Animation Graduate Daniel: Working as a 3D Generalist Character Rigging

Animation graduate Daniel Springall came to JMC with the goal of being a 3D Animator, and has since worked at Animation Studio Pixel Zoo, entered into Melbourne Animation Festival, and has an internship at Cutting Edge. 

“I originally came into the course with goals of being a 3D animator, being able to make inanimate objects come alive was so appealing to me. After a couple of failed attempts, I worked out that I didn’t really have the patience for the process, and ultimately didn’t feel that animating was what I wanted to be doing. However, thanks to other classes at JMC, I soon discovered the process of rigging a character. Rather than animate a character, I was designing the way in which I wanted a character to bend and move. Being able to see one of my rigs come to life was, and still is, one of the coolest, and most rewarding things that I have been able to do.
Because of this I think the biggest thing that studying at JMC helped prep me for the industry was giving me an environment to work in that I could use to get a taste of all areas of the 3D pipeline. This enabled me to figure out exactly what it was that I was both good at, and enjoyed. Once you find what it is you're passionate about, there’s no stopping you!”

After graduation, Daniel got work at Pixel Zoo after someone put a call out for 3D generalists on Facebook. “I was super lucky that it just so happened that this person was an old student of one of the lecturers from JMC whom then passed on my information. Thankfully they were looking for someone with a 3D generalist skill set who was competent at character rigging which fitted me perfectly.
My duties at Pixel Zoo primarily consisted of rigging up the characters for a new pilot they were working on. The rigs on any sort of series based content tend to become very standardised so as a rigger you take the previous rigs and use them as a template for future characters. I was lucky however, that this was a pilot for a new series and so the characters where new to them. Because of this, I had the opportunity to design the rigs from the ground up which was super exciting.
During the last couple of weeks, I also had the opportunity to create some plugins/pipeline tools, in an effort to help make some of their menial tasks a bit more efficient. I found that it’s one thing to work on exercises and little projects at home and on your own, but to have had the opportunity to work on a tangible pipeline problem with a clear goal was such an enjoyable experience.
As with any sort of smaller studio, I also did a smattering of other 3D generalist type tasks such as modelling bits and pieces, as well as setting up some models to be textured. I think more than anything, the experience I gained form working at Pixel Zoo showed me two things. Firstly, that the skills I have been working on and cultivating are on par with others in the industry, which is a great confidence booster. And secondly, it’s confirmed that what I have chosen as a future career is exactly what I want to be doing!

The internship at Cutting Edge also came about through a JMC lecturer (turns out what they tell you about networking is a thing!). Admittedly interning for such a big company is a tad daunting, and I’m not 100% sure what to expect with the opportunity but one way or the other I believe the experience I gain will be invaluable.”

Daniel Springall - 3D Generalist Showreel 2017 from Daniel Springall on Vimeo.

Daniel has also entered his 3.5-minute animated short film into the Melbourne International Film Festival, entitled “Caesura Affettuoso”. It follows a young boy trapped in an unpleasant life, as he attempts to escape his problems with the help of music.

“It’s a concept that I had been working on for over a year prior to starting production on it. More than anything, it was just a story that I was super passionate about and wanted to get out of my head. I never really intended for the film to be entered at any festival. I am super proud that other people consider it good enough to be worth showing and can’t thank the lecturers at JMC enough for helping to shape the film into what it ended up becoming.
My favourite thing about JMC would have to be the people. Being able to spend time around passionate and creative people was awesome. Combining that with lecturers who were willing to answer the thousands of questions I had, even those that really didn’t have anything to do with the class content we were working on, made for a fantastic environment to learn in.”

 Daniel’s advice

“Work out what you want to do and never stop learning! The 3D industry, as with any technical industry, will always be a growing and changing one, with new techniques and concepts changing the way in which we as artists create things. Being able to stay on top of these changes will make you a more employable individual. So, while you’re at university you’re in a perfect opportunity to try everything and anything, so do your best to take advantage of that while you still can.”

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