Animation & Motion work - Dagobert, Paris

Commercial for SNCF

Animation & Motion work - Dagobert, Paris

Character design & Animation for SNCF. Motion - Nicolas Christ

Animation & Motion work - Dagobert, Paris

Commercial for Francais de Jeux

Animation & Motion work - Dagobert, Paris

Promotion for Guerlain

Animation & Motion work - Dagobert, Paris

Commercial for Longines

Animation & Motion work - Dagobert, Paris

Promotion for Francais de Jeux

Animation & Motion work - Dagobert, Paris

Illustration & Motion project for SNCF. 3D calendar - Charles Cornichet


Heads up - Here comes some work.

Ok, so I have patiently waited for the moment I'm legally allowed to finally put up some of the Motion Design stuff I have been working on since I've been out here in Paris. I'll post a selection of projects up here tomorrow, to give you an idea what I've been working on, as well as the kind of work Dagobert produces. I would put it all up today with this post, but today is a bank holiday in France, and I am busy working away on the Flash animation that will accompany my new reel.

So this is a little teaser, if you will. Tomorrow, keep an eye out for some motion design, animation, and illustration work.

Happy Wednesday to all.


Put the Au Revoir on ice...

Apologies for the lack of blogging over the last month but I've been getting my head down at work, making sure I get everything done in my final month. Or what I thought was my final month. It would seem my efforts over the last few months have been rewarded with a renewed 3 month contract. I'm well chuffed about this, as contracts are tricky to come by at the moment, and after a couple of meetings, we have managed to come to an agreement.

3 more months honing my recently acquired After Effects skills, improving my C4D skills and of course, tightening up the French lingo.

Good times.


The Countdown to the Big Au Revoir

I have just come out of a meeting to discuss my future here at Dagobert. Everyone was massively complimentary and everyone seems very happy, and I was offered a contract extension. However, it seems the terms aren't quite what I would need to continue living in the expensive city of Paris, so I am facing my final month here. Over the past 5 months, I have built myself a great little life here in Paris, and I can already tell it'll be an emotional farewell. I only planned on being here for 6 months, but as time has gone on, I've become more and more settled. All I can do now is get my head down, knock out some top drawer work in my final month here and plan for whatever is round the corner.

Onwards and Upwards.


Copyright Shenanigans

Unfortunately, it would seem the work I am producing at Dagobert right now cannot be compiled into a personal showreel for a few months. Annoying, as it means not only can I not showcase my latest work, but I also can't send it out to prospective future employers. Ahhh well, that's the nature of the industry I'm afraid. Just wanted to put it out there, I am actually doing loads of work I assure you, I'm just contractually bound to keep it to myself for now.


A Kooky Scientist

I sketched this guy out between projects at work and wanted to colour him in. I used an erratic paint style to match the style of the character. Plus, I got a chance to play about with the pressure sensitivity setting on my new Wacom. Hands are awful, a sign I need to get back into life drawing as soon as I'm back from Paris. Anyway, hope you like.


Planning and Scheduling - The only way to get things done.

Apologies if my Blog seems to be morphing into a sort of self-help style guide for budding interns or young professions, I promise I am still doing actual work and doodling and stuff. I scrolled through and noticed how long it'd been since I actually put some art up here.

I just wanted to write a quick piece about planning and scheduling. Most people absolutely detest the idea of sitting down, making a plan and dividing up their time mostly because they're pretty sure there's no way they'll stick to it. Me, I love a schedule. It really is the only way I know I'll get something important done. I also love the feeling of crossing something out once it's done, it gives you a great sense of progress and reminds you you're one step closer to your goal. This is a technique I believe the people down at Weight Watchers swear by too, but for different reasons I imagine.

I am currently slashing together a new showreel, and have a mountain of animation to complete. Working all day at the studio, I only have weekends free to complete my work, so all of my time needs to be regimentally laid out. I have spent 3 or 4 weekends slumped on the sofa, partly because I'm tired but I imagine mostly because I have no structure and guidance to my workload. Whilst at Uni, the schedule was my best allie. When people said something couldn't be finished in time, I'd show them my schedule and that was that. Anyway, my point is, half hour spent before you start a project can save you 10x that during the project. Give it a whirl, you never know.


