After graduating from AUB in 2010, I trained at Aardman Animation on ‘The Pirates, An Adventure with Scientists’ where I did my work experience, and was accepted onto an animation training course with Mackinnon and Saunders. I have since been back to Mackinnon and Saunders in between projects at Aardman to work as an animator.
I have worked on five Shaun the Sheep projects – Nintendo DS, Championsheeps, Series 3, Series 4, with the movie being my 5th – and have been within the company for three years. I’m currently an assistant animator at Aardman Animation working on the Shaun the Sheep feature film.
The crew varies in size from project to project, but my duties as an assistant remain consistent. As an assistant animator, everything plasticine comes through me before going onto the floor to be shot with. I sculpt hundreds of mouths for all the plasticine puppets, and anything else that is needed. Hands, eyelids, eyebrows, re-sculpting heads, animals…. anything, you name it. I’ve even sculpted a pig into a mankini! Along with all of this, I get to animate, pose puppets for production stills to be used for marketing and merchandising, and test any shots that may be problematic for an animator. I also work very closely with model making when they create new puppets, not just because I have to sculpt them, but to make sure everything is ok with the armatures, and that all the bits and pieces work well together before they get onto the floor. I get to do a bit of everything, which is fantastic.
The Animation Production course taught me how important it is to be flexible, organised and work within a team. As an animator, you need to be able to adapt to any studios specific style, not just focus on one. You always work closely with different departments, and this is exactly what I did in my final year at Bournemouth. By speaking to many guest lecturers, the course also taught me how important it is to network, and to show people your work. To except criticism, whether good or bad. This is so important when it comes to developing your skills. It taught me to network with everyone and anyone, not just within your chosen field of animation. It’s great to get some feedback from people who work in a completely different style and medium – I took my work to an interview with Disney, knowing that they don’t produce stop motion, but got some great, positive feedback regarding my character performance.
Overall, the course taught me how to be confident, within myself and my work. I have known from a very young age that I wanted to work within the stop motion industry, but if I hadn’t experienced everything that I did on the course, I may not have had the confidence to get to where I am today.