From Game Development to Animating for the AFL.

Hi, I’m Robyn Dixon. JMC Game Development Graduate, and digital content designer at the AFL.robyndixon.jpg

Making the decision to focus on a specific career path can be an incredibly daunting task, and one which I’m certain a lot of students relate to. Graduating from JMC at the beginning of 2016, I was uncertain which discipline to pursue, or even which facet of the animation and games industry I wanted to be involved in.

Throughout my studies, I developed an interest in a range of creative skills, including animation, modelling, concept art and illustration, as well as an appreciation for the structure and organisation associated with the role of a producer. Having an interest in multiple disciplines, I found it difficult to pinpoint a specific ‘dream job’ which combined the skillsets I wanted to pursue.

Soon after graduating I was fortunate enough to be able to secure freelance work as a colourist for Moose, a UI/UX designer for Appster, and as a textile and merchandise designer for Australian company, Restless. Through these projects, I discovered that more than any one discipline, I loved learning new skills, and the challenge of facing new and varied briefs on a daily basis. 

Through JMC’s networking opportunities I was able to connect with the Kids Market Development and Innovation Lead at the AFL, who was leading a small team focused on digital growth, development, and new audience. The aim of this project was initially to implement a Multiplatform digital rollout which would target kids who were not traditionally interested in AFL, or Auskick. Instead, the focus was on incorporating the fun and imagination of pop culture, with the community of football, to create a unique environment which appealed to an entirely new and diverse audience. 

Joining this project at the ground level, meant I was able to collaborate with a very small team on content which allowed a huge amount of creative freedom, scope for growth and the probability of vast exposure. Whether you are a fan or not, AFL is consistently ranked the most popular spectator sport within Australia, and with over 24 million people currently residing in our country, the community associated with the game is enormous. 

My role at the AFL is unique in that it is multidisciplinary, I work as an animator, motion graphic designer, video editor, photographer, illustrator, and graphic designer. It is predominantly split between two main areas, AFL Kids, and AFL Women’s. Both aspects of my workload are fun, and challenging, but entirely different from each other. So, not only does the creative discipline I’m employing for each project vary, but the briefs also drastically differ from day to day. 

Being an AFL Kids designer is all about creating fun, engaging, out of the box, content. An average week can involve anything from stop motion, on or off-site video shoots, post production and editing, motion graphics, illustration, 2d animation, or pre-production and storyboarding for upcoming projects. The schedule we work to is for the most part very flexible. I am encouraged to push for projects that I would like to create or collaborate on, and given the freedom to upskill in areas of interest to me. 

The other component of my job is content creation for AFLW, which has been an incredible learning experience. Throughout the lead up to, and duration of the inaugural season, I was given the opportunity to create a large portion of the AFLW social media content, digital marketing, and event specific content. This included collaborating on the 60 second countdown video which was played at the Metricon stadium, in front of over 16,000 people before the grand final began. 

Having a general lack of interest in sports, working as a creative at the AFL was never a career path I had considered, nor did I have any idea of the potential scope, or creativity a role in the sports field could provide. However, it has been, and continues to be an incredibly enjoyable, and challenging experience. I can definitely credit JMC not only for providing me with the networking opportunities which resulted in my involvement with this project, but also for guiding me as I developed the skills and confidence necessary to succeed within this role. 

Prior to studying at JMC I had completed a bachelor degree at a large university in Adelaide, majoring in animation and sub majoring in graphic design. Despite the knowledge I gained throughout my studies, I struggled to find work, lacked confidence and had limited networking opportunities within the creative industries. 

JMC provided an environment where I was taught by industry professionals who were invested in my success. The community nature of the campus meant I had access to the mentorship, and support I needed to be able to find my feet in the industry. 

Many of the skills I employ in my current role, were learnt or refined during my time at JMC. The curriculum is structured to incorporate principles and techniques transferable to real-world situations, an important step in preparing students for the transition into a career in the creative industries. 

Assignments and projects allow students to experience working autonomously, but also collaboratively as part of a group, a skill which has proved essential to me being able to produce and create content in my current role. Understanding how to work cohesively with people, and recognising their strengths is a very valuable thing to learn. So too is developing the ability to work autonomously, respond appropriately to briefs, meet deadlines, and manage your time. These were perhaps some of the most beneficial skills I was able to master at JMC, and are some which I employ daily, working on projects which involve consistent deadlines and varying collaborative environments. 

To some extent in any course you study, you will get out what you put in. The parts of JMC that were invaluable to me were the teachers’ and course coordinator’s commitment to my future, their wealth of industry knowledge, and the networking opportunities that were available to me. Studying at JMC, the framework for success is provided, the rest is up to you. 

Find out more about studying Game Development or Animation. 

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