy Dalton, CG Generalist Nicky Weston, Production Assistant Conor Griffin and Storyboard Revisionist Niamh O'Sullivan.
We asked our Interns a few questions, to get to know them and see what gets them ticking. And most importantly, to find out what they love about animation. Here's what they had to say...
What's your background?
Niamh: I've got a HND in Classical and Computer Animation from Ballyfermot College of Further Education and a BA Degree in Animation from Colaiste Dhulaigh.
Nicky: I have an Honors Degree in Animation from B.C.F.E.
Tracy: I studied Animation and Motion Design at Limerick School of Art and Design for four years.
Conor: I studied Media Production Management in Ballyfermot College.
Why did you apply for an internship with us?
Conor: I have always had a love of animation and was extremely interested in finding a career in the industry. After graduating college, I was constantly on the lookout for jobs that I felt I would be qualified for. Coming from a production background in college, I felt that the Production Assistant internship position would be the ideal way to gain experience and to hopefully continue a career in this area.
Niamh: I wanted to learn more about storyboarding and improve my skills. I'd just finished college and I wanted to learn more about the animation industry. Brown Bag Films work on so many exciting and different shows that I wanted to apply here.
Nicky: I have a passion for CG and animation, and I've always wanted to work with Brown Bag Films.
Tracy: I'm here because I love to draw and design. I applied to Brown Bag because I knew the studio's work, loved the variety of projects being worked on and thought it was a great opportunity to learn and develop my skills.
What kind of animation do you like?
Niamh: I love all types of animation, anything from Steven Universe to The Legend of Korra to Full Metal Alchemist. Anything with a good storyline and some decent action scenes.
Nicky: CG Animation (3D).
Tracy: 2D animation is my favourite, I think. I like colorful, emotive pieces that are quirky, full of detail and interesting to look at.
Conor: I like a variety of styles, including 3D and stop-motion, but I tend to always go back and watch a lot of 2D animations, particularly early Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros.
Tell us about your first day...
Conor: The first day was great. We were given a tour of the entire studio and brought out for lunch. During the first week, I was introduced to many of the staff as well as being given an overview of what my work would consist of in the coming months.
Tracy: I was excited and nervous on the first day but everyone was so friendly and welcoming, it didn't take long at all to settle in and get to know people. During my first week, I was shown around the studio more and 2D Designer Derek Horan gave me some tests to start, to help become familiar with the studio's current productions.
Nicky: My first day was great, I got a tour of the three buildings and got to see some of the amazing projects that Brown Bag Films are working on. I was brought out to lunch, and then in the afternoon I met my mentor Assistant 3D Supervisor Matt Lloyd and we went through everything I was going to cover over the next 6 months.
Niamh: My first day started with the studio tour, then I had an induction and met my mentor Storyboard Revisionist Cliona Curran. After that, I was shown my workspace and got to meet the rest of the team.
And how are things going with the mentorship...
Niamh: It's been great, I've learned so much in the short time I've been here. My mentor Cliona is a Senior Storyboard Revisionist. She sets me tasks and has taught me how to properly revise storyboards. Storyboard revisions involve taking the storyboards and then applying fixes and changes that the directors request. You are always busy, but everyone here is so helpful no matter what questions you have.
Nicky: Matt, my mentor, has been great at training me in and showing me the Brown Bag way of doing the tasks I'm set. So far, my mentorship has involved modeling up props, creating the UV's for the props (preparation for texture artist) and now I'm moving onto some pre-viz work.
Tracy: The mentorship has been brilliant so far. It started off with reading scripts and becoming familiar with the layout and characters of the productions. Then I was set tests for which I designed any variants in an episode, for example, changes in outfits, sets or new props/characters. The tests and the revision notes I've gotten from my mentor Derek have helped me learn the style of the production. I've also started working on doing some turn-arounds, starting with small props and going forward from there.
Conor: The mentorship has been great! My mentor who has been specifically assigned to me has been extremely helpful and open to answering any questions I've had along the way. As a production assistant intern I've spent some time helping out on multiple productions in order to get a feel for how each one works and varies.
Describe your typical day to day activities...
