Maria Robertson, Junior Animator at Factory 42

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Building the stamina to trial and error different concepts is crucial.

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How did studying at Escape Studios help you get into the world of animation?

Escape Studios was great at helping us build networking skills. They hosted lots of events and opportunities to meet and be taught by industry experts, which was amazing. 

Where have you gone on to work and what is your role?

I've been working at Factory 42 as an Animator. My main role is creating animations for creatures, characters, and anything else that moves. I also support how I can in other areas as well, as the team is small. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Just before COVID-19 hit, we were about to release two mixed-reality theatrical experiences, in collaboration with the National History Museum and Science Museum. We've since been working on in-home experiences, while adapting the location-based projects to return when appropriate. 

What do you enjoy most about working for Factory 42?

The team are an absolute blast to work and hang out with. Being a smaller team helped to get to know the people and multiple departments involved much better, and made for an great job fresh out of uni. Exploring new tech and innovative ways to tell stories is very fun. The studio is also based in Somerset House, which is incredible and inspiring to walk into everyday. 

What lessons have you learnt during your time studying and your time working in animation?

Fail fast, often and early. Building the stamina to trial and error different concepts is crucial, and you need to be ready to part with ideas and work if they don't ultimately serve the overall story or purpose.

Check your work with fresh eyes as often as you can, including getting feedback from others. Remember to take mini-breaks every now and then, and you can be surprised at all the new things you notice before and after.

Lastly note-taking and sketchbooks are invaluable! Whether it's writing down why a particular film moved you, sketching the strange way someone on the train sits, or trying to analyse why you didn't enjoy a show - noting little memories somewhere can be incredibly useful when you create your own things later on. Do try to come up with an organised system, otherwise you can end up having to deal with hundreds of post-it notes later (totally not what I did...). 

What was your favourite part of studying at Escape Studios?

Getting to meet, work and make friends with the tutors and students there, while geeking out about animation. 

If you had to sum up your time at Escape Studios in one word, what would it be and why?

Experimentive - I was able to play with different types of teams, roles and projects, to help explore the different aspects of  storytelling, and help figure out where my passions lie. 

What advice would you give to students looking to start a career within the animation industry?

Don't be afraid to reach out to people and ask questions. Be respectful and considerate when messaging, and you might get some great insights if they have time to reply. Particularly with the resources and communities available online today, there are many places to ask for advice, feedback, or even just help with software. Platforms like Linkedin, Discord and Twitter can be great for this and staying up-to-date with news and tips. Also a lot of animation festivals have moved online during COVID-19, even some becoming free, so be sure to check those out too. 

What course did you study?

BA/MArt - The Art of Computer Animation (Integrated Masters)