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MY FIRST INTERNSHIP

INTRODUCTION
The best thing about being an Electronic Media student is the fact that we are equipped to survive in a wide variety of fields- script writing, cinematography, direction, set designing, radio production, graphic designing, VFX, Animation and more. This is a huge advantage as we can adapt into any media related work environment. So the arenas open to us in terms of interning and freelancing is colossal. Advertisement agencies, Production Houses, VFX and Animation studios, Newspapers, Film sets, radio stations and even corporate setups are some areas that an EM student can intern at.

WHERE I INTERNED
I completed my first internship through the summer of 2018(April-May), at the Academy (Oscar) Awards Winning company, DNeg (Double Negative) in its Mumbai branch. Based in London, this MNC has a very vast network and works mostly on Hollywood and Bollywood projects. I interned in the Animation department. Here, I worked my way through the entire pipeline and spent most of the time observing the artists, managers and creative supervisors at work.

ANIMATION PIPE LINE

1. CONCEPT ART (Story line, character specifications, rough sketches and story boarding given by the clients)

2. 3D MODELLING (Character and prop building)

3. RIGGING (skeleton, joints and skinning of assets)

4. TEXTURING (Painting/Projecting a texture on the UV Unwrapped models)

5. LAYOUT/BLOCKING (Camera positions, posing, framing, shots, placement of assets etc.)

6. ANIMATION (expressions and movement of assets)

7. SHF(Shot Finalisation)- penetration and placement correction- (caching and publishing)

8. CHF (Simulation and creation of clothes, hair and fur on animals)

9. FX (Creation of realistic/cartoony effects like explosions)

10. LIGHTING (Shadows and lights)

11. RENDERING (Maya files to images- .exr extensions)

12. COMPOSITING (Continuity, special effects, adding all layers together)

13. EDITING (Final compilation)

ABOUT THE INTERNSHIP
The work space was very casual and laid back. All the artists were very down to earth and helped me out with anything and everything. It was an enthralling experience to sit through all the departments under the CG division. It was a very eye opening period of time, as I sat through the entire pipeline and understood how an animation film was created from scratch.

Through this period of one month, I realized that I had a flair for 3D Modelling and Animation. I modelled an individual house and learnt the 12 basic rules of animation. I proceeded to use the Graph Editor on the Maya software and made a bouncing ball die down, in various instances. I also animated facial and bodily movements of a pre-rigged character. Apart from Modelling and Animation, I was given various models to UV Unwrap on Maya, for texturing. In the rigging department, I learnt the basics and did a bit of coding and made cog works rotate and a dustbin top open on command. Although they were very basic, I understood a lot and have been working on home projects in Maya since the internship.

I also had the opportunity to interact with physically challenged artists at Prime Focus World and the experience was very moving. I was very inspired by the batch’s passion towards animation.

I had the opportunity to shadow artists at the VFX division too, but unfortunately it was for a very brief period of time. I was able to look at old shots of movies like Avengers: Infinity War at the Lighting department. Being a Marvel fan, I had a big fan-girl moment.

This Internship helped me grow as a person as I was on my own and had to utilize my opportunity as effectively as possible. All in all, I had a beautiful time at DNEG, Mumbai.

USEFULNESS OF AN INTERNSHIP FOR AN ELECTRONIC MEDIA STUDENT
Through the course, we are taught about how the media industry works, its structure, the areas, the history and the technical aspects of various departments of production. But what we lack is hand on experience, which is beautifully compensated through an internship, as prescribed by the course syllabus.
Since the path of career we’ve taken as EM students demands a very practical approach, it is hard to understand the nuances of the industry, unless and until we are thrown into it.
Putting the knowledge and theory to use in the real world helps us learn much more and the experience stays with us forever. It is profound and adds depth and a new meaning to the existing knowledge at hand.

