Another summer has passed, and another group of interns have been put through their paces working in a real-life studio on a real-life short. Our amazing interns certainly rose to the challenge and created this wonderful short which tackles the thorny issue of making friends and fitting in.
Each intern joined the studio for 8 weeks, spending half their time working on a live studio project, and half their time making this short. Discovering how a real client project works and learning the studio's tools and workflow, whilst also getting the opportunity to collaborate by creating something from scratch in just a few short weeks.
We spoke to the interns about their experience of working at Blue Zoo and the process of making their first short film. A huge thank you to Lana (Concept Art & Design), Lucie (Animation), Clara (Lighting & Compositing), Ana Maria (Rigging) and Chloe (Storyboarding).
How have you found studio life at Blue Zoo?
“I didn't expect the studio to have cereal, snacks, candy, and beer o'clock. Anytime we have a meeting, you better bet that I'm reaching for the candy jar. I guess you can say that it's pretty sweet working here!” Lucie
“Studio life has been an amazing experience to work in, everything about the schedule has been new compared to what I’ve worked previously in Uni and other work I’ve had and I’ve loved every moment of it. I wasn’t too sure what to expect from studio life honestly so everything seemed new and exciting, Blue Zoo was definitely a lovely and welcoming place to come to for a first job in the industry!” Chloe
"I was totally immersed in the studio life, and I had a real vision of professional life, with meetings and feedback on my work." Clara
Character concept sketches from the short by Lana
What have you learnt?
“Thanks to my awesome supervisors Francesco and Negar I learnt a lot about producing for a series, how to be straight to the point, how important it is to keep it simple while staying efficient.” Lana
“Getting a hold of time management and knowing what I’m capable of was something that was really put to the test with the work I was doing and I’d like to think it’s definitely getting there, knowing what I’m capable of. Before, I was used to just being able to work whenever I wanted/needed to but being confined to studio hours has been more of a blessing than a curse.” Chloe
"I learned how to work with people who didn't have the same skills as me. You have to think about how to be more organised and how to adapt the project for all people. I learned Redshift and how to use the studio's pipeline too." Clara
Lana drawing concept art
What does a typical day as an intern at Blue Zoo look like?
“Walking through Regent’s Park to go to the studio where I start by enjoying a fresh bowl of cereals or fruit. Then, discuss with my supervisor about the task of the day or continue the task of the previous day (basically drawing characters or props or environments ). I’ll then launch my favourite podcast to listen to while drawing and showing the progression to my supervisor." Lana
“It probably varies a lot from department to department but for me, it was very spontaneous, one day I could be working on the intern short, whereas other days I could have been doing fixes for live work or even assignments that my mentor was giving me to practice for upcoming work. It was very new and fresh each day which was really exciting and engaging.” Chloe
Chloe drawing the storyboards
What has been your greatest challenge?
“When I arrived I worked on Go jetters. It was a bit tricky to get the style of the show and simplify the design. But my supervisor showed me a few tricks to help me with the simplification of the designs.” Lana
“I’m French American so leaving the US to come to the UK was a struggle. Leaving everything and everyone I knew behind was very hard but I'm so grateful that everyone here has been welcoming and friendly. In the beginning, it was fairly common for me to ask other animators basic questions like where to go grocery shopping in London!” Lucie
“My time management I would have to say. With work I had done before I was used to taking my time to get all the fine details done and perfected, however when you’re working within a pipeline and other people are waiting on the other side for your work so they can start their part, you have to find a balance between getting things done within your set deadline and still making it look as good as you want it to be.” Chloe
"Not to be shy, because my English is very bad!" Clara
Clara busy working on the character shaders
What have been your highlights?
“Learning with my two supervisors - they are both very talented and dedicated to their roles. They did inspire me every day of my internship.” Lana
“Being surrounded by so many cultures! Just in our intern group, three of us were French. It's been awesome meeting people from all over Europe.” Lucie
“Ah, so many! It’s been an amazing experience, but the people I’ve met and the projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on would have to be the highlights. Everyone at the studio is so lovely and welcoming and everyone's there to do a good job, they’re interested to talk to new people and make them feel a part of the Blue Zoo family!” Chloe
"I think my highlight was to work fast with software that I didn't know!" Clara
Making the short
How did the idea come about?
“The prompt that BZ gave us was “learning something new”. All 5 of us interns came up with ideas that we thought about over the first weekend of the internship. On that Monday, we came back as a group and pitched our ideas in a meeting. They were all very different interpretations of the prompt but we ended up taking a little bit of each idea to create a story we could all relate to.” Lucie
“The starting point was ‘learning something new’, which then lead to growing as a person through self acceptance and essentially learning how to love yourself or being happy with oneself. We wanted to do a fun spin on this idea so decided why not go with plant people instead of humanoids so it could be a fun and colorful way to express the message we wanted.” Chloe
Character sketches from the short
What was the process?
“The storyboard artist Chloe started the storyboard as soon as we had the script finished. In parallel I worked on the design of the first character so the CG artist Clara could start modelling, and Ana rigged. Then Lucie started layout so she could animate as soon as the rig was done. Same again with the secondary characters and the set.” Lana
Working on the rigging
What was the biggest challenge?
“The greatest challenge was the time management. Because I worked on the visual development part of the short, everything has to be done really quickly so other people could start working on it as soon as possible. But we all had a clear idea of what we wanted and we scheduled a lot of shorts informal meetings with the other interns so decisions could be made really fast.” Lana
“Having such a tight deadline was a little overwhelming but I think we all gave us a sneak peek into how fast projects are done here.”
“Being the first 3D project I’d storyboarded for, it forced me to consider more what we would need in terms of assets, lighting and simulation. With previous projects, I’d always thought ‘well I’ll just draw that in’ or animate it in 2D, but this time anything that was thought of for the story, we had to make sure we would be capable of making it or if something would require visual effects or simulation.” Chloe
Concept art: office sets by Lana
What did you enjoy most about making the short?
“Discussing with the other interns and making a film that we all enjoyed together.” Lana
“Working with everyone on the team and being able to see all stages of the pipeline was great! I’ve enjoyed working with everyone who was a part of the project and it was fun to run into these new challenges and calculate ways to overcome them!” Chloe
"My favourite part was the modelling and the texturing because I loved our characters." Clara
“Seeing how talented the other interns were. I remember looking at the colour keys that Lana did and just being in awe of how stunning they were. All of them were just so amazing that they were my biggest motivation once animation started.” Lucie
Colour keys by Lana
Thinking of applying for a Blue Zoo internship?
Around April time next year, applications will open for the 2019 summer internship programme. If you’re thinking of applying, here’s some helpful advice to help you make that decision!
“Do not show only one type of work, show that you can do characters as well as props and environments. Don’t be to stressed during the interview, they are nice people!” Lana
“I applied 30 minutes before the internship application closed up. I kept putting it off because I didn’t think I had a shot at actually getting it. After the internship was over, BZ decided to keep me as a junior animator. So stop doubting yourself and keep applying!” Lucie
“Just do it! I know some people can look at positions and think ‘I’ll never get that so there’s no point in applying’. Also, I think getting your portfolio ready to prepare to apply for studios is a good way of reflecting on your current work and seeing where exactly you are and what weak points you might want to work on.” Chloe
"Don't be afraid to share your opinion!" Clara
Still from the short
Concept art: props from the short which is set in an office out of hours