For our first Spotlight of 2021, we caught up with 2nd assistant editor, Georgina Careless. Read on to learn about her journey to Aardman, how she’s adapted to remote working, and her advice on finding a career in animation…
How did you start out in the industry and what role or roles have you had while working at Aardman?
I graduated from university in 2007 with a degree in Journalism, Film & Media. The recession was just starting to hit which made finding any job pretty difficult, let alone a job in the media, so I took the opportunity to travel and went to live in Canada on a working visa. Here I decided that in order to increase my chances of finding work in the industry, I would study for a Master’s in Film. After researching some courses in Canada (and quickly finding out that as an overseas student I wouldn’t be able to afford them!) I came home and studied for an MA in Film at Newport Film School. After the first few assignments I found myself gravitating towards editing, a profession I hadn’t even considered before, and as the majority of my course mates were interested in directing or becoming DOPs, I had a lot of opportunity to cut. After finishing my Master’s I got a job as an Assistant Editor at BBC Wales where I worked for 4 years before coming to Aardman as Assistant Editor on Early Man.
To date, what has been your biggest professional achievement?
I think it would have to be working on Early Man. As someone who grew up loving Wallace & Gromit, having the opportunity to be part of a Nick Park production was pretty huge. I remember the first time I recorded some temp dialogue for Goona with Nick and I couldn’t quite believe it was really happening. I was being directed by Nick Park! I also feel extremely lucky to have had other great experiences on the project such as attending a voice record with Richard Ayoade, who I LOVE, and getting to hear the score for the film being recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. Early Man was also the first time I had worked in animation which had always been an ambition of mine. To be able to fulfil this goal at a studio whose work I had grown up with and admired, I’d say, is definitely my biggest professional achievement to date.
Name three people who inspire you and why:
My Mum – She’s the strongest, most dedicated and hardest working person I know.
David Byrne – He’s an all-round creative genius.
Michaela Coel – She’s able to write about difficult, often ‘taboo’ subjects in a refreshingly honest, non clichéd way.
Tell us what a typical day is like for you…
I log on at 8.30am and usually I’ll start by catching up with my editor so we can plan our day. We’re at the animatic stage of the current project so there are normally storyboards which have been sent over by board artists that need ingesting in to the project and assembling. At this stage we’ll also add any sound effects, dialogue or music needed to make the sequence work. We’ll then either export reference for the director or arrange an edit session where we can chat about any changes that need to be made or whether further fixes are needed. We’ve recently had a screening so at the moment we’re spending time looking through notes and working with the director and producers to find the best way of actioning these in order to get closer to our locked version of the reel ready for shooting.
My day to day tasks tend to differ depending on what stage we are at in the process but at the animatic stage these can include dialogue sub clipping, delivering materials to the composer and sound teams, creating reference for board artists and generally maintaining the project and supporting the editor. Once we start the shoot these tasks tend to be more floor driven such as keeping Reader up to date, providing reference for animators, ingesting animated shots and VFX then finally delivering the reel to the grade and sound teams for finishing. After having completed a combination of any number of the above, my day usually ends around 6.30pm.
How has your role changed since lockdown and what challenges have you faced while working from home?
The way we manage our media has been the biggest change to our workflow now we’re working from home. When we’re on site we have a shared storage unit so we can access the same project and all of the same media. Every time new media is created by someone within the project, anyone else working within that project instantly has access to it. Working from external hard drives at home means anytime I create media or likewise any time my editor creates any media we have to send it to one another using the FTP. It’s also extremely important to keep both our individual projects as up to date as possible with the work the other person has been doing. It’s a level of organisation needed that you really take for granted when on site.
Video calls have also become a big part of our day as it has for everyone. You’re not able to pop next door and ask someone a quick question. The way we work with the director has changed too. Rather than having them sat in a room with us we’ve been using a piece of software called Evercast to run edit sessions. For the most part the process has been pretty smooth and I’ve actually really enjoyed it as it means I can take lunchtime dog walks as well as the fact that I’m not having to do my hour commute at either end of the day. I’m looking forward to getting back in to the studio though and the start of the shoot where the work we’ve been doing for the last 7 months becomes animated.
What do you like most about working at Aardman?
The people. It’s great to be surrounded by so many passionate and talented creative individuals. It’s also great to be able to work with people you call friends and not just colleagues. The people I work most closely with are obviously Edit and they’re an amazingly knowledgeable, supportive, hilarious bunch. It helps that you get on when you’re stuck in a room with someone for a minimum of 10 hours a day! It’s a real shame that we won’t all be together when we return to work due to the new normal, but fingers crossed we’ll be able to enjoy a socially distanced cuppa at some stage.
What’s your all-time favourite project that you’ve been involved with and why?
That’s a tough one because I’ve been fortunate to work on so many amazing projects so far in my career. One that stands out though was a BBC4 music production ‘Young Musician’. The programme consisted of 5 pre-recorded category finals and a live OB final where the winners of each category competed for the main prize. I had worked on a lot of different projects with the music team as an assistant editor and developed quite a close working relationship with a few of the producers and directors. Music is one of my passions so I always enjoyed these projects whether it was a funk documentary or a classical piano competition. The relationships I had built with the department really paid off when they offered me the opportunity to cut some contestant VTs for Young Musician whilst also assisting on the show. It was the first chance I had been given to cut something for broadcast so I was extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity. It was a great experience to be part of a project that included both pre-recorded material and the live OB final where the pressure is really on! I’m not sure I’d want to work in fast pace live TV all the time but it was definitely a buzz I’ll never forget.
What advice would you give to your younger self about getting into the industry?
Try and get as much practical experience as you can. Whether that’s approaching companies for work experience, practicing using certain software or joining groups who make their own films and are looking for keen new editors to cut stuff for free, as I think the main way you learn is through doing. I had an amazing time at university and although I really enjoyed my course it was completely theory based. Although my Master’s was more hands on, during the whole two year course we spent one afternoon being shown how to use the editing software Avid. I bought a student copy of Avid and basically taught myself the basics by playing around and using online tutorials. When I started at the BBC I was incredibly lucky that there was a great group of highly experienced editors who were willing to share their knowledge but also give me an opportunity to get stuck in and figure things out for myself which is where I learned the most.
Who is your favourite Aardman character and why?
Feathers McGraw. He’s a criminal mastermind and total badass but also one of the cutest characters at the same time. I’m still waiting for a Feathers origin story…