Making yourself Indispensible

To continue from my post 'Making the most of an Opportunity' (see below), I think it's worth carrying on by talking about trying to make yourself indispensible. I touched on this before, but it's the stage of making the most of my current opportunity that I am currently immersed in. I love nothing more than being asked to work on a project that I know is heavily dependent on my input. There have been 3 projects here now, where I have hand drawn character, or animated characters in Flash, and the client has specifically asked for my drawing style. And not to boast, but these are big clients, and big projects. I usually make a point after of asking who would have done the work had I not been here, and the response is always, we'd have had to bring someone in. Not very subtle I know, but just a gentle reminder that I am contributing work of a high standard, and that they would normally have to pay a lot more for.

Also, the English lunches I am chairing - they're great because I have a skill that they are looking to use that in theory only I can provide. All these little things, they will all be taken into account when the powers that be sit down to discuss my future at the company. And aside from that, I'm always adding killer work to my showreel, and gleaming additions to my CV.

A lot of people rubbish internships, and I can totally see both sides of the coin, and at times, I feel like I've well and truly paid my dues. But to get up every morning and actually really look forward to going to work is pretty rare. We could all work in jobs we hate and earn good money, and we all know people in that position. That's not the life for me, I love what I do, and in due course, it'll come back around.

Half Way Point ... 3 months down, 3 to go

I have had an amazing 3 months here at Dagobert, and the first half of my internship has absolutely flown past. The language is inevitably getting a little bit easier to cope with, and I feel like work-wise (c4d aside), there isn't much I can't handle. People still help me along the way, but hey, it is an internship, and once that really hit home, and I realised I can't expect myself to be amazing at new software straight away,  I took a lot of pressure off myself.

I will be having a chat with my bosses next week to see if I can physically set aside some time for C4D training, because the bits and bobs I have picked up have been 'on the job', with a looming deadline and last minute tutorials. I think if I sit down and actually learn it, it will help massively. It's a daunting piece of software for the traditional animator, but if I can leave Paris with a fairly solid understanding of it, I'll be well happy. I'm already striding forward with After Effects, and pushing my Flash up to advanced levels, and at the very least, am conversational in French. If they speak slowly.

In other news, the first English Lunch went well yesterday, got some great response on the feedback form. It looks like that'll become a regular thing every 2 weeks which will be cool. 

Here's to the next 3 months ...


'An English Lunch'

Had a meeting with the HR lady here at Dagobert, and she asked me if I'd be interested in holding some informal English lessons for my colleagues over a few croissants a couple of times a month. I thought why not? Talking nothing but English for 2 hours every few weeks is ideal for me, and it's always nice to help out. I'll be holding the first session, which they've named 'An English Lunch' - I had to ask them very kindly not to call it 'An hour with Nick' - no-one would have turned up for that. Anyway, another string to my bow, and another way of differentiating myself from the other interns.

They're providing the croissants too. I asked for pie and mash but they can't find a place in Paris that does 'em.


Blottr Instructional Video

In December, I created a little animation for the citizen's journalism site Blottr. It took a day to storyboard, 3 days to animate and another day for client alterations and tweaks. It was a busy 5 days but the clients were happy with the outcome, as was I. Check out blottr.com , it's interesting stuff. Have a nice Friday all.


Hello, potential TFL 2012 Participants

Hi there,

You may well have stumbled onto this blog after receiving the Transform@Lab newsletter and seeing my brief article. If so, hello and welcome to my Blog. I attended the TFL course last year and am currently reaping the results on a 6 month internship in Paris with the Digital Agency Dagobert. Just to talk the whole course up a bit more, it really is a great opportunity to meet some fellow creatives, come up with some ideas and learn a load of new skills. I found it helps if you jump in head first - don't let little things like not knowing anyone and language barriers get in the way of potentially career changing opportunities. Anyway, I'll leave it there, but if you are thinking of applying and have any questions, feel free to get in touch via nick@nickclackett.co.uk.


Tearing up the Showreel

Since I graduated, my showreel has been a mash of student work and work experience, and each year, I've tidied everything up a bit and made it a bit snappier without really splicing in much new work. Well not anymore!

This Summer, I'm planning on launching 2 new showreels - 1 for Animation and 1 for Motion Graphics. The animation showreel will feature 20-30 seconds of new character animation, and the graphics showreel will feature work I have produced for Dagobert, as well as a new animated sequence throughout. So come the Summer, 2 brand new 45 second showreels - it's a big ask but who needs weekends and spare time anyway?


Here until July

After a bit of concern that my finances might have lead to an early departure from Dagobert, I am chuffed that this is no longer the case. I have had a chat with the powers that be to explain the situation, and I will definitely be seeing out my contract until June 29th - at the very least (?!)

