Tell us about your role at The Mill, what does it involve on a day to day basis? How did you get into the role?
I studied digital animation so my first role was actually as a 3D artist in a small animation studio. I’d wear many hats, juggling being an artist, managing projects and overseeing them creatively! Moving to The Mill as a full time producer, I have passionately dedicated my time to animation, having gained experience first hand of the full process. My day to day is a combination of matching new project opportunities with our amazing director talent, curating animation dream teams around them, pitching and managing animation projects from start to finish.
Why do you think people are drawn to animation during this time, not only practically, but emotionally? Is it a comfort, does it take us back to our childhood?
The wonderful thing about animation is its ability to transport you inside the beautifully designed animated world. I think people are drawn to animation during this time more than ever because it’s pure escapism, just like reading a good book or listening to an amazing piece of music. As creators we have reached a point where we can replicate real life in CG so convincingly, aiming for technical perfection isn’t out of reach. Animation is a way to explore a style that is perhaps completely unexpected, uniquely crafted or otherworldly.
What’s your favourite thing about working with animation?
I really love being a part of the journey from the first script and drawings on a piece of paper, all the way through to delivery of a beautiful animated film. Seeing the design process, the variety of explorations and possibilities, little details and facial expressions is a wonder to me every time. It’s all about gradually seeing characters brought to life.
What are the 3 favourite animation projects you’ve worked on since joining The Mill?
I’ve been lucky to work on a variety of animation projects, from cel animation, full 3D animation and live-action/animation hybrids! Just 3 of my favourites include Three’s Free your Puggerfly, Daisie’s Launch Film and the latest Apex Legends Fortune’s Favor Launch Trailer (below).
If you had to pick a favourite character, who would it be and why?
I really loved the design process for the Puggerfly in Three’s ‘Free your Puggerfly’. What’s not to love about a butterfly crossed with a pug?!
The world we designed was a combination of colourful FX and emojis mixed with the realism of the forest. In keeping with this hybrid look and feel, we took inspiration from real pugs who are really just utterly ridiculous creatures (in the best possible way). YouTube was a goldmine for clips of bum shuffles, stair hops and air swimming which gave us hours of references for the animators, resulting in an adorable, but believable flying pug.
You were part of the team on the latest Apex trailer that’s just launched, what were you most excited about?
Having really admired the previous APEX cinematics by The Mill, I always wanted to get involved and produce one as I absolutely love the style of animation, the dynamic combination of 3D world cameras with the painterly, almost cel animated style backgrounds and textures.
What have you learned about the way you work during lockdown?
I feel like the lockdown has taught us to really embrace the video call! Most of my latest project was produced under lockdown – our incredible engineering team managed to move over 60 artists from the office to working from home in a matter of hours. I’m already a sucker for an amazing spreadsheet or project management software, so what has been brilliant is having a huge team fully communicating through dedicated project channels with all information in one place in addition to video calls and instant messaging, making it a very collaborative process. As working with clients and teams across time-zones are becoming more and more the norm this has just encouraged us to embrace even more tools to help streamline how we collaborate.
You’re also an illustrator in your spare time. What inspires you? How does it influence what you do at The Mill?
I’m inspired by the beauty of Epping forest where I live; nature and wildlife. I started drawing not too long after I could walk and still never go a day without doodling. For me it’s all about escapism and sharing the outcome, rather than trying to create something to fit a specific brief. I love being able to bring an artistic eye into what I do daily as a Producer at The Mill, jumping into a treatment or concept and sometimes seeing a little detail of mine included in a finished ad.
You can check out Rebecca’s illustrations on Instagram @becca.doodles.