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Morten Jæger talks about his internship experience at The Mill

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My name is Morten Jæger and with the help of CG Student Awards I secured an internship at The Mill in London last September.

I've been doing 3D since I was 15 years old and ever since then I've wanted to do this professionally. This internship was a great opportunity for me to get out there and work with professionals and experience what this industry is all about.

 

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Personal work

 

I was really amazed by the work of the student reels submitted to the CG Student Awards 2014. It therefore came as quite a surprise when I was chosen for the internship at The Mill. I think a fascinating thing about the Awards is to see the diversity in art and skill of people from around the world, and from the different schools. It became a kind of a friendly competition which only makes you want to improve and submit something even better for next year. So I went to London a little early just to get acquainted with the place and get settled. During my first week, I was just trying to adjust to a new city. I studied at The Animation Workshop which is in a very quiet and rural town in Denmark.

Going to London was a big change, but a very exciting one. I think one of the most amazing things about London and this industry is that you have so many talented artists in one place. It's an amazing opportunity to learn from your peers.

 

I think a very important part of an internship is to communicate.

 

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Personal work

 

When I first came to The Mill they had just moved to new facilities and they were absolutely amazing. It was a very organic working environment where I got shifted around a lot. This means that you never really grow stale, because you are exposed to new people constantly. This also forced me to get to know a lot of people at The Mill. Like any job, the first couple of days were slow, come into work, fill out paperwork and get acquainted with the people I was to work with.
Before any of the work began, we talked about what I wanted to do. I outlined that modeling, sculpting and texturing were my main areas of interest, but if they wanted to give me some shading and lighting I would be up for the task. Even though I prefer modeling, and if I could I would just do that. I realize that there might not always be an opportunity for it. I think it's a good idea to at least show a bit of versatility.

 

Going To Work

Typically I would come to work and start out by eating breakfast. The Mill had an impressive lineup of cereal and different kinds of freshly baked pastries. It was quite nice not having to worry about it at home, just go to work and prepare something delicious. I would typically talk to some of the other artists and get to know people during this time. After that, I would talk through the day's work with my lead and then from there start work. Because of the friendly working environment it never really became too stressful and people weren't afraid to crack jokes. At lunch, we would either eat somewhere around Fitzrovia or bring lunch back to The Mill and enjoy it at the loft.

 

Don't be afraid to ask questions, that's why you're there.

 

My first job was working on a Honda commercial, where I had to do a lot of modeling and sculpting. It was a pretty extensive job where we had to to a lot of replacement. So very early on they gave something cool to work on. They didn't just give me pretend jobs, I got to work on Honda car, BBC etc. It's really satisfying to walk away with a bunch of cool shots for your reel. I also had the opportunity to do a bit of texturing which was a nice break from modeling.

 

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 Honda commercial

I think a very important part of an internship like this is to communicate. Let them know you're not a one-trick pony. Of there's something else in your skill set you would like to improve, let them know. It's a tough industry, no way around that, but you have to keep in mind that if you never ask for something you won't get it.

 

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 BBC commercial

 

I think one of the things I enjoyed most about my stay was the fact that I worked on real jobs with the rest of the company. I think it gives you a better view on the industry instead of just being put on a side job. This way you get to experience what it's actually like, and you get a better understanding of how to work with other people.

 

I tried to be very proactive and seek out information on my own. I believe that if you really want to succeed and be remembered, that's something you have to do yourself. People won't come to you with all the answers you've never asked. It can seem like a daunting task at first but the more you do it, the more comfortable you'll become. Get to know the people around you. They are probably not going to know who you are, or why you are there. Getting to know them will help you improve as well as giving you a good working relationship. This really became apparent in later jobs. As I worked with more people, I started getting more comfortable with the company as a whole. This meant that I would not only model but also come with design changes and suggestions for some of the characters we were working on. And at the core this is really what made my stay at The Mill a really great one.

 

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 Personal work

 

The Journey so far

I've been working as a freelancer while I was attending The Animation Workshop in Denmark. This doesn't always allow for much communication with an entire team as you most of the time just report to one person. It's a different challenge when you actually have to work together with other people, but it's a completely different experience. It's great to be able to share in the love for the field with so many others, and The Mill is a great place to do so.

 

One thing I've learned over the past years is that the best way for anyone to improve is to share the knowledge. Together with a friend of mine, Henning Sanden, I started the website FlippedNormals.com. We wanted to focus on quality CG tutorials that people of all levels could follow along with. It's an interesting venture, and great to hear back from the community. I even talked to some of the people I worked with at The Mill about it. And getting appreciation for work like this is really one of the best things ever.

 

At the moment I'm currently working as a modeler a Cinesite, also located in the heart of London. It's a bit different working on film compared to commercial and I guess it really depends what you're into the most. I would by no means say that one is better than the other, I think it's important to try out as many fields as you can to truly find the one that's right for you.

 

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In Conclusion

I think the best advice I can give is to be involved. Don't be afraid to ask questions, that's why you're there. That's goes for everything, whether you're an intern or just started on your first job. Be engaged because they would rather that you seek out new challenges and show commitment. An internship is really a fantastic experience and opportunity. Not just to get a grasp of what this line of work is like, but also working with people who are better than you. They have plenty of things to teach if you're willing to listen.

 


 

Morten Jæger

Modeler at Cinesite
London, UK

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