The Rookie Awards has always been the best way to help digital artists get discovered without having to compete with professionals for attention, not to mention, win a mountain of prizes!

Over the years our entrants have been setting the standards of student artwork exceptionally high. They have walked away with industry recognition, mentorship, cool prizes and have connected with their peers and other industry leaders, globally.

Andreas Catucci tells us how winning the Rookie Awards, Rookie of the Year, 3D Motion Graphics Category, propelled his career and shares some invaluable advice for other aspiring artists on a similar journey.


Entering The Awards
Why did you decide to enter the Rookie Awards?

My Girlfriend showed it to me and encouraged me to give it a shot, so I did. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. I looked at the portfolios of the winners from the past year, and thought that it would be a good opportunity to make connections at the beginning of my career.

Describe some of the projects you included in your entry?

Nexon_17, a title sequence, is one of my biggest projects I have worked on so far. The project started out of a fascination for modern technology and Sci-Fi, but I knew from the start that I wanted to give it a twist.

The story is about A.I. taking over factories, producing drugs to control mankind to do their will. There is soon to be an uprising from the last survivors living shrouded in the undergrounds, awaiting their chance to overcome what is getting exponentially more powerful every second. I gave a lot of thought into how this dystopian world would look and feel, working within these creative boundaries and yet trying to give every shot a distinctive form of art was a challenge but I learned a lot from it.

Furthermore, I included some of my older work and render practices that I did to train my eye and my shading, lighting and rendering skills.

If you could enter again, what would you do differently?

Since I stumbled across the awards very closely to its deadline I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to piece together my entry and show some RnD. That’s what I would do differently if I could.

Even if you don't win [The Rookie Awards], you’ll always get industry level feedback for free.

How has the Rookie Awards helped you on your journey?

I’ve sent my Winners Certificate with applications, which was always a good point of discussion in my interviews. Furthermore, I got contacted by a few Studios asking me for work. I’d say I made a lot of contacts and got a lot of exposure out of winning.

What advice would you give to people thinking about entering?

Do it. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain from entering. It really helped me and even if you don't win, you’ll always get industry level feedback for free. I personally thing that including some RnD is always important.


The Journey

What made you want to work in creative industries?

I started doing 3D when I was 14, I always had a fascination for VFX and Games and Motion Graphics. I spent my time playing around making Intros on Youtube and small animations.

Describe your education journey that helped you become a professional artist?

I always had a lot of fun doing 3D, so after I finished school, I decided to study 3D Animation at FH Salzburg.  There I learned a lot about all the different aspects that are important about becoming an artist. I think that studying 3D isn’t necessary, not for technical or artistic skills, but rather for learning about how the industry works and to make your first connections with people with the same interests and goals as you.

How did you get your first big industry break?

I was looking for an Internship, so I just sent out a speculative application and got the amazing chance to work as an Intern at Panoply.  From there, I got a full-time offer after I finished my internship. I couldn’t be happier.

What advice would you give artists to help them break into the creative industry?

Sounds cheesy, but, create, a lot. Finding some sort of passion is key I think, the rest comes on its own. You really must want to invest a lot of time into this if you want to see progress. As my favorite 3D professor at FH Salzburg, Michael Großauer always says, “be persistent”. Other than this, I think finding people who enjoy doing this as much as you do and are way better than you that can give you some guidance and advice, is crucial.


On the Job

What is your role at Panoply?

Panoply small powerhouse Studio, specializing in, not only, but mostly Motion Design situated in London. I was working as an Intern for the past 6 Months but have now been offered a full-time position as Motion Designer.

What does a typical day look like for you?

After I get up, I have some breakfast and go straight to work. Depending on the state of production we often have a meeting in the morning, where we discuss, what needs to be done. I usually structure my day around the priorities that come out of the meeting. After work I usually doodle on some personal projects or play some Videogames.

Panoply has given me a lot of freedom in experimenting and learning the things that I am passionate about.

Describe some of the tasks you are given?

There isn’t a specific range of tasks that I am given, but I am most comfortable doing LookDev and RnD. More often I get assigned to complete shots rather than complete smaller tasks.

Your favorite experience while working is:

Well, working, of sorts! I really enjoy talking and discussing and learning from my very talented superiors, so I think the meetings are my favorite part of working. The most satisfying part is launching a project, by far.

An experience you’d prefer to forget about is:

Crashing software...after a few hours of work, without saving.

What software and tools do you use daily?

Houdini and Nuke, sometimes DaVinci for grading and editing. For rendering we use Octane and Redshift. For reference pictures and Moodboards we use PureRef and to keep track of Dailies we use FrameIO.

How do you manage to keep upskilling while working?

Usually work itself challenges me to dive deep and learn new techniques to solve the problem that I am given, but also when I do get stuck on a problem, there’s always someone to help me and give me advice. Panoply has given me a lot of freedom in experimenting and learning the things that I am passionate about.


What’s Next

How have things changed for you now that you’re working professionally?

I’ve gotten insight in how things “actually” work, what's important and what isn’t. I think I have a clearer vision of what I want to do and who I want to become.

What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself since starting your career?

The most important part is that you like what you do.

Where will we see you next? Where will the journey take you?

Hopefully on a convention having a nice chat with other 3D Enthusiasts. I know I took that question to literal but, yeah I don’t know yet exactly, but I do know that I enjoy doing what I am doing right now.


You can find more of Andrea's work on his website, Vimeo, Behance, Twitter and Instagram.

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