Had a great chat with my immediate boss as well as the Head of HR, and everything sounds very positive. I have had some great feedback which is always nice, and everyone seems happy with the way things are going.

Watch this space.


Two Months @ Dagobert

2 months done and dusted, and things are getting sooo much easier across the board. Linguistically, I still hold many similarities to Manuel in Fawlty Towers, but I am definitely understanding a lot more. I hoped this would happen; surrounding myself with the language all day can surely only be a good thing. Also, work wise, I am handling projects and liaising with project managers almost completely on my own, and handing work in on time and to the same standards as the 'permanents'. The last project I mentioned was very well received by the client, and should be live on their site early in the Summer.

I had a meeting with a few people near the top of the ladder at Dagobert in the last few days, and I'm chuffd to say, the feedback has been very positive. They seem happy with my progress, and happy that I'm settled in. We left it saying we will arrange another few meetings before June to discuss the different options moving forward. I am still planning for a return to England, just so I'm not caught short, but I think I will certainly be staking a claim for an extension come June. As everyone knows, there are a number of factors involved for them and me, but like I said, it all sounds very positive so far so I can't complain.

Onwards and Upwards.


Week Six @ Dagobert

Time really is flying here - the-project-I'm-not-allowed-to-talk-about-but-which-is-right-up-my-street project has well and truly kicked off, and it's looking good. After it's been released by the client, I should have some great new stuff for my showreel. I am also spending a bit of spare time on my weekends animating in Flash, just because the work at Dagobert tends to be quite After Effects heavy, and I don't want to get rusty ! The new showreel is intended to go live in May, along with a shiny new website layout. 

I'm already starting to plan for life after Dagobert; these 2 months have gone so quickly, and unfortunately, I have to plan for and assume I won't be kept on here, and hold some talks around April with the powers that be. Between you and me, my biggest concern is that the language barrier will prove a bit much of a hurdle for both parties. As conversational and confident with French as I may be after 6 months, in such a communication based industry and company, it may prove too tricky in the long run.

I'm not being pessimistic, it's just regular animation work is an elusive thing, and I like to plan for the worst and hope for the best ! 


One Month @ Dagobert

One month done and dusted at Dagobert, and this week I was given a task right up my street. I was called into a meeting to discuss a potential idea for a major client, which involved designing a new character for the company, and animating it in 2D. I nearly fell off my chair. 

I really enjoy the work I have been doing for Dagobert using After Effects and Photoshop and C4D, but this seems like the perfect opportunity for me to step up a bit, and hopefully offer them something no-one else in the team can do quite as comfortably. I was chuffed that they even pitched a 2D suggestion, and even more chuffed that the client has gone for it. I have signed all kinds of confidentiality agreements to sign, so won't be able to put any of the work up on here, but once it's been released, I'll be putting the links up. I'm pretty excited that my character design could soon be seen across France.

Anyway, it's been an absolutely top month so far, I feel like I've been here for months already. Aside from the regular language frustrations, which occur almost hourly, it really couldn't be going better. I keep being told the language will get easier, and I have to hope it will, unless I'm going backwards. 


Making the Most of an Opportunity - My Theory

In my brief time working here in Paris, I think I've discovered a key piece of information, that I'm sure can prove useful to any of my fellow freelancers, interns or graduates. 

If you are offered a set period of time, for example 6 months or 2 weeks at a given company, either as a freelancer, or on a graduate scheme, I think you need to establish very very quickly how you can offer the company something no-one else on their books can. Observation is key; check out who works there, see what they do well. Have they got all their bases covered, and are there things they do better than others? Once you've established these 'gaps in the market' - pounce on them. Maybe you can do it faster. Maybe you can do it quicker. Maybe you can come up with alternative ideas. Maybe you're the biggest contributor in an ideas meeting. The only option I would definitely steer clear of is - maybe I can do it cheaper. No one wants the reputation for being the cheapest, and companies don't want that kind of boast in their corner.

So, observe, assess and adapt accordingly. It may sound a bit OTT, but I guarantee it will do you no harm to get into this mindset. Remember, if you want a job, and you're given a foot in the door, it's up to you to show why you deserve to be kept on. Don't waste an opportunity.

Me, I'm still finding my niche here, there is a lot of talent at Dagobert, but I'm sure I can establish myself in some way. I'll keep looking.


