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What is a typical day at an animation studio like?
Maria Pawlikowska, 09.03.2018

What is a typical day at an animation studio like?

A brand new day of work has just started.

A line of people looking for a cup of coffee is forming in the kitchen. This is the first survival lesson at the office: no creative work happens without coffee. People share small talk, gossip from the previous evening, someone might even hear that they look great despite not having enough sleep, as usual.

Ok, so the coffee is ready, now it’s time for other duties. So that we don’t get lost in the rush, a morning standup meeting completes the routine. This is the perfect moment to check whether anyone is late. The main aim of the standup is to sum up current operations, delegate tasks, and set a detailed plan for the day.  

This is the first survival lesson at the office: no creative work happens without coffee.

This is the first survival lesson at the office: no creative work happens without coffee.

The standup is headed by the Traffic Manager: the person in charge of the smooth workflow, and of distributing work among individual members of staff. Contrary to appearances, this is not an easy job. Everyone already knows what to do? Great. So now it’s time for our second coffee. But where has the milk gone?

Let’s have a look at the chill-room. This is the most crowded place in the studio, with a comfy sofa, large TV set, gaming console, and a whiteboard. Here is where internal creative meetings and client meetings take place (sometimes, however, you may find a corpse of some unfortunate soul that takes a nap here. Rule Number 2: Never wake anyone up, unless it’s for work).  

Chill-room is the most crowded place in the studio.

Chill-room is the most crowded place in the studio.

What are the creatives doing today?

The same as always. They’re discussing things, drawing, animating. If a meeting happens to be going on right now, you can be sure that the copywriter who is in charge of writing the script is sitting there, along with the art director who watches over the graphic layout, and one of the illustrators.  They’re working on a client brief. They’re browsing references. They’re selecting the most suitable style. They’re quarrelling. They’re creating a sketch of the story. You might as well go and have your third coffee – when you come back, you can be sure that the argument will still be going strong. The studio is a place where people argue about their taste in art non-stop. 

By contrast, there is total silence in the room next door. This is the command centre, where Project Managers are peering into their inboxes full of e-mails from clients. They also keep an eye on how work is going on in individual projects. From time to time, the silence is broken by a playlist of Polish hit songs from the 1990s and the bubbly laughter of the girls in the office. Did we mention that this room loves contrasts?

Project Managers keep an eye on how work is going on in individual projects.

Project Managers keep an eye on how work is going on in individual projects.

It’s worth taking a look into the dining room around lunch time. Here you can meet a rare species of an illustrator who has just arisen from his computer. But to engage in a conversation, you’ll have to break through the wall made of a tablet which the artist is undoubtedly holding. Rule Number 3: Illustrators live to draw. Always and everywhere. When talking to an illustrator, always smile, just in case. You never know if he might not have just drawn your portrait.

And where are the animators? 

On this count, there is no discussion. They come in last and leave last. They enter a dark room at the end of the office and that’s all. They are able to prepare a thermos of coffee for later and not leave their desk for the next 8 hours. Not because someone has put a gun to their heads and forced them to do it, but because outside of their screens, where the magic happens, they are blissfully unaware of the world around them. Tell them it’s raining outside, and they just smile, not taking their fingers away from the keyboard even for a moment.

Animators come in the office last and leave last.

Animators come in the office last and leave last.

The long corridor leading among the rooms from time to time turns into a Little Amsterdam – there are bicycles leaning one against another, leaving a tight squeeze for those wishing to make their way to the outside world. But why leave when there is still coffee here?

Let’s explore the office a bit more. In the kitchen, there is a constant mess. For this reason, at least once a day, those who are on clean-up duty share their thoughts in no uncertain terms on what they think about humanity and the meaning of life.

Hundreds of mails, looking through references, searching for news, and noting down ideas for the creatives - this is our everyday reality.

Hundreds of mails, looking through references, searching for news, and noting down ideas for the creatives - this is our everyday reality.

Our everyday reality is hundreds of mails for the PMs. Looking through references, searching for news, and noting down ideas for the creatives. Tedious but ultimately rewarding digging through graphics programs for production. And it’s this stage – the actual animation – that takes the most time. The fourth and final rule is this: There is no magic button which you can push and make the work of a dozen people happen in a minute. Time is our best friend, the kind of friend that it’s great to drink coffee with.

There is no magic button which you can push and make the work of a dozen people happen in a minute.

There is no magic button which you can push and make the work of a dozen people happen in a minute.

Maria Pawlikowska

Maria Pawlikowska / Copywriter