Benjamin Skinner. UTS ALA Graduate - Pipeline technical director and real-time developer at UTS Animal Logic Academy
Some of the key differences from this degree and the last degree I’ve done is that it was much, much more hands on
My name’s Ben Skinner; I was a student at the UTS Animal Logic Academy, and I’m now employed at the academy as a pipeline technical director and real-time developer.
Some of the key differences from this degree and the last degree I’ve done is that it was much, much more hands on. The work environment that was cultivated at the academy was really great in that every day we were here, turning up, and had deliverables. The cohort I was with were great and the leads were constantly helping us to get the best out of our performance working with other people as well.
Another key reason that I came to the academy was because of the leads. They all had so much industry experience, so they brought in their experience from shows that they’d worked on like the Great Gatsby and Happy Feet 2, and all throughout it was very much like, what can we do to bring ourselves up to that industry standard?
Technically, there was also lots that I learnt as well, so I pushed myself not only to use technologies we knew. So, for the first studio, we pushed ourselves to come up with an award-winning solution to the Python and the USD integrations that we had with Shotgun and we had to create custom tools for that.
So, my involvement with the studio projects varied, but most of it was in a programming capacity, so working with real-time engines such as Unity and Unreal, we coded together something quite quick to make lots of prototypes, flesh out ideas with the team and the technical experience I could bring to that was so great in order to make these ideas a reality.
Emma Cooney. UTS ALA Graduate - Lighting Artist, Mill Film, Adelaide
If you want a way into the industry, if you want to make genuine connections with your peers and your mentors, this course is excellent for that
My name’s Emma Cooney; I’ve been a lighting artist on the Lego Movie 2 with Animal Logic Sydney and I’m about to start a lighting roll with the Mill Film in Adelaide.
Before I started at the academy, I did a degree in fine arts, focusing on drawing and print making. It was a very traditional arts course; my base software knowledge coming into the course was basically Photoshop.
Being here 9-5, working with a very small core team constantly, definitely has a different level of intensity to just being in a degree. The emphasis here is so much on teamwork and being part of a department and also part of a greater pipeline, you don’t really get that in many other places.
Over the course of the year, I learnt a lot of skills in surfacing and lighting specifically – they were areas I was really interested in focusing on. So, I learnt several programs in each: I learnt Mari, Substance Painter and Substance Designer for surfacing work, and I got to experience Isotropix Clarisse, Katana and Renderman as a renderer.
If you want a way into the industry, if you want to make genuine connections with your peers and your mentors, this course is excellent for that. If you want to learn new skills really quickly in a super intensive, short-term environment, this is a great course for that.
If it’s something you’re currently considering but you’re not 100 per cent sure about it, just reach out to the academy. All the guys there are super helpful and happy to answer any questions about what we do here.
Hamish Lawler. UTS ALA Graduate - Junior Layout Artist at Flying Bark
If you’re serious about trying to get a job in the industry you should come to the academy, because it’s basically the best preparation you can get
My name is Hamish Lawler and when I finished at the Animal Logic Academy, I did previous work at Studio Blackbird and I’m now a junior layout artist at Flying Bark.
Before coming to the academy, I had done an undergrad degree in games and interactive entertainment, specialising in animation. The key differences between the ALA master’s degree and my undergrad degree is definitely the studio experience. My previous degrees were very individual-based work with lectures and tutorials and assignments, while here was full, proper collaboration with large groups, which prepared me really well for proper studio work. I felt that I learnt more here in the first three months in Studio 1 than I did the entire three years of my previous bachelor.
My time at the academy with my current role, it prepared me really well. I basically walked out the door at the academy and walked into a studio environment and I felt completely at home. I’d already – like, dailies, desk rounds, it was all exactly the same and some of the people I’d already met here at the academy were working there as well.
My advice to anyone who’s thinking about applying, first of all, just apply, even if you’re not sure whether your reel is good enough yet or not. If it isn’t, then the mentors at the academy will let you know, and you can always apply again and prepare it.
So, if you’re serious about trying to get a job in the industry you should come to the academy, because it’s basically the best preparation you can get.
Matina Akes. UTS ALA Graduate - Assets/Environments Artist, Mill Film, Canada
It is intense, but it is also really worth it
Hi, my name’s Matina Akes, I’m a recent graduate from the Animal Logic Academy. Right now, I’m packing my bags to go over to Montreal in Canada to work on a Disney project with Mill Film.
So, my involvement in the academy was to be a concept artist and then I also did some modelling and I pushed my skills in surfacing, which was a new thing for me coming into the academy, but I really enjoyed it because I got to have creative freedom.
