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Henning Sandon won an Internship and kicked off his career working with the incredible team at Framestore in London. Henning talks to us about his 8 week summer internship working on some kick ass projects
My name is Henning and I was this years modelling intern at Framestore, which was a great ride! The internship is a 8 week programme over the summer from July to the end of August, where the company pays for your accommodation (very central, 6 min walking from the studio) and they give you a salary. Framestore has been one of the studios I’ve wanted to work at for years and years and when I got the email that I had been accepted, there was definitely a little bit of happy-dancing going on.
Before my internship, I studied for three years at The Animation Workshop in Denmark (which I cannot recommend enough, by the way) and I was planning on relocating to London indefinitely. Accepting the Framestore Internship would be a great way to get my foot in the door, I figured.
During my stay, I lived in the same building as 9 other Framestore interns and the same amount from MPC and we had a great social connection. I’m really glad there were more interns around from various fields, as it’s definitely nice to have several other people going through the same as yourself. Getting to know them was also great, as I learnt a lot about the other disciplines, such as FX and look-dev. Also, it’s not too shabby to have friends around as well.
On my first day, we were all introduced to the recruitment and HR crew, who would take care of us during our 8-week stay. Shortly afterwards, I was introduced to my assigned mentor, Chris Cook, who would help me with whatever I needed help with. Having somebody who was officially appointed to keep an eye on me was really nice, as the beginning phases can be really hard.
I spent the first hours trying to get somehow familiar with the pipeline, before being thrown into Dracula Untold, which was a fun ride! When you’re completely fresh to a company as I was at the time, you’re so far out of your comfort zone, which feels terrifying. This is something you simply have to get used to: Being comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you’re doing personal projects and something is too hard, you can always cop out and simplify it. In production however, thats not an option. If you don’t know how to accomplish a certain task, you better figure it out. This puts you in a situation of constant growth, which can be a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, but in the end you become stronger.
As the weeks passed I got slowly more comfortable with the pipeline and the overall Framestore workflow; after about 3-4 weeks I felt I could work with the speed I was expected to without being crippled by technical pipeline issues. There’s simply no way around this: You will be slow in the beginning as there are so many proprietary tools you cannot learn online. Also learning to use Linux took some time. I had never touched it before, and it’s a different way of working.
Most of my time at Framestore was spent doing props for Paddington, which was a new and interesting challenge. I had to work a lot with Agisoft’s Photoscan to make my life easier. Most of the modelling was done in Maya, with additional modelling done in Modo and sculpting done in ZBrush. The interesting thing about working in a production doing only discipline is that you become very fast and efficient rather quickly. When I’ve been doing personal projects, I really don’t spend all the time modelling and it’s very on and off. Sometimes you’ll spend weeks just lighting, meaning your modelling skills stay the same. However, in a production, you’re modelling 8 hours straight for a minimum of 5 days a week and you soon become very comfortable with it.
Next to my professional work, I was also required to do a personal project. Framestore has an interest in keeping their interns if they can, but it can be hard to really evaluate how skilled somebody is judging from the production work, as sometimes the props I did were rather simple. By giving somebody a personal project next to the studio work, you’re getting a more honest view of what the personal is capable of. While I didn’t have much spare time during my internship I was still somehow able to squeeze the project out. I wanted to do something which was outside my comfort zone and I figured that a beautiful woman would be a huge challenge. You can see the final result below.
I think one of the biggest advantage of the internship is that you get the foot in the door in the industry. Getting to know people who work in your field is an incredible resource to have available and getting a job in other studios can become significantly easier. Unfortunately, Framestore wasn’t able to extend my contract due to the fact that they didn’t require modellers at the time. However, before my internship contract ended, I already had a job offer from MCP as a modeller, which I happily accepted. I have while writing this already worked at MPC for two weeks. It’s impossible to tell if I would’ve got the job at MPC without the Framestore internship, but I know with 100 percent certainty that it made it easier. The skills and contacts I got during my internship was definitely a huge help.
One of the key things I’ve learnt is also how tiny the CG industry actually is. I’ve encountered so many examples of people being connected in the most obscure way. If you step one connection out, you have mapped almost the entire industry.
Out of all the amazing prizes in the CG Student Award, I feel that winning an internship is the best one; I'm incredibly fortunate to have got one. Unlike a fancy graphics card or other cool gadgets, an internship at one of the big London houses is a maybe exactly what you need to break into the industry, possibly saving you years of frustration or skipping the step of being a runner.
I would definitely recommend an internship at Framestore to anybody who would be interested! As I said before, it’s a paid position where they cover your accommodation, which is a significant expense when you life in London.
I had a great time at Framestore and I made good friends there. It really helped me get into the industry and for that, I’m forever grateful.
A huge thanks to the CG Student Award for all the splendid work they have done for students around the world!"