Ever wondered about a career change? Jon, a layout supervisor here at A Productions, dreamt of working in animation for many years, before landing a role in the sector.
Jon, 36, had previously been a project coordinator and CAD (computer-aided design) technician for a telecommunications and civil engineering company for 12 years. However, he had always had an interest in animation.
“When I was a child, I would do stop motion animation with clay models. Then at university, I was taught how to use Adobe Flash, as part of my design and technology degree, but I used it to do my own animations in my spare time”, says Jon.
Many years later, Jon was still hankering after a career in animation. He followed all the local animation studios on Twitter and one day spotted a Twitter post advertising one of A Productions’ free Toon Boom animation software courses.
He applied and later received a call back about a role as a layout supervisor. It’s now just over a year since Jon joined A Productions.
So, what does the job of a layout supervisor entail? “We interpret the storyboard and animatic, which is effectively an animated storyboard, to provide the final camera framing and character/prop layout to reflect the directors’ intentions”, explains Jon.
“We create layout references, ready for the next step in review process. Then, we prepare the Toon Boom scene files, ready for the animators. We import the character rigs, which are the digital puppets that are to be animated, into the scenes. We position them in the right location, ensuring that there is continuity between scenes and that everything is scaled consistently. For example, if a character wearing a bag is it carried out throughout?”
Jon started out working on Series 2 of multi-award-winning show, JoJo and Gran Gran, and is now working on Series 3. JoJo & Gran Gran is produced by BBC Studios Kids & Family Productions in association with A Productions for CBeebies.
“For years I wanted to be in this industry. I’m really pleased I was able to make the change. If you’re considering a career change like me, you don’t necessarily need to have done animation previously, but you do need lots of enthusiasm.”
What does Jon like about the role? “I enjoy working to busy deadlines. It’s a fast-paced turnaround. I also enjoy working with directors and liaising with other departments. I like having an eye for detail – there were a lot of transferrable skills from my old job in terms of the technical aspect.”
Jon’s three-year-old daughter is also a fan of his work. “She watches JoJo and Gran Gran. It’s quite funny to work on the show and then when episodes are released, she wants to watch them. I quite like that. It’s rewarding.”