Probably the most challenging thing was coming into the academy with no expectations. I didn’t know that I was going to be pushed into other departments where there is less [inaudible] in concept art, and it really pushed my skills to learn something new, to collaborate with other students as well that know another department a bit better than me and then I can learn from that as well. So, I think really pushing myself to learn something new was probably the most hard thing, but I think it was worth it in the end.
Being in the team environment, you’re giving and receiving feedback all the time, so you’ve got to be ready to take criticism about your work, but also knowing that you’re there to improve all the time. I think if you want to push yourself and really experience something that’s not the normal sort of school environment, it is more of industry.
It is intense, but it is also really worth it.
Monica Stringer. UTS ALA Graduate - Digital Artist at Animal Logic
There’s dailies, there’s desk rounds, it’s led by industry, people are assigned roles..and it goes through the pipeline like a regular studio. It’s really cool
My name’s Monica Stringer, I’m a current graduate of UTS Animal Logic Academy. I’m currently a digital artist in the rigging department at Animal Logic.
Previously, before going to the academy, I did a 3D bachelor at Enmore Design Centre. One of the key differences between the master’s and the bachelor’s I did would be the coursework. The bachelor focused primarily on classes and learning fundamentals, whereas the master’s just kicks off and gets you straight into work.
[Inaudible] like industry in the way that it really is like work. There’s dailies, there’s desk rounds, it’s led by industry, people are assigned roles like lead and it goes through the pipeline like a regular studio. It’s really cool.
I really appreciated the hands-on approach. When I volunteered to learn rigging, they brought industry experts into give us a huge masterclass as fast as possible and get us rolling. Learning to rig from people from Animal Logic gave me a sneak peek into how they roll and how they do their thing, which gave me definitely a step up on applying and gave me some insights into how they do it so I could just hit the road running as soon as I got in there.
The most challenging thing about the academy to me was the duality of downtime and high stress. Trying to figure out what to do when there’s nothing for you to do, but also that high intensity when you need to multiple things and trying to manage that time properly, but very rewarding at the end of the day.
Aaron De Leon – 3D Modeller UTS Animal Logic Academy 2017
I'm hoping to get into anything 3D but mainly in the focus of 3D modelling as that's my biggest passion.
Aaron DeLeon: Hi. My name's Aaron DeLeon and I'm a 3D modeller.
Aaron DeLeon: Prior to getting into this academy, I studied a two year course in Games, Design and Development where I basically picked up most of my basic 3D skills.
Aaron DeLeon: The preferred tools that I use as a 3D artist consist of Maya, ZBrush and Splay Tree. Reasoning for why I like to use them is mainly because of how efficient and intuitive they can be. Maya I mainly use for hard surface models, ZBrush for more organic models and Splay Tree of course for trees. I'm using a lot of Splay Tree to create trees, simulating winds and root systems.
Aaron DeLeon: The proudest achievements I've accomplished throughout this year has definitely been just mainly the skills that I've picked up both socially and in terms of my 3D skills set. Biggest achievements would be accomplishing for Studio One, Two and hopefully coming Three.
Aaron DeLeon: Those master classes have definitely been of great help. Seeing them, seeing how they work, seeing other work [inaudible 00:01:14] that other people utilize when working toward a certain result and definitely been a big help and the [inaudible 00:01:21] is definitely as well. Having them come over, help you out or calling them over to finalize certain types of work and giving you the right direction.
Aaron DeLeon: Where do I see myself in industry? I'm hoping to get into anything 3D but mainly in the focus of 3D modelling as that's my biggest passion.
Meet Alessandra Grasso – Layout and Lighting Artist UTS Animal Logic Academy 2017
The main thing that inspires me about visual effects and about VR is that it's able to make fantasy a reality. You're able to create something that maybe we'd only see in our dreams and bring that to life
Alessandra G.: I'm Alessandra Grasso. I'm a layout and lighting artist. Going straight from a bachelor's to a master's degree is definitely a step up, a huge step. Especially with this degree being the way that it is at industry level. The main thing is you really have to be a problem solver. You have to keep thinking and rethinking, maybe talk to someone else. Gather your thoughts with everyone else and then keep problem solving.
Alessandra G.: Over the course of the year, I gained much experience in [inaudible 00:00:30] for lighting and layout. Unity for our virtual reality and augmented reality projects and for composting. On our first studio project I lit a shot on the ever that was a valley sequence with a firefly going through. That was a really cool experience. I learned a lot doing that and the second shot was the one right after that, the desert sequence where we actually get to see our protagonist, the queen. She stands up.
Alessandra G.: I'm most interested in film and as well interactive experiences like VR and AR. Trying to imagine and be innovative for something completely new was extremely hard. We would think of things and then our supervisor would come back to use and say "Think again. Go further. Go further outside the box." That was a great challenge, but rewarding to see the final product.
