Maciej is currently in Belgrade, Serbia, finishing a summer internship at Crater Studios. It was a two month programme, and Maciej is one of the first students to complete this programme in Serbia. Maciej has shared his experiences of the internship programme...

Overall, how was your internship?

My internship at Crater Studio was an incredible opportunity. At the beginning of my internship, I paid a visit to the Crater training centre and the Crater studio. It was amazing because I have never seen a VFX studio before and I never thought that I would be able to work in one so soon.

The working environment at Crater Studio was very inspiring and welcoming. The employees explained to me what they were working on and encouraged me to do my best to try to be chosen to work on commercial projects in the studio. Not only did I think that it would be an educational experience, but working at the same pace as other professional artists has made me more productive as an artist.

What did you get up to as part of your internship?

My first project was the non-commercial trailer for “Drava”. The story is about the Yugoslavian battleship Drava which hides behind the trees and starts shooting approaching German bombers by surprise. I had to animate 24 shots and create a proxy version of the pilot rig. The whole task was really difficult because I have never worked on a project of such a big scale. Nevertheless, I found myself experimenting with different workflows to help deal with the heavy data and assets, to get the work done more efficiently. The scripts given by one of my mentors were crucial to make everything much easier.

I enjoy working on 3D Layout and I had a lot of fun creating cinematic shots. I am glad I could learn so much about cinematography and animating planes. One of the lessons for me was that I should do my research before asking someone for help. Struggling with any problem and trying to solve it makes me a greater problem-solver and allows me to discover new techniques on the way.

In the second month, I was chosen to work on a commercial project which I was really excited about. My task was to do as many movement cycles of the creature as possible. The main challenge was to work quickly due to tight deadlines.

What have you learned?

I learned how to animate in a graph editor using as few keyframes as possible to get a smooth animation. Additionally, I can manage my time more effectively and I have found out that creature animation is not my favourite area. That is the most important thing that I have learned during that internship because realising that now will help me to direct my career path in the best possible direction.

However, I do not underestimate the fact I have improved my observation skills and the speed of animating. I feel I have grown as an animator and I had the privilege to work on the movie which was wonderful and stressful.

What were the best opportunities within the internship?

Every mentor cared about interns and they were often coming downstairs to give them feedback in-person to solve any issues connected with their project.

I did not attend the Compositing public class or Houdini meet up because I felt like I needed to specialize in animation as it is the element in the CGI industry that excites me. I spent that time learning animation instead which in the long run will be more beneficial for me.

How did you like Belgrade?

I enjoyed a lot of Belgrade. I used Crater’s cinema room which was an exceptional experience. The quality of food and excellent weather made me feel like I was on holiday. I was amazed by superb places like Belgrade Fortress, Kalemegdan Park, Knez Mihailova Street and Ruzica Church to name a few. I have been in very interesting museums including the Nikola Tesla Museum, the Museum of Illusions and the Military Museum. Also, running along the shores of the Danube in the evening or swimming at Ada Ciganlija and the outdoor swimming pool was a pleasure.

In conclusion, I highly recommend going to Belgrade for an internship because you have the chance to learn a lot, gain some experience in real production and have holidays at the same time. It sounds like a good deal to me.

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