Tell us a little more about your background, and why you chose to study here at AUB?
I guess I can start by telling you a bit about myself – I will try to keep it as short as I can!
My main reasons for choosing AUB was simply because of the arts. I was a student at the International School of Geneva, and AUB had been recommended to me by the head of guidance. At the time, I was convinced I’d be taking Fine Art, as I particularly loved drawing and painting traditionally, and I did not know anything else. I came to the UK from Switzerland in order to pursue my studies.
When I first started Foundation year in 2011, I still did not know where I was heading or what I wanted to do. All I knew was that my career would be creative. I was willing to do whatever it took to find my career path.
Then, I had an epiphany whilst attending an introductory lecture for BA studies – the lecture for Animation Production. I realised that it encompassed everything I was passionate about and loved – beautiful, artistic worlds, and the stories they could tell. I knew on that day I had found my future career path.
Has your work changed since your studies? How so?
Animation is such a vast industry, and as an animator you have so many career opportunities – children’s series, feature films, gaming, advertising, and many more! Each have their own structures and ways of working, along with specific requirements. As I spent the beginning of my career working primarily in series – which involved rapid pacing, good quality animation, with usually a one-week deadline per episode – I was always interested in dipping a toe into many different areas of the industry – particularly feature films, and gaming. Now that I am working in video games, the workload and pacing are completely different. For example, a one-week deadline in gaming might cover a certain scene, where the focus is on excellent animation – which, of course, takes time!
What are the key skills that you feel you learned or developed during your time at AUB?
Across my university years of 2012 to 2015, the curriculum was heavily focused on learning traditional hand-drawn animation, along with traditional and digital drawing and painting. I quickly realised that hand-drawn animation wasn’t for me, even though I enjoyed traditional drawing and painting. Animating that way is very different! I started to wonder if I’d made the right decision – that is until we were introduced to 3D animation using Maya, where we were shown the basics, and modelling. Even though we weren’t shown how to animate, I really liked using the software. I wanted to research it further, and eventually learn how to animate in 3D.
Unfortunately, back then the course did not include 3D as part of the curriculum, which meant that if I wanted to learn 3D, I would have to learn it by myself – which I did. I dedicated my summer vacation to learning 3D animation, with the help of numerous books and online tutorials. After this, I wanted to pursue an MA degree, to fully refine my self-taught skills and to hopefully be ready for the industry.
I was able to find my first job during my MA at SUPERPROD studios in Angoulême, France, and this marked my very first steps into the animation industry. It was on the job that I fully learned how an animation production team works, and what it takes to be a professional animator.
After three years working across two different studios in Angoulême, I applied and was accepted to Blue Zoo Animation Studios in London, and I returned to the UK in 2019. I’m still residing here now, except I’m currently working as a remote freelance 3D animator for a gaming company based in Frankfurt, Germany.
We often ask our alumni what advice they’d give to students following in their footsteps – what would you offer as words of advice? What words inspired you?
The first point I cannot stress enough, as corny as it sounds, is…
…to never give up, no matter what! During your career search, it can often be stressful, and sometimes not getting replies from companies can make you doubt yourself and your potential. This is a phase we all go through, and it’s important not to succumb to it – to instead overcome it. During the pandemic, I was out of work for a whole year – until I got a reply from the gaming studio I am working for now!
My second point is… if you really want to enter a specific area of the industry, but you don’t have a portfolio for it yet, make it happen! There are so many free online tutorials out there, as well as online courses covering specific fields. I highly recommend Ianimate; during the pandemic, I spent 6 months studying Creature Workshops 1 & 2, hoping to boost the creature work in my portfolio, which was a requirement for many feature film and gaming job offers. It is a super fun, challenging, and enriching course, and I learned a tremendous amount doing it! I just want to emphasise again to always believe in yourself, and work hard to achieve your goals. I was able to get a job in the gaming industry with NO gaming experience. I was motivated, passionate, and showed my creature work and personal portfolio, but nothing more. Never be afraid to try, because chances are you might get the job you never thought you could!
My third and final piece of advice is… be prepared to work long hours (in many cases extra working ones), but do not forget about your well-being. When I started my first job, I worked many long (and extra) hours every single day, because I wanted to show how motivated and dedicated I was. In hindsight, I should have put my well-being first on so many of those occasions. Working hard for long hours is a part of our industry, but don’t forget to listen to your body. You should NEVER put your well-being last!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much for taking the time to read about me and my work! I hope that this helped you in some way, and feel free to reach out on LinkedIn if you’d like!
I will simply wrap up with my motto: Embrace any challenges thrown your way, life is boring without them!
Ana Potter-Lesage - Ianimate Creature Workshop 1 Showreel 2020
- Creator: Ana Potter-Lesage
- Tutor: Scott Holmes
- Course & Rigs: Ianimate
- Music: evolution by www.bensound.com
Ana Potter-Lesage - Ianimate Creature Workshop 2 Showreel 2020
- Creator: Ana Potter-Lesage
- Course & Rig : Ianimate
- Tutor : Erik Morgansen
- Music : Storm by Keys of Moon | soundcloud.com/keysofmoon
- Music promoted by free-stock-music.com
- Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Ana Potter-Lesage - Go Jetters S3 Showreel 2019
- Creator: Ana Potter-Lesage
- Music: cute by www.bensound.com