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Boxed In No More: Unleashing Your Creative Genius in the Studio

Imagine this: You've just secured a coveted role at a major studio, a testament to your unwavering dedication and tireless efforts. As time passes, you settle into a comfortable rhythm with your team, familiarizing yourself with the studio's workflow. Eager to make a lasting impression, you begin searching for ways to work more efficiently—naturally striving to excel.


Your increased productivity does not go unnoticed. The lead and production team are constantly deliberating on who should handle the next shot or character assignment. One day, you come across a captivating creature or character and express your desire to work on it. Unfortunately, you are politely informed that the opportunity has been given to a colleague. Understandably, this leaves you disheartened, though you remain grateful to have a job.


Over time, you notice a pattern in the shots assigned to you. You consistently find yourself animating "turns and idles," while yearning to tackle the thrilling challenge of sync animation. Bursting with creative ideas, you feel as though your talents are not fully utilized. Despite your love for the job, you are an artist who needs to express yourself. However, the demanding production schedule seems to stifle that urge.

Essentially, you find yourself boxed in.



Let me recount a personal story from my early career. In 2018, I joined Creative Assembly, a major studio working on AAA games. It was a dream come true, and I couldn't have been happier. I was fortunate to be part of the Total War Warhammer 3 team. The camaraderie among my fellow animators and the guidance from my two Leads were exceptional, making it a pleasure to work alongside them again in the future.


As I settled into my role, I noticed a recurring trend: I kept being assigned "War Machines" to animate. Before I knew it, I had become known as "The War Machine Guy." This frustrated me, as I yearned to work on the captivating creatures instead. However, those opportunities consistently went to another animator who, objectively speaking, was more skilled than I was.

Admittedly, she was a phenomenal animator, and it made perfect sense to entrust the most spectacular characters to the best in the field. We were crafting an AAA game to be enjoyed by millions, so I understood the rationale behind the decisions.


But understanding didn't erase the disappointment. I mustered the courage to approach my Lead and requested more challenging assignments. In the most respectful and honest manner, he explained that I needed to prove my capabilities before being entrusted with such tasks.

This left me in a perplexing predicament: How could I demonstrate my skills without being given the chance to do so?


That day, I returned home frustrated. However, I deeply appreciated my Lead's straightforwardness. It's always better to receive honest feedback, enabling us to adapt and improve, rather than having our feelings coddled.

The simple truth was that I wasn't good enough yet—or at least, I hadn't shown that I was. My Lead, however, provided me with the solution. He said, "Jerome, I faced the same challenge in my career at one point. I suggest you work on a personal project at home to showcase your capabilities to me and the team." Although not an exact quote, his words carried that essence.


And so I did just that. In fact, I went above and beyond. Over the summer of 2020, I dedicated three months to create an entirely new animation showreel. Channeling my frustration into my work, I produced five remarkable pieces, some of which still feature in my showreel. Seeking feedback, I approached my Lead and other respected animators, diligently considering their suggestions. I didn't blindly accept their input; I probed further, understanding the reasoning behind their recommendations.


This approach ensured that my shots not only became exceptional but also raised the bar for my own abilities. When I presented the culmination of my summer efforts to the team—including my Leads—their impressed reactions earned me the respect I desired. I felt elated.


From that point onward, I started receiving more stimulating assignments. That's how I ended up animating the Troglodon (the magnificent green dinosaur featured in my reel), and I delivered an outstanding result. Working on it was a blast—my creative energy surged, and I successfully freed myself from the confining box.

After a few months, a recruiter approached me based on the strength of my new reel.


This is how I landed a role as a senior Animator at Hexworks, where I currently work on creating boss characters for Lords of the Fallen.


So, my message to you is this: If you find yourself being confined to a box, don't accept it passively. Doing so will only make you miserable. Take the initiative and ask your lead or supervisor how you can improve and be entrusted with more exciting tasks. Invest time in personal projects, ensuring they shine brightly!


I promise you one of two outcomes: Either you will break free from the box, or you will develop the skills needed to liberate yourself. Ultimately, remember that it's your career, and you have the power to shape its trajectory. Be proactive and take charge.


I sincerely hope my story resonates with you and provides guidance on your own journey.


Stay passionate,


Jerome

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