Earlier this month, Aardman Rigger Roxannah Linklater took home the LAMB prize at the 2020 British Animation Awards – a category that celebrates outstanding work from young professionals working in animation and VFX. We caught up with Roxi to learn more about her role and life at the studio…
How did you start out in the industry and what is your role at Aardman?
I started out landing a stint of work experience in London, on Wes Anderson’s feature film, Isle of Dogs. It was a pretty hectic time in my life as I hadn’t yet graduated from university. I was juggling the planning and curation of my degree show in the evenings, and working at a cafe during the weekends, to free up my time in the week for the shoot. I basically ended up working solidly for two months without a day off. During this work experience as a runner, I discovered the rigging department and knew it was the place I wanted to be. I learnt the basics (and apparently picked it up pretty quickly) as they offered me a job for the rest of the shoot. Still amazed this happened!
I currently work as a rigger for Aardman on The Epic Adventures of Morph. I have the pleasure of running the rigging department for the production, planning, designing and implementing the rigs when required. This helps make the animators’ lives easier so they can focus on their craft. I absolutely love my job, the combination of creativity and problem solving in a challenging environment is perfect for me and I cannot believe I get paid to do something so enjoyable.
To date, what has been your biggest professional achievement?
I would have to say being nominated by Aardman for the LAMB Award this year at the British Animation Awards, still reeling that I was put forward for this (thanks guys!).
Name three people who inspire you:
I couldn’t just pick three so did six instead!…
My hero mother Elizabeth Linklater
Fantastic kinetic sculptor Jean Tinguley
Kickass performance artist Marina Abramovic
Fabulous body positive popstar Lizzo
Incredible activist Malala Yousafzi
All of Pussy Riot
Tell us what a typical day at the studio is like for you?
Get to work, get coffee (a must), check what shots are scheduled for the day and make sure all the animators have what they need rig-wise for them to have a comfortable shoot! The whole job is making sure the animator can focus on the animation, instead of worrying about logistics. Making a rig can span from something as simple as aluminium wire to engineering and soldering bespoke parts. It all depends on the action we are trying to achieve. A lot of the time it’s shots that include reallllllyyyy subtle movements that require a bit of ingenuity. One of my favourites was how to inflate and deflate a bag in camera – we actually ended up using a syringe. Although sometimes I prefer the real head scratchers.
As well as the action you’ve got to consider shadows / placement of rigs as it’s going to be someone else’s job to paint all that out and you don’t want to give them a mess! A lot of the day is also prepping for things coming up to ensure efficiency and making sure rigs aren’t lost in the studio (I do a lot of scavenging).
What do you like most about working at Aardman?
It’s got to be the people. I’ve had so much fun on every shoot at Aardman and it’s a joy to be surrounded by such creative, talented and humble people!
What’s your desk/work area like – messy or tidy?
Oh gosh – I guess you can see how busy I am by checking my desk. If it’s an absolute tip you know I’ve had a full on day!
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Work = Aardman, life = pub
What’s your all-time favourite project that you’ve been involved with and why?
I have to go with my current project – The Epic Adventures of Morph! It’s such a fantastic opportunity for me to be in charge of rigging the entire shoot and I feel like it has been as rewarding as it has been challenging. Also the crew have just made such a great atmosphere on the floor, it really is a joy to come to work.
What’s your best advice for people wanting to get into the industry?
I think it’s to really show that you are willing to learn and to do all the dogwork if you have to – and do it WELL. I had to sweep floors and get people tea. Most do but make sure you do it well and with a smile on your face or no one will want to be around you! I think you just have to be personable and interested. From my experience, a company/shoot might be willing to hire someone who knows nothing as long as they gel with the team and have a willingness to learn.
Who is your favourite Aardman character and why?
HAVE to go with Babs from Chicken Run – Babs for life!!! She is my hero <3