REVAMPING SYLLABUS TO SUIT THE INDUSTRY NEEDS
The beauty of any environment is change. The media industry too, keeps growing and changing every day. There is new technology, new job openings and new fields coming up as the time progresses. It is always a necessity to revamp and adapt ourselves as this happens, or else we get left behind.
A few particulars would include

  • Teaching us Autodesk Maya, instead of 3DS Max, as the former is used more in the field.
  • Widening the spectrum of specializations in the final semester like Ad Production, Broadcast Journalism and Photography.
  • Dealing with concentrated aspects of video production like Editing, Script Writing and Art Direction as a part of specialization, instead of a general group called Video Production.
  • Learning not just the theory, but also the Softwares in case of subjects like Editing. (Extensively)

TREATMENT AS AN INTERNEE
I talk solely for myself when I say that my work environment was very uplifting, encouraging and understanding. Be it the top most management or the first line crew, I felt included and respected, even though I was just an Intern. My doubts were patiently clarified and I were taken good care of!

But, I wouldn’t particularly say that I had a voice there (my ideas couldn’t possibly be taken into consideration). This is probably because

  1. Size of the organization (it is a very huge company, with many employees, which has a very systematic pipeline and management structure)
  2. We are talking about Animated and Live Action Films (pre-defined and structured beforehand) and the clients are the kings (have the final say).
  3. I was just an intern with no previous experience.

Although I wasn’t able to contribute directly to their current work, I was given a spate system with all the softwares and asked to explore. I worked on Autodesk Maya (3D modelling, Texturing, Rigging, Animation, Lighting), Houdini (FX), Nuke(Compositing). I took extensive help from the various departments and worked with them side by side.

BASIC SKILLS REQUIRED FOR AN INTERN
In my experience, there are a few skills that every student must develop in order to thrive at a work environment. I experienced (first hand) a lot of habits and skills that are expected out of an employee (or intern).

  • Punctuality goes a long way. Being on time automatically made people respect me and my work ethics, putting me at an advantage.
  • Humility is an absolute must have. Being humble helped me gain a lot more knowledge from my peers and superiors.
  • Being receptive and inquisitive is what made my work peers want to teach me more. Ultimately, internships are all about how you gain knowledge out of your own interest.

Skills set wise, it is okay to not know things. After all, we are just starting out.
But in my experience, it was necessary to communicate to the group about how much knowledge I had on the topic in question. Being professionals, they didn’t know where I stood and I had to clarify that in the very beginning, before getting started.

ARE INTERNSHIPS GOOD PLATFORMS TO START A CAREER?
To put it out honestly, there is no guarantee that we will get reputed companies to come for college placement cells every year. It is probably because of how fluid and fast moving the industry is. But irrespective of the reasons, it is necessary to look out for your own career. So, in my opinion, internships are the best ways to build contacts, making it the perfect platform to kick start a career in the media industry.

As a freelancer (currently working on a few paid projects) it is vital for me to build authentic contacts with companies and people who wouldn’t take me for granted just because I am a newbie in the field. It is very easy to fall into the trap of clients that underpay you and over work you at the same time. My career as a design freelancer got a boost only after my internship with DNeg.

PEER EXAMPLES
I was very proud to see my college mates take up internships and shine in various fields of their own.
I was one of the only students that opted for a full-fledged VFX/Animation internship. I noticed a majority of students working for advertisement agencies, radio stations and production houses.
A few of my peers took up roles as assistant directors, assistant cinematographers and editors for films. Another unique field that a friend of mine worked in was the field of sound engineering and production.

Here is a list of fields that EM students from my batch worked in as interns

  • YouTube and Film production houses
  • Editing suites
  • Sound Production
  • Graphic Designing
  • VFX
  • Animation
  • Advertisement Agencies
  • Brand Building Agencies
  • Video Content Ideation and Generation
  • Content Writing
  • Journalism (Newspapers)
  • Radio Stations
  • Event management
  • Direction
  • Cinematography

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