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How I got a job in visual effects and animation

Amy Davis, 33, lives in Vancouver, Canada and works at Image Engine. She has previously worked at Industrial Light and Magic as a digital compositor in visual effects (VFX) and animation.

Ever since I saw The Lion King as an eight-year-old, I’ve wanted to work in animation.

As a girl coming from Portsmouth, the dream seemed far-fetched to say the least. But here I am, 11 years into my dream job as a compositor for VFX (visual effects) and feature animation.

What I studied

I worked hard at school, getting top grades in art and graphic design. I then went on to college to do my A-Levels in fine art, graphic design and film studies. The film course sparked my love of filmmaking and I was lucky enough to get into one of the top art institutes in the world for animation.

Three long years of hard work and a lot of fun gave me the animation degree required to get a foot in the door at Framestore – one of the world’s top VFX studios – and I rose up the ranks to my current role as a digital compositor.

What do I do?

My job involves taking all the elements from filmmaking – footage shot on set, animation, lighting – and combining them to make everything look real to the audience.

When you see ‘behind-the-scenes’ documentaries, I’m the one who replaces that green soundstage with an alien city backdrop, or gets Harry Potter to sit on his broom and fly across the Quidditch pitch.

Highlights of the job

Over the years my job has taken me across the world working with top studios, including ticking off that dream eight-year-old Amy had of working for Disney as part of Industrial Light and Magic.

I’ve worked on two Harry Potter movies, Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, King Kong, Gravity and many more.

I’ve also been lucky enough to have won – along with my team – two Oscars and two Baftas which is amazing and something I would never have thought possible as a teenager.

My most recent movie – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – won Best Animated Feature at the Oscars in February and was my first feature animation project after working on live-action films for most of my career.

It was an amazing experience to learn new things and use innovative technology to achieve a never-seen-before kind of movie.

Work hard and aim high

I hope that my story can inspire other girls to dream big and aim for that top spot if you have a dream career go for it. Work hard, use your talents and you will succeed.

I wish I could time travel back to the 90s and tell myself one day my name would be in those credits on the screen.

If you love what you do and have a passion for it, you will go far. I love my job and wouldn’t swap it for the world.

Useful links

For more information on Industrial Light and Magic, visit: www.ilm.com/

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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