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Globetrotters - Julie Lanen

10 juli 2009
Flemish animation professionals working abroad are the topic of the 'Globetrotters' series. Julie Lanen studied animation in Canada but her 3D career led her to Italy and the U.K. Today she is working on Sofi on Safari, a tv series for children.
LOCATION Leamington Spa/Warwickshire - UKAGE 38 EDUCATION Visual Communications - Institut St. Luc de Tournai, Belgium (1989-1992), Videography, Illustration - Ecole de Recherche Graphique, Bruxelles, Belgium (1992-1993), Silkscreen, Etching, Batik - Lorenzo de` Medici, Firenze, Italy (1993-1994), Acrylic painting, Illustrator, Photoshop, School of Visual Arts, New York, USA (1994-1995), 3D Animation and Visual Effects, Vancouver Film School, Canada (2000-2001) FIRST RECOLLECTION OF AN ANIMATED MOVIE BambiFAVOURITE ANIMATION SHORT For the birds - Creature comfortsFAVOURITE ANIMATION FEATURE Jungle Book - Horton Hears A WhoPREFERRED ANIMATION TECHNIQUE 3DAWARDS Award Best Student Film, 33rd Canadian International Annual Film Festival (2002) Romeo and Juliet At the start of your career, you were a graphic designer... Yes, first I was a graphic designer then project manager for pre-press Satelit in Lier (B) for 4 years. Later on, I moved on to web design and development in Brussels. Where does your fascination for 3D come from? I got into 3D because I was a big fan of Oddworld. I loved this game so much that I went to the U.S. to visit the company behind it with a view of working there, but in the end I decided that I was not prepared to live in the U.S. So you were really motivated to start in 3D... Yes, and when my father died in 1999, it became a big turning point in my life, I decided I wanted to put things into perspective, and decided to follow my dream of becoming a 3D artist and to travel. Both were realised with my enrolment at the Vancouver Film School for an intensive course in 3D animation. I worked extremely hard (in Vancouver the school was open 24 hours a day!) and I was recognised as one of the best 2 students of my year, which resulted in me being rewarded with a months guidance from a private tutor to advise me on my graduation movie Romeo and Juliet. Consequently, this film was sent out to represent the school in festivals and won an award for best student Film at the 'Movies on a shoestring' festival, and got selected for screening for various other festivals. After that success, I got offered a job with Meteor Studios in Montreal, renowned for When Dinosaurs Roamed America amongst others. They wanted me to start immediately, but I was close to having a burnout after finishing school and I had been separated from my family for a whole year, so I preferred to seek employment a little bit closer to home and sent out resumes to companies in Europe. This led me to a project in Rome where I worked for 1,5 years. It was a great experience and the culture was fantastic, but I was not fully fulfilled in my job because the company did not share the same enthusiasm and passion that I have for 3D. How did you end up in the UK? I got an offer to work on a cool one year project called The Blobheads in Scotland. It mixed 3D characters with live actors. Then I did high profile commercial jobs as a freelancer for The Mill, a post and visual effects house in London. I also worked on a series of children's Biblical stories Friends and Heroes for the Character Shop in Birmingham before I left on maternity leave. I understand you were also a senior animator on the game version of Batman Begins, how was that experience? I must say I learned a lot from it, because it is different in various ways. The animation was much more realistic than the projects I had worked on previously, and in a video game the camera should always be able to turn 360° so that was a new challenge for me. It was also a lot of fun working out the style and choreography for the fight scenes. You just started working on a new project in the UK, but before that you were considering moving back to Belgium? Yes, just when I was thinking of moving back to Belgium with my husband and 3 year old twins, I was contacted by a colleague that introduced me to my current employer. It is a high quality educational children's program called Sofi on Safari for Taylor Drew Productions, it is such nice a project that I decided to stay! It's about a girl travelling by air balloon getting to know lots of talking animals all over the world. It should be finished by May 2010. We are working in a team of 22 with the animators producing 180 frames a day! There are also two large companies that develop games not far from where I live now but I chose to work on this tv series, even if it means I have to travel a little bit more. This company is still relatively young, which presents me with a new and exciting opportunity to grow with the company. Does that mean you have a lot of artistic freedom in your current assignment? Yes, to a certain degree. With Sofi on Safari, the director explains the storyboards and we get our deadlines. If we have an idea that is agreed will improve the story-line, we are given flexibility to adjust or rewrite the script, it's a very organic approach. Of the 26 episodes that we have to make, only about six have been written, so if they like the ideas that we add to the existing storylines, we can come up with a complete new story! Do you have a project of your own you hope to realize in the near future? I am currently working on an animation of a horse. I used to ride horses when I was young, and I have kept a passion for them ever since. It is very rare to see really good horse animations because they are technically very difficult and time consuming to create and animate. I also like modelling and texturing, so it is proving to be a very rewarding project. LINKS Romeo and Juliet Demo Reel