Behind The Scenes at Weta Digital - A Junior's Perspective
Hello everyone, my name is Rafael Gonzalez Quinones, and I’m bloody glad to have the opportunity to share my experience during my Weta Digital Internship thus far. I’ve been with Weta since August 2015 courtesy of winning an internship experience through The Rookies 2015.
“It’s awesome seeing worldwide talent and worldwide hard work being put into the same craft we all enjoy.”
The set up for The Rookies competition is great because it’s really accessible. Students submit their portfolio of work in a showreel; everyone gets a prize for entering, and everyone’s work is exposed to the various studios around the world offering internships. It’s great being involved purely just to check out what students on the other side of the world are producing while they’re studying. It’s awesome seeing worldwide talent and worldwide hard work being put into the same craft we all enjoy.
The internship prizes are region locked, meaning me being a Kiwi I was gunning for one of the available internships in Oceania. With the New Zealand CG scene being relatively small, it meant I just about knew all the people I was competing against personally. Out of the three finalists in the running for the Weta internship, I was the fortunate winner. There’s no feeling quite like checking your emails and being notified you’ve been handed the opportunity of a lifetime.
The Beginning of the End of the Beginning
As a recent grad with no professional experience behind me, I was nervous, terrified and excited as hell. I worked my last shift at my local Pak’n’Save (supermarket) on a Sunday, and a week later I found myself in a new city and interning at Weta Digital no less. In the space of a week, I jumped ship from my trusty part-time job to the doorstep of my dream job. And that is where the story begins.
I recall my first day vividly. I caught the bus to work on a classic wet and windy morning (which didn’t deter my excitement in the least). I arrived at the front office of the Wexford building (one of the many buildings Weta functions across Miramar) and met with Byron, a member of the relocations team.
I was half an hour early, and we ended up chilling and chit chatting. Browsing through the books in the office showcasing the various movies the studio has worked and thinking I’ll soon be part of the team was an awesome start to the intern experience.
After running through general housekeeping rules, how to’s and getting my PC account set up, I was transferred to the animation building which I would be calling home.
The general vibe of the animation building is real welcoming. It’s simple on the outside, and well taken care of on the inside. I met Garrick on the first day there, who was a winner in 2014, and he took me around the various rooms in the building introducing me to the animators. It was real cool to see how the various desks and wall spaces allocated to people are decorated. Nearly everyone has figurines of their favourite characters, movie posters, animation books and personal drawings decorating their
Nearly everyone has figurines of their favourite characters, movie posters, animation books and personal drawings decorating their work spaces. There’s something real comforting about entering a workplace where everyone is comfortable enough to be themselves and share what they enjoy.
All about Alvin
I was quite fortunate to join the Weta Digital team at a time when they had a unique project in production. I was allocated to work on Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Road Chip, a child-oriented comedy very much unlike the photoreal, VFX-heavy work Weta has a reputation for producing. The project had its own style, it was fun, had a great team and made the initial experience a lot easier.
“It was the best experience for us juniors, just sitting alongside many successful animators, hearing the various awesome movies they have worked on and getting into the banter is nothing short of awesome.”
Soon after I joined, we had a number of other juniors join the team, and together we formed the Alvin fix team. We were all fresh-faced juniors at the very first step of our careers, and it was the greatest experience ripping into the work and learning alongside each other. For us fix team juniors, this turned out to be really rewarding. We had the opportunity to work on minor tasks across various shots, checking out all the awesome work being completed and polishing it through to 110%.
I’d encourage students to participate in The Rookies at the drop of a dime.
It was the best experience for us juniors, just sitting alongside many successful animators, hearing the various awesome movies they have worked on and getting into the banter is nothing short of awesome.
I’d encourage students to participate in the Rookie Awards at the drop of a dime. I have friends I’ve studied with who have also reaped the benefits of participating in different ways, whether through winning, exposing their work or just getting into contact with the right people to be informed. It’s a good platform for rewarding effort, so future entrants should definitely keep this in mind as they pump through the heavy work load of producing CGI.
The experience so far has been challenging, and great for my development as a professional. It’s not always easy managing intense work loads in a multi-faceted group environment, but Weta handles it really well.
It sure feels like the people here are the beating heart behind the movie magic and I’m glad I get to experience working in the industry alongside the Weta family. Cheers.