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Starting Out in Motion Graphics Part Two – Meet the Team

Following on from the previous blog on Starting out in Motion Graphics – Design or a Creative Career, I discussed the importance of networking with people, and the various learning resources and creative CV’s that can be used to create an everlasting impression when venturing out and looking for your dream role. In the beginning of the blog, I stated that I always like to prompt the individual who is doing work experience within the team to ask the team members ‘How did you get started in the industry’ – So I thought I’d ask each member of the Motion Graphics team to write a few paragraphs on how they got into the industry; below are the results…

Georgi Chalakov – Motion Graphics Trainee

I found my passion for motion graphics and digital design a few years ago after starting my degree in Creative Digital Media at Worcester University. In my first year I opted to do a  module in CGI modelling and animation. This instantly grabbed my attention, and I had many evening sessions learning how to use the software and the way in which it works. After this I had opportunities to study a variety of different subjects like graphic design, design for multimedia, sound design and photography. Having these opportunities shaped my interest and career direction, as I found myself making most of my portfolio based on motion graphics.

Networking played a big role in my final year- the university gave me the opportunity to showcase my work and portfolio for a week towards the end of my course. I had the pleasure of meeting the Head of Design, David Withers, from drp. Soon after, I came to see the Midlands drpHQ and  spoke with Peter Richards, Head of  Motion Graphics, and Director of drpvideo, Dagmar Mackett. A few months later, I am working with a fantastic team of positive and very talented people, doing what I love the most!

Sam Bradley – Senior Motion Graphics Designer

I made my way into motion graphics through the back door so to speak! In the Mid 90’s I went to Stourbridge art school and studied general 3D design. I enjoyed sketching and then turning those sketch designs into physical objects in the workshop.

I started to develop my ideas into hard furniture, of which I furthered with my exploration at Wolverhampton Uni. Towards the end of my time at University in 1999, a fellow student introduced me to a 3D program called ‘Shade 3D’. I soon realised that learning a program like this would help me greatly with getting a job in the design industry. Sure enough when I graduated, I found it very difficult getting a job in design as employers in the field were asking for computer aided design skills. This is something back then, my degree didn’t cover in great detail. I soon enrolled on CAD course while working in different factory’s and even Jessops developing photographs.

Not long after finishing my course I saw an advert for a stage set designer at a local company called drp group (now drp) which I promptly applied for and luckily, I got the job!  After several years of producing stage set visuals CAD plans, sketching ideas and concepts I realised I had a passion for 3D &2D graphics.  A college I attended previously  had bought a copy of Cinema 4D into work and after he left I saw an opportunity to start doing motion graphics for drp. I got a copy of after effects from my friend and together with C4D and lots of time reading books and watching DVDs (no YouTube back then for tutorials!) I started to produce motion graphics. Ironically my first job was for Jessops, where my first animated piece of work was an opening sequence i for Jessops’s Internal Program ‘Exposure’. The rest is history!

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Katy McPhee – Motion Graphics Designer
Growing up, my dad was a graphic designer, and my brother was studying photography, so you could say the McPhees have creativity in our genes. My interest in graphics began at school, and I really enjoyed watching the ‘making of’ and ‘behind the scenes’ sections of DVDs, but I couldn’t quite figure out how I would combine the two or find the exact route I wanted to take as a career. Rather than rushing into a graphic design course that wasn’t quite right, I spent a year at Glasgow School of Art, building a practical portfolio. This meant taking design back to basics and using every medium available to you, which allowed me to take some time to figure out my own style and the areas of design I really truly enjoyed. This turned out to be Motion Graphics.

