Whitenoise is a creative design agency based in Northern Ireland, proud to shout about our team of skilled graphic designers, videographers, animators, project managers and more! No day is the same and every day brings something different to the table. But have you ever wondered what goes on behind our doors? Or what it takes to become one of our epic team?
Continuing our 'An Interview with..' series, we talk to Senior Digital Artist Ciaran McLaughlin.
Ciaran, what inspired you to become an animator and motion graphics artist?
I was first inspired to be an animator when I was studying my foundation diploma in Art & Design at the NWRC in Derry. The course was really fun as there were opportunities to try a bit of everything from Traditional painting to Digital design. I was in the middle of studying graphic design and had started to use Photoshop and was introduced to software called Flash. I started by making a short 5-second animation and I was hooked to keyframes.
You are currently the senior animation and motion graphics artist at Whitenoise. What does your typical day look like?
My typical day is always different depending on what type of animation projects are coming into the studio. Most days will start by chatting to the team and seeing what’s happening, responding to emails, going to client meetings and getting stuck into a project. I work mainly on explainers and supporting the film team with graphics for any of the film work coming into the studio.
What is the process of creating an animation?
The typical process of creating animation goes as follows:
1 - Consultation with the client and development of the initial idea
2 - Development of the script
3 - Development of concept visuals
4 - Client sign-off script and visual concept
5 - Development of storyboard
6 - Client sign-off storyboard and record script
7 - Create Animatic
8 - Develop the animation
9 - Send draft animation to our client
10 - Consultation with our client for feedback and sign-off
11 - Deliver final files to our happy and excited client
The process of creating animation can vary depending on each client’s needs and how the brief evolves. It’s not an exact science but the purpose is to meet the needs of the client and produce high-quality content for every project.
What type of brief or project do you enjoy working on the most?
I really enjoy projects where the client gives us total creative freedom, even telling us to ‘go mad and have fun with it’. From experience, I feel the most effective work I’ve created is when I've had the opportunity to experiement and had fun, as that’s where the ‘happy accidents’ happen and we create something unique.
What qualities do you think a person needs to become an animator?
To be an animator I think you have to be patient, understanding and willing to compromise. I see animation as somewhat similar to a team sport, you could easily shut yourself away and work in a vacuum but the real magic happens when we collaborate and learn new skills and approaches from each other.
What has been a memorable moment in your career?
A real memorable moment in my career would be the day when I was working on a Christmas marketing campaign for one of our clients which involved engaging with the local community to build elements of the animation. My team visited a primary school to teach kids how to make paper puppets. It was interesting experience, as I never really thought I’d find myself in that type of position, but creating animations for large clients opens up many opportunities for me. The kids were wonderful to work with and I smiled the entire day as they made me laugh with their little anecdotes and personalities.
What are your thoughts on specialisation versus generalisation (with regards to skills)?
I feel like my opinion on this subject, in particular, is always changing. When I started out in the industry I was very keen to learn and do anything that came my way. I was hungry to contribute in any way I could anything and learn everything. Consequently, over the years I’ve found it very easy to swap between different types of projects. In the past year I’ve found myself really concentrating on my 2D motion graphics/character animation skills, which I think has helped me develop a real strength and niche in my work. I have also signed up to a course starting in the summer in which I will be learning code and expressions to help me further develop my 2D work. Following that I'll be starting an advanced 3D course in late October.
In summary, I think it’s good to have a varied skills but perhaps it’s a good idea to really nail down your favourite areas and hone that specific skill until it is super strong. The most important piece of advice I can give is to keep learning and improving.
What influences are you currently fascinated by, and how do they feed into your work?
Currently I am obsessed with the work of a studio called Ordinary Folk, a Vancouver based animation studio. I really like to examine their work to the point of downloading their videos and going through them frame by frame to try figure out how they create each video. Studying their work over the past few years has inspired me and enabled me to change how I think about animation and movement.
Do you have any tips or tricks you can share with fledgling animators?
There is one piece of advice I would give to anyone learning After Effects or Cinema 4D and that is to familiarise yourself with the curve editor when you are animating. It’s easy to open animation software and add keyframes but unless you really analyse the motion, it won’t have a sense of natural movement.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
The best piece of advice I ever received was from my parents when I was having a particularly hard time at high school, and that was to always be myself. I remember this every day and somehow I think it has informed a lot of the biggest decisions I’ve made in my life. This advice even became a major feature of my artwork for the Whitenoise "Are You Adult?" Book below.
What is your personal motto?
With credit to my University buddy Ronan, my motto is ‘Adapt or Die’. It might seem a little dark, but it has many meanings and to me it is my inspiration and drive to learn.
To work with Ciaran or any of our fantastic creative team members please contact us at email@example.com give us a call and we'll grab a virtual brew!
We would love to hear from you.
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