Alessandra G.: I think the main thing that inspires me about visual effects and about VR is that it's able to make fantasy a reality. You're able to create something that maybe we'd only see in our dreams and bring that to life.
Meet Jessica D’Ali – Software Developer UTS Animal Logic Academy 2017
I had never worked in production before, and this was a real insight into what it's like, what they do, what their processes are.
Jessica D.: Hi, My name is Jessica D'Ali, and I am a software developer at the UTS Animal Logic Academy.
Jessica D.: I have always wanted to work in production. I've always wanted to work with the artists and work on those big feature films that we all go to the movies to see. In Studio One I had to take on a lot of responsibility in regards to the pipeline process. And it was quite challenging to work with artists, but very rewarding as well. I found that they knew what they needed from me, and they would often come to me and say, "Can you build this tool for me?" Or I would watch them and I would say, "Oh, I could do this tool for you," and I'd come back and present a tool for them.
Jessica D.: I learnt lot about the pipeline process and production in Studio One. I had never worked in production before, and this was a real insight into what it's like, what they do, what their processes are. I use a lot of tools to support production and support the artists in their process. I use a lot of Hyphen, C#, programming for emerging technologies, BR, AR. I had the opportunity to really work with technology which is new and now and modern and working with things that people haven't seen, and therefore don't fully understand yet. I feel like I was on the edge and on the border of what's coming, the future.
Jessica D.: My first degree was a Bachelor of I.T., and it was a cooperative scholarship. The great thing about a computer science background is that you can use it in any industry, and so what I do is I use my programming and my computer science background to help me in industry and to support the artists.
Jessica D.: There's something about working in production that makes me believe I could have that impact on other people, that there'll be other kids, young adults in the audience feeling what I felt before. And that's something I really want to be a part of, and something I really want to do for others.
Jessica D.: UTS Animal Logic Academy has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding years, and I know I'm gonna miss when I finish it.
Meet Alejandro Garrido – 2017 Scholarship Recipient UTS Animal Logic Academy 2017
I would really recommend the UTS Animal Logic Academy scholarships for people in the industry who want to explore the emerging technologies and be given a chance, an opportunity, to take their work to the next level.
Alejandro G.: I'm Alejandro Garrido. I am the recipient of the Animal Logic Academy scholarship for 2017. I came from an Animal Logic effects team, and I am really grateful for being a part of the first ever crew of artists at the Academy.
Alejandro G.: So what do I do? An effects artist. We're involved in the end side of productions. We are normally the guys that go and blow things up, add smoke, fire, or simple dust effects to things. Our work is normally very prominent, but it's the more secretive side of effects that is the real key. The work that we do, it is really, really important. Even the smallest things, we are very careful to make sure that they tell a story of what is happening. Even something like effects is a vital element to storytelling. We might be thinking that effects is just big explosion things and cars burning and things like, but I believe that there is an element of storytelling to be told with everything. One of the great things that I enjoyed was being able to have that creative input, as well as being able to be given great opportunities at experiencing and experimenting with new technologies and staying ahead of productions, where a lot of the times, you wouldn't be able to afford the time to experiment.
Alejandro G.: I would really recommend the UTS Animal Logic Academy scholarships for people in the industry who want to explore the emerging technologies and be given a chance, an opportunity, to take their work to the next level.
Meet Ben Streek – Compositor, Animator & VR/AR Developer UTS Animal Logic Academy 2017
Sometimes you run into a problem and you can just walk over to someone else's desk and ask them how they did it.
Ben Streek: Two jobs that I'm very interested in at the moment are a composer or animation. This year really made me feel like it's a production. The way we got our feedback and the way the processes we used to make shots. Every day you would deliver a shot, you'd get feedback and then you start working on that.
Ben Streek: When I look at a shot, if its real footage or if it's animated I'm always trying to enhance it to make it look better than it is in real life. To give the viewer an experience that they can't have in real life.
Ben Streek: Yeah, I really love working with other people. You walk around and you look over someone's shoulder, you can see them animate or someone else will be programming. Sometimes you run into a problem and you can just walk over to someone else's desk and ask them how they did it.
Ben Streek: What is really interesting about AR and VR is that film is very passive. Yeah, it's like someone telling you a story and when you add VR or AR it becomes an interactive story, which is very interesting. You'll feel more immersed in that story.
Ben Streek: Yeah, unity is really helpful in creating content for PR. It's a very open source and you can go online to find a lot of resources to help you develop or grab bits of codes or [inaudible 00:01:28] assets and bring them all together.
Ben Streek: What's very exciting about VR is that it's very new at the moment. So the whole time you're working on a project you feel like you're discovering new technologies or discovering new ways of working. That makes it very exciting.