Being able to put a title to the career I wanted to pursue was, absolutely, the turning point for me. It allowed me to search for appropriate undergraduate courses – of which there are few due to motion graphics being one of the more unconventional careers out there. However, I ended up finding the perfect fit at the University of South Wales studying Visual Effects and Motion Graphics. (I got to watch visual effects breakdowns from the latest, yet to be released, Avengers films, whilst learning how to animate a title sequence and best of all, I got to call it ‘studying’)! Following three fantastic years, learning the ins and outs of the industry from tutors who are still in the industry themselves, I managed to secure myself my first ‘proper’ job a month before I had even graduated.

I am now two and a half years into my career as a Motion Designer, and I am still loving every minute of it. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely ups and downs, and it takes hard work, dedication and bucket loads of patience – but I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I remember I’m getting paid to do this as a job.

Motion design is still a fairly new expertise, having really only taken off in the last decade. If you are looking to pursue a career in Motion Graphics then you will quickly learn that in this industry – videos are always in high demand, passion is key and most importantly you get out what you put in. You can’t afford to ever stop learning, and the people that are successful in this field spend a lot of time continually mastering their craft.

If you’re willing to put the hours in, then you’ll soon reap the rewards.

Chris Tilley – Motion Graphics Designer

I studied BA hons in Animation at university, without knowing what I really wanted to do once I graduated. I knew I wanted to work in the animation industry, but with a vast amount of different positions I had no idea where I’d fit in. At university we were offered an option to specialise in 2D (traditional), 3D or stop motion. I specialised in 3D and learnt the software 3DsMax. Once I had graduated, I began the daunting task of job hunting. I came across a position at drp via an animation page on Facebook, of all places. It was a trainee or apprentice role using a software I hadn’t used before- Cinema4D. I was invited for a tour and got to know the then, team of three. After a small chat it became apparent that I would need to learn Cinema4D if I wanted to stand a chance with my application. I continued to email the team with updates with my learning over the next month or so, and returned for an interview with a show reel of new work created in Cinema4D.

YAY! I got a trainee motion graphics designer position at drp.

I learnt more in my first six months as a trainee than I had in all my time at university! The education never ends, with every project, new skills or tools are required, and with software and plugin releases happening all the time you can never stop learning.

Three years later… I am a fully-pledged Motion Designer.

So would I tell current students this is the way to get into animation or motion graphics?… No.

No…you don’t need a degree. In my opinion try to take an apprenticeship or trainee position if possible. Learning resources are readily available online.

No… you don’t need to learn every piece of software going. This is probably impossible and completely unnecessary.

Yes… you need passion and drive, artistic talent and creative flair.

Yes… you need to be adaptable. It doesn’t matter if a studio uses different software if you are willing to adapt your knowledge and skills.

"Having these opportunities shaped my interest and career direction, as I found myself making most of my portfolio based on motion graphics."

Peter Richards – Head of Motion Graphics

When I was looking for university courses in the mid ‘90s home computers were just on the cusp of becoming usable in the art and design world. I was lucky that I had computers from a young age (zx Spectrum, Acorn Archimedes & a 386 pc among others), which I had used to create some pretty basic digital images on, but, I had no foresight that my love of art and design and a strong interest in computers would merge in the future. So, I ended up choosing a science degree and after graduating, I got a job working for a petrochemical company (which I found out about through a family connection). Even though my course at university wasn’t what I was most passionate about, I was surrounded by students from many fields, all keen to learn. Over this time computers got better, and it became apparent that digital art and design would become the norm. I now knew this is what I wanted to do as a career, so I vowed to learn it, and set myself the goal of being better than the students actually studying it. Even though I was first employed based on my science background, I offered to build the company I worked for a website, and design all their marketing and advertising material. Over time this became my core job, in which I did; web design, graphic design, filmed and edited videos, designed for PowerPoint and created 3D animations. Over my career I have specialised in motion graphics, but I still use the knowledge gained from all these other digital design disciplines I’ve worked in and wouldn’t change anything about my journey. Even picking the wrong university course ended up motivating me to do better work.

Further reading:

How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul

By Pete Richards – Head of Motion Graphics and Motion Graphics Team