Niamh: When I arrive in the morning I get assigned notes from my mentor to work on throughout the day. The notes are for fixes that are needed in storyboards and there are different revisions everyday which keeps you motivated. They may be small fixes, like moving/ adding/ removing an object or changing an emotion of a character or they can be big changes, like re-staging the shot or adding poses to a character's action. When I finish these I send them to the director. They either approve or ask for the drawings to be redone. When approved, the shots are sent to post-production where an animatic can be made.
Nicky: My typical day to day activities involve checking in with my mentor and finding out what the priority for the day is and then beginning work on the task at hand. I sit beside my mentor, so it's great if I am ever stuck, he is always there to give me advice and help me out, answer any emails and check to see if I have any meetings. Then I go to lunch and catch up with all my friends and then back to completing my work.
Tracy: My typical day involves doing turn-arounds of designs the 2D Artists have done. The designs can be of anything, from an outfit to a prop or a character, so it's always something new, different and interesting. Once I have a first pass done, I send it to be reviewed and get feedback, this continues until the turn-around is approved and ready to be sent on to be 3d modelled. I also work on my personal project during the day as well!
Conor: It changes depending on the day and what show I'm on but I've been helping out with some of the production assistant tasks, such as creating final model sheets, aiding in visual deliveries, gathering episodic references for franchise requests and creating conform boards for episodes. I've also sat in on meetings for each show I've worked on, which has helped me gain a fuller understanding of the production process.
You mentioned working on your own personal project, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Tracy: Yes, I was given a personal project to do at the beginning of my internship. It's completely design based, so I get to design multiple versions of characters, sets and props while working on my colour and lighting too! Then I narrow down the choices of character designs to do a final turn-around. It's a brief based project that requires different designs for different age groups so it's a good exercise to practice changing your style and designs for what's needed.
Niamh: My mentor has set me a few different projects where I had to create my own storyboards. In one of the projects I have been given a song and I have created a storyboard and dance sequence to go with it. It's tough to fit all your ideas into such a short sequence but it has taught me to edit and pick my best ideas.
Nicky: I was given a personal project on my first day. I'm modelling up an abandoned, haunted house that will also be textured and have lighting and shader's added and some small effects. It will also be rendered in V-ray. I'm enjoying working on this and I'm hoping it will turn out to be a great piece.
What do you think of Brown Bag Films so far? (Don't worry you won't offend us! Go nuts!)
Tracy: It's great, there's a really lovely atmosphere in the studio! There's always so much going on that you can get involved in and everyone is friendly and happy to help you out or answer any questions you have.
Conor: So far, I absolutely love the place! The staff are all extremely welcoming and friendly and in general it's just a great work environment to come to every day.
Niamh: I love it here, the rest of the staff are all so friendly and helpful. I get to draw and learn new skills every day and Pizza Thursday is the best. The place is never short on sweets or toys which is amazing!
Nicky: I love Brown Bag Films and all my fellow animation colleagues. Everyone's so nice and friendly and are willing to help you anytime. There is so much going on with social events and games. But the best part is getting to work on some of the greatest shows on earth and being part of a company that collaborates with some of the most amazing talent the world has to offer.
Have you learned anything from your first few weeks here?
Conor: Yes, I've learned a tonne so far! I've gained a real insight into the whole production process and the inner workings of the various shows. I've felt all the tasks I've been given so far and the meetings I've gone to have been extremely beneficial in learning more about my current intern position and the industry as a whole.
Tracy: Mostly, how fast the work turn-around is, in college you're used to deadlines and having your own work or group work in by a certain time. But here, you really see how many people it takes and how the pipeline process really works, it's very different but really interesting to see and learn what your role in that process is.
Niamh: I've learned so much in the last few weeks from my mentor and directors on my team. From just seeing these artists working and also, from their critiques of my work.
What's your favourite thing about animation?
Nicky: My favourite thing about animation is the CG element. Bringing something from concept to to life.
Niamh: I love detailed backgrounds and the sense of depth artists create from them like some of the city art from The Legend of Korra and some of the concept work from The Last of Us.
Tracy: My favorite thing is being able to create characters that people can relate to or feel for.
Conor: I feel it's an amazing form of artistic expression that allows people to create things that would otherwise be impossible in other formats.
Got any animation heroes?
Nicky: I love the work of Javier Blanco his character modeling showreel is amazing.
Tracy: I mostly get my inspiration from being outside. At the minute, it mostly comes from walking around Dublin and people watching. There are so many vibrant characters in the city, it's hard not to notice! Right now, I also love Vincent Maufays illustrations, there's so much colour, texture and detail in them, they're inspiring me to work on developing my own settings and environments!
