A Day in The Life of a Motion Designer @ ETC

By George Dyson | 8th October 2018

Deciding to join the full time staff at Electric Theatre Collective was a big decision for me. Having met the majority of the amiable team whilst freelancing in the months running up to my start date, the anxious anticipation of joining an award winning VFX studio as their first full-time motion designer was somewhat relinquished. Feeling calm and confident I took on my final freelance job days before my contract commenced: shooting Carl Cox and Pete Tong in a luxury Ibizan villa. Nothing better to settle the mind than lots of sun, sand and over 72 hours of frantically retouching sunburnt party animals to a soundtrack of unrelenting house music. In all sincerity this was a big shift from my hectic freelance lifestyle, and the folks here at Electric made it more than worth while.

Now over a year on the full time team in London and having built a motion design team around myself, I can say I’m a fan of the lifestyle Electric affords me. I’m always busy, always on the edge of my abilities and most importantly always around a talented team who are eager to lend a hand outside of work hours. It’s a real bonus that we also happen to make impressive VFX on tight deadlines.

My day to day routine will most likely follow the same pattern. I’ll arrive at 9:00… or 9:15… or 9:20… as long as I’m sat down working by 9:30. Over some breakfast I’ll check my emails, which let’s me know what tasks my producers have set me for the day. Working primarily in TVCs our turnarounds for projects are fairly quick, so it’s common that individual tasks for projects take only one or two days. These jobs run parallel to each other and I’m often jumping on several projects within a day so it’s important to know exactly what I’m doing.

I like these quick projects. They encourage an efficient way of working through clear and concise communication, which is essential when joining a larger team. Fast projects can also be quite technically challenging. Due to demand I’m often asked to work in other positions with new software. ‘Can you digital matte paint the background stadium for this Wimbledon spot? Can you repeat this 60 times?’ There, I’ve now learnt the basics of matte painting from industry professionals whilst making a pretty cool and award winning project. These quick turnarounds also mean that every fortnight I’m working on something different, which again helps to improve and diversify my skills as a motion designer, VFX artist, 3d concept artist and now digital matte painter.

Around about this point, after working on some mograph, DMP and concept pitches the clock strikes 13:00. It’s lunch; I like to have a quick swim at the lido in Covent Garden. Not only am I a bona fide merman but stretching your legs and staying active really does increase productivity and moral when sitting at a desk for long stretches. Back at it again for the afternoon shift. More of the same, chats with producers, meetings with clients and some chocolate biscuits of course. I usually wrap the day up anywhere from 18:00 to 20:00 depending on how much I’ve got on.

So, I’ve clarified that I’m busy at Electric, very busy. Well, somehow busy isn’t quite enough for me as I’m always working on personal projects. I run a club night entitled GÆZ, work with an associated record label called PLZ Make It Ruins, and take on the occasional freelance music video project, as long as they don’t interfere with my primary work. Electric encourage this productivity and creative exploration. In fact, I’m currently directing and leading the VFX on a project I brought to ETC/Friends Electric through my freelance moniker Greedy Goons. If that’s not a cool company, I’m not sure what is.

To conclude: the hours are long, the work is diverse, the team is bloody good and the studios are pretty damn decent. Oh, and around about 23:00 I usually fall asleep watching youtube tutorials…