[TopTalent.in] Interview with Chirag Who Got into DreamWorks
How do they make those Awesome Animation movies? How does it feel to work for a film like ‘How to Train your Dragon 2 ‘ or ‘Penguins of Madagascar’? This guy has an answer to these questions because he worked for those Movies! For him, Experience with every movie is like exploring a new World. This guy from BITS-Pilani, Goa is able to relish this Awesome work experience by passionately working hard towards getting this Awesome Job.
We at TopTalent.in spoke to Chirag from BITS-Goa about his Dreamworks experience and what are his suggestions for aspirants looking to achieve something similar.
TopTalent: What job offers did you have apart from Dreamworks?
I got a job offered at DreamWorks as a pre-placement offer after an year long internship. This internship was a part of my college curriculum. When I was offered this internship last year, I also had a 2 month summer internship offer from Microsoft IT, Hyderabad. I chose DreamWorks over Microsoft as the dates were quite rigid and I had worked hard for the DreamWorks internship. Plus animation interests me a lot. An year after my internship at DreamWorks Animation, Redwood City, California, I was offered a job at DreamWorks Dedicated Unit, Bangalore, India. I had not applied for any other job interviews then.
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TopTalent: How do you feel on achieving this feat?
It felt really good. Computer Graphics and the Animation industry interest me a lot. I had started learning the concepts out of interest in my sophomore year in college. That’s when I learned about the DreamWorks internship program for BITS. I knew it is a tough nut to crack and would require some hard work. I was up for it. I practiced patiently and learned many new concepts along the way. Finally 2 students were selected across the 3 BITS campuses in India for this internship. It did feel wonderful.
TopTalent: Why did you choose this opportunity over others?
I did not have many other opportunities besides DreamWorks. I had a summer internship available at Microsoft IT, Hyderabad. However it was not possible to undergo both the internships and I chose DreamWorks. It was not a very difficult decision for me. I really love and appreciate animated movie and cartoons and all the effort that is put into producing them. I had worked hard to get into DreamWorks and couldn’t wait to get started working on my first production feature film.
TopTalent: How was the whole internship experience with Dreamworks?
The internship experience was a lot better than what I had imagined. I was in the PDI/DreamWorks Animation (DWA), Redwood City, California office. There was a 6 week training period at DreamWorks Dedicated Unit (DDU), Bangalore, India prior to this. I was a Technical Director intern in the Animation department, working on the movie How To Train Your Dragon 2. I had never imagined I would be so lucky to be a part of this amazing movie. I am very grateful to my mentors both at DDU and DWA for always being very supportive and patient with me. I was exposed to the different issues and tasks that arise when producing an animated feature film. I was lucky enough to get my first credit as an “Additional Technical Director” in the movie How To Train Your Dragon 2. What a proud moment! After Dragon2 wrapped up I was cast to my next show Penguins of Madagascar. I worked on this show for four months while my internship lasted and I began working as a full time employee at DDU. Besides the work, we interns were provided a decent stipend and a self-drive car during the entire period of the internship. This helped us explore the surroundings a lot and make the most of our time there.
TopTalent: Could you brief us about your interview experience?
The interview process was pretty thorough. All students were eligible to apply for the internship across all BITS campuses in Pilani, Goa and Hyderabad. The students were asked to submit their portfolio, resume, cover letter and recommendations. Based on these a few students were shortlisted for the interview rounds. There were 2 interview rounds. Both were fairly technical rounds with many questions testing your prowess in computer graphics, programming, problem solving ability and general logic. If I am not wrong 3 students made it from Goa after the first interview round. Finally 2 were selected (including me) and both of us were from BITS Pilani, Goa. The entire process lasted for about a month.
TopTalent: What kind of skills do you think helped you in getting this job?
The position I was seeking was Technical Director. One must realize that a Technical Director’s job is purely based on programming and problem solving. It does not involve any artistic work. However it is always an added advantage to know the workflow of an artist. I had started learning 3D Modeling in Autodesk Maya in my sophomore year thanks to the many online resources available. Once I was a comfortable with modeling I started exploring other areas like Rigging, Animation, Lighting and MEL Scripting. I explored a lot of forums and learned a lot about the production pipeline involved in making an animated movie. However the main skills required for this job are your programming and problem solving abilities. My portfolio can be found at www.agarwalchirag.wordpress.
TopTalent: What is the nature of your job?
A Technical Director (TD) provides critical support to a show’s artists and department heads. I design, develop, and implement new tools and processes for a particular show or department. For example, in the Animation department I can develop a tool that copies the animation from one object to another which takes care of all the hierarchies and parenting. We are expected to assist animators and artists with troubleshooting of shots. The issues may include problems with fur, clothing, particle effects, animation, rendering.etc. For example, many a times the animation you see in the software does not reflect in the output renders or it appears broken. We are expected to know what goes on under the hood and fix such issues. We work closely with other Technical Directors, Production Supervisors, VFX Supervisors, and Production Engineering to maintain and further the production pipeline.
TopTalent: How is the job experience so far?
My job experience so far has been excellent. The work culture is great. I have worked on two feature films so far, namely How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Penguins of Madagascar (releasing this November). My next show is Boo. With every show I learn more, which is great. There are times when it gets really busy at work but that’s a part of any job. We have frequent workshops by renowned personalities arranged at the studio. These workshops range from basic water color painting to stone sculpting. From writing your first ‘Hello World’ program to writing a kickass compositing script in Nuke. Everyone is welcome to attend these. We also have talented musicians, dancers and actors at the studio. Cutting it short, I love my workplace.
TopTalent: What’s your advice to students who are aspiring for similar kind of achievement?
The first thing every aspirant has to understand that this is not an achievement big enough to subside your other aspirations. This is just the beginning of your career in this industry or in the field of computer graphics. Do not blindly follow others just because the work sounds cool or fascinating. Ask yourself if you would be happy doing this work every day. If you are truly interested then make sure you are prepared before you apply for an interview. I would strongly advise to make your work available online. For example, you can start a blog. This makes it easier for everyone to view your work and approach you. Stay focused and keep practicing. Remember that there’s always, always more to learn.. All the best! =)
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