Conor: John Kricfaulsi is a big hero of mine in the animation world. I felt his animation style was really unique and the first season of Ren and Stimpy that he worked on was my first exposure as a child to cartoons with really mature and more adult themes and humour. I'm also a big fan of the comic book artist and writer Daniel Clowes and find his illustrations and stories absolutely amazing.
What's your favourite tool to use?
Niamh: I like to traditionally rough out work with a pencil and then use photoshop to work it up digitally.
Tracy: A 3B pencil for sketching, because I find my drawings are a bit looser, sketchier and there's better movement in them, and then I can go and tidy them up in Photoshop afterwards.
Nicky: I love ZBrush. But now I am also really enjoying using Maya.
What would be your dream role in animation?
Niamh: I'd love to develop my skills enough to one day become a good Storyboard Artist because then you get the chance to interpret scripts and illustrate them in your own style.
Nicky: I love what I am doing right now as a CG Generalist. I can work on a number of different things from modeling, rigging, texturing, lighting, and other duties so I am never doing just one thing.
Tracy: I want to be a Designer!
Conor: Personally, I really enjoy the production aspect of animation and would ultimately want to continue working in this area of animation. A dream role for me would be to work my way up to Production Manager.
What's your favourite animation?
Niamh: My favourite animation is Disney's Mulan. It is one of the films that actually inspired me to get into animation, especially the scene where she decides to go to war. It's such a powerful scene and it's only a minute and a half long but it is my favourite scene of all time.
Nicky: If it's a 3D movie, it has to be Monsters Inc. and for a 2D movie, it has to be the classic Watership Down.
Tracy: Ah right now, it's The Boxtrolls. Lately, I've been looking at all the sets they built and the models and maquettes and it's just incredible the amount of detail and work put into it. The concept art for it is really lovely too and I love that it's a little bit dark and gritty but the characters are still very playful and funny.
Conor: It's a tough one to answer but if I had to choose one favourite animation, I'd probably go with a TV series called Home Movies. I discovered it when I was 11 years old and it really made a lasting impression on me. The animation style is extremely basic and in the first season they used a computer animation technique called squigglevision. Although basic, the animation really stood out to me from other shows that I had been exposed to at that time and suited the show perfectly. The dialogue was largely improvised and when paired with the squigglevision style animation it created an extremely unique feel.
What's your favourite thing to draw?
Niamh: I love to draw fan art of video games and cartoons. Lately, I have been drawing a lot of art from The Last of Us, Overwatch and Crash Bandicoot. I also love drawing dogs and backgrounds, because I really love making detailed perspective drawings.
Nicky: I like to draw animals and anatomy. It helps me when I am building characters and rigging them.
Tracy: Characters and people mostly!
Conor: Taz the Tazmanian Devil!
Thoughts on Smithfield?
Niamh: It's a really nice area and so handy to get to. It's in walking distance of everything and you can pop into the cinema after work if you wanted. There are also cool places like Token (for gamers) and some really nice restaurants.
Nicky: Great. Really lively, happening location.
Tracy: There's loads of cafe's and restaurants on the square and close by, that you can go to, and there's a lot of space to sit down outside on a nice day and have your lunch. It's always busy and full of life.
Conor: In the last few years there's been an extremely wide range of bars and cafe's that have sprung up and along with the Lighthouse Cinema there's a lot you can do in the area!
Where's your favourite place to get coffee / lunch?
Niamh: The mini pizza's they do at lunch are amazing.
What do you do outside of Brown Bag Films?
Niamh: Sleep, eat pizza, draw and play video games.
Conor: Mainly watch movies and go out with friends but also enjoy playing guitar in my spare time and playing video games.
Nicky: Well, I work on my own animation projects when I'm at home. At the moment, I am working on my animation short, which is building up to be something really good. Other things I do are play computer games, watch movies. I am a big MMA fan. I also like to spend time with my nephews and family.
Tracy: I like to read a lot and work on personal projects. I also like to go walking, whether it's in the park, at the beach or even just through town. At the minute, I'm still getting to know Dublin, so I spend a lot of time wandering around and finding all the markets, galleries, parks and everything it has to offer!
There you have it! Keep an eye on our blog for more updates from our interns very soon!