INSIDE Flipbook is our web series promoting the talented individuals that make the studio so great. From artists to producers, every member of the team brings a unique personality and skillset.

In this edition, we spoke with Flipbook Studio’s Compositor and Motion Artist, Jess Oldland.

When did you first become passionate about animation and CG? And when did you decide you wanted to make it your career?

90% of the tv I remember watching as a kid was animated – Tom and Jerry, Dexter’s Laboratory, Wallace and Gromit. Throw that in with how much I loved to make stuff at home and in school – from paper plate monsters to making my own Pokemon cards – I was probably destined for a creative career quite early on. It wasn’t until I was in college that I found an interest in digital art, and the beginning of DVD/BluRay film releases with behind the scenes footage gave me an insight into how CG sets were made. That’s where I felt a pathway opening up, which would eventually lead me to where I am today: making the unreal believable on screen. With flying witches and singing yetis on an illustrated mountain top.

What interested you in joining Flipbook Studio and when did you start?

I came across Flipbook’s portfolio in the summer after my first year of uni when I was back home in Manchester and exploring what the city had to offer in the VFX industry. Immediately, I was impressed with the work they had produced and promised myself I would be part of the team one day. When I was graduating from Staffordshire University, good fortune meant Ben and Andy had been invited to the showcase event where we met and discussed my work and my aspirations for the future. We exchanged a few emails and very soon, I was working as a freelancer with them on Animal Fight Night and ITV’s Cilla – this was the summer of 2014. They offered me a full-time role as a Junior Artist early the following year.

Can you describe a typical day as a Compositor and Motion Artist?

It usually depends on the project we’re currently in the throws of. When working on a comp-heavy project, I take a lead role, ensuring there are always other artists dropping in to make sure everyone’s happy and know what they’re doing that day. The first task of the morning is always to look at the feedback that has come through overnight, to understand what’s needed, and assign out to the right artists. Then I’ll get a few hours to work through the shots on my own list which usually starts with watching over the edit so I understand the context of the shots, as well as reading any written notes or guides that have come through from the director.

By about 4:00-4:30 pm, I’m back to checking in with everyone and updating the VFX editor with the progress that can be added into the evening’s playouts.

However, when working on a motion project, the days are a bit more organic. I’ll be progressing through the various stages of production – from prepping artwork and laying out the animatic, to finessing the finer details that will reach the client’s goals and get us sign off. So the day to day depends on where we’re up to with the project as a whole. But there’s always daily check-ins with the production manager on the show (either Jo or Dan) where I’ll share the current piece and we’ll discuss any queries and creative options that will help us progress to the next stage. It’s always a very open discussion about where we want to take the work at the same time as thinking about what the client is looking for.

What’s it been like working in the industry during 2020’s social distancing restrictions?

Obviously, it has been a very strange year, but we’ve been really lucky in that we’ve managed to keep working throughout. I know for sure our pitch team has worked incredibly hard to make sure we’ve kept bringing projects in. Initially working from home was kind of exciting, being able to work in your comfies and spend lunchtimes out in the garden – it was a nice change to early morning alarms and commuting into the city. But after so long now, I definitely do miss the atmosphere of the studio and seeing everyone face to face. I’m looking forward to the Monday morning that we can all be back in the conference room having a real-life production meeting.

You recently completed a Flipbook Feedback session with Alexandra Parkinson, how important is professional advice when starting out in animation and VFX?

I do think it’s important, yeah, especially when you’re taking your first steps. The academic world is very different to the industry itself, so I think talking about your work with professionals can help you get a different perspective on your portfolio and skillset, to see it within the context of the working world. When you start to understand how studios and other artists view your work, you’ll learn how best to present it to appeal to them, and which areas you might need to push your skills in to be able to stand out as an artist.


What’s been the most memorable project that you’ve worked on so far?

I think the project that will stay with me for a long time is The Worst Witch. The role I had in that gave me a chance to leave my comfort zone in a way I hadn’t thought I would enjoy too much, but I really did. I’m often quite an introverted person, so I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed being on set for shoots and actually came to miss it when we were in post-production stage. I was also a bit nervous about leading a team, but in the end, it brought me closer to them all as people and friends. It was such good fun bringing the magic of the show to life, and it brought a little bit of magic to mine.

Where do you see the future for Flipbook Studio?

I hope 2021 will be a big year of branching out at Flipbook. I think we’ll be looking to get more fingers in the pies of TV dramas, as well as short and maybe even feature films. There’s a lot of focus on these areas, especially as more of us are at home and in desperate need of entertainment! So cementing us as a go-to studio in those fields will be the catalyst for us to keep pushing our skills and keeping up with the super-high quality the industry and viewers expect.


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