In our new series, Trinity College alumni share five things that we should know about their respective jobs and industries. We kick off with Agatha Murphy (née Ozdowska), who has animated some impressive big budget films.
Agatha Murphy (née Ozdowska) (TC 1995) has worked in various levels of production on features including The Great Gatsby, Happy Feet 2, Legends of the Guardians, Blinky Bill, 100% Wolf, and Mia and Me, along with a number of TV shows at companies such as Animal Logic, Dr D, Bazmark and Flying Bark. Here, she lets us in on five things to know about working in the animation and VFX (visual effects) industry.
The work that the world is bringing to our shores, and to our terrific companies, is booming. If you’re looking for a foot in from the production side or artist side, this is the time to get into the industry.
I went into animation knowing that everyone in the industry is bound only by imagination. When I worked in VFX (visual effects) production on The Great Gatsby I was stunned by how many shots in the movie were VFX – i.e. created against a green screen (there are some great YouTube clips to show you what I mean), and the exciting thing to see now is how seamlessly live action and VFX intertwine in movies.
Working at the front of the animation pipeline is where my heart lies. This is where you work with a small group of people to carve the script and create the concept artwork.
As you move into animation, skilled artists work very hard to create what has been created in the process before it. And if a scene needs to be changed, often you go back to the beginning and start again.
You also often get to work with artists from different countries. I’ve worked with teams from the US, Mexico, China, India, Thailand and Germany. While communication can sometimes be an issue, and the time zone differences mean emails and Zoom meetings are sent and scheduled at all hours of the day and night, the passion of the people who are in these teams create something fantastical and excitement never wavers.
Sometimes it can feel like you’re working in a sausage factory – especially in animation. When a deadline looms, the work has to be done. There’s a knock-on effect if it isn’t, and your job in production is to ensure the successful delivery of the work through multiple departments.
If shots aren’t produced, scenes can’t be constructed and the film can’t be delivered on the date it needs to be in cinemas. So, hours can get very, very long the closer you get to deadlines – for both production people and the artists.
These crazy hours worked fine for me personally before I started a family, but now the long hours make juggling life achievable but a little trickier.
While live action filmmaking came to a sudden halt in 2020, the animation industry barely skipped a beat. I was working at Flying Bark in Sydney and in the space of a week, a full studio was cleared out and we all started working remotely from home. This had already been going on to some extent with the teams working overseas, but the idea of artists working remotely (at least partly) became more acceptable and is offered as an option for many artists. This is a good thing if going into an office five days a week is – or becomes – an issue.