A Mixed Monday

This blog certainly isn't intended to be an outlet for whenever I get frustrated at work, so apologies in advance for the slight rant, I promise I'll write something jolly next time :) (smiley face in a Blog - too cheesy? Discuss) 

A large part of my passion for animation and all things related comes from being able to chip in ideas, ask questions, and engage in discussions about ways to improve the project. It seems, when you take that ability away, there is nothing more frustrating. I am sat in a meeting with ideas spilling out of me, but with absolutely no means of communicating them. I always knew taking a job in France was going to prove challenging, but I didn't realize I would be getting this frustrated with myself this early. I guess I just had a bad day. People continuously tell me the language will come and I'm sure it will. But the learning curve is an isolated frustrating place. 

Plus I ruined someones surprise leaving do by asking him what the e-mail I'd been sent said, unbeknown to me and my linguistic inabilities that it was plans for his surprise party. Awesome.

No-one likes Mondays.


Week Two @ Dagobert

Things definitely stepped up a notch last week, and by the end of the week I was loving it. I say I love a challenge on an almost daily basis, but found I do tend to spend far too much time flapping about worrying about a deadline rather than focusing on getting it done from the off. I think this initial panic has been accentuated out here because of the language barrier, and the added pressure of not being able to ask for help if I need it.

The bottom line is, Dagobert have a lot of graduates, and they seem to know exactly what they're doing in terms of exposing 'newbies' to the right amount of work at the right time. My first few days, I was given a few little tasks but nothing too scary, then things got gradually more complicated, and hopefully things will carry on the same way. Obviously it depends on the amount of work they have on, but it has felt like a nice curved increase in both responsibility and difficulty of task. Today marks two weeks since my first day, but it feels like I've been here 2 months. It's a fast paced industry so I imagine this is natural - but I am loving every minute so far.


Website Touch-Up

My website will be getting a full makeover over the coming weeks including a shiny brand new showreel. ETA is the tail end of April, but it will feature new character animation, new After Effects work, maaaaybe some C4D work, and perhaps even a new jingle. Anyway, in the meantime, I've jiggled the colour scheme and layout a bit just to see how it is, let me know your thoughts!



a tiny 'WHAT AM I DOING?!' moment...

OK, so it took just over a week, but yesterday I had my first out-of-my-depth realisation, and it sort of sunk in that I am actually not only learning a load of software and technology I've never used before, but I'm learning it all in a language I don't speak. 

I was given my 1st solo brief by 2 project managers, in French obviously. (They can speak English, but I ask them to speak in French to help me learn. Stupid me). I reckon I understood 20-25% of what was said to me, and of course I didn't have the language skills to ask the questions I wanted to, as well as not wanting to look stupid. It was a bit of a Sink or Swim moment (yes, I know it sounds dramatic), but I went for a walk around the block, ate a baguette (cliché alert) and then went back to get on with it with a clear head and a full stomach. Boom, 3 hours later, it was done. 

Lesson learned - Panicking gets you nowhere, and if you're going to asked to be challenged, don't be surprised when it turns out to be challenging.


Week One @ Dabobert

Well, the first week is officially out of the way, and I managed to get through it without offending anyone with my appalling language skills. I'll be honest, that was my primary objective of week one.

The team I am working with are a top bunch, and they've done their best to make me feel very welcome. At the risk of being 'THAT guy', I am insisting they address me in French, hopefully they'll notice I'm making the effort! After finding my feet last week, and using C4D for the first time, this upcoming week promises to be a lot less forgiving. Friday, I sat in on a meeting with a rather important major phone network client, and there is a huge project on the cards. The time for holding my hand and testing the water looks like it's gone and it'll be all hands on deck this week. I do love a challenge. I'll get back later in the week to see how it's going, but so far, I'm absolutely loving it :)


New Year - Nouvel Emploi

I begin my new graduate position at Dagobert Tuesday morning, and can't wait to get started. I will be working as a Junior Animator and Motion Designer, and having visited the place a couple of times, it looks like the projects I'll be working on are really interesting. They produce adverts and promotional material for a number of large European clients, and I'm sure working there for 6 months will prove massively beneficial to my progress as an Animator. I will be developing my skills in After Effects and learning Cinema 4D, so I'll definitely be coming out the other side with a few new tricks up my sleeve, and hopefully a new language! I'll be regularly updating my Blog (New Years Resolution) so keep an eye out for new posts.

Happy New Year everyone, and here's to a blinding 2012 *raises glass of Chardonnay*