It is always an honour and great feeling to receive news from our alumni. This week, Giovanna Coutinho, Class of 2011, shared her ‘life after TBS” experience with us! Congratualtions for all your achievements, Giovanna. The British School family is very proud of you!
“I started at The British School in Nursery and went through all the way to Class 11, always being one of the “shy kids” in my year group. I always took an interest in the art classes and opportunities that were offered, and I can remember clearly that Class 5 was a pretty big arts year for me. I still remember one of the pieces I made very vividly – it was a clay sculpture based on Henry Moore’s work – and I was incredibly proud of it, even though I didn’t particularly know why at the time.
As I went on to Class 6, that interest in the arts continued to grow, and I started drawing and exploring different crafts more frequently during my free time and also in the classroom with Mrs. Arlete’s and Mrs. Leah’s support. As it was, Art quickly became my favourite subject at school, along with ICT and later ITGS, and looking back at it today it’s actually no wonder that I ended up in the 3D/CG industry. I recall enjoying all graphics-related content in IT class, including some extra-curricular “challenges” that were created to help us learn more about different software such as Microsoft Word and Photoshop. I had no idea at the time, but those opportunities definitely helped me shape a path that I would follow for my career in the future.
When we were told to find an internship opportunity near the end of my school years, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do yet – so I picked animation, since it was something I grew up with and legitimately enjoyed from a very layman perspective. It was actually very difficult to find an internship in this area – most opportunities we found were with design and advertising companies, since animation isn’t necessarily a big industry yet in Brazil. When I did find something in actual animation, it was at a small advertising studio which was working on a 3D ad about mosquitoes, which at the time didn’t particularly peak my interest since I was convinced I wanted to work on 2D, traditional animation.
University applications started rolling out, and I applied for the animation program in a number of art schools in the USA. I had a lot of help from different teachers at TBS, and ended up being accepted into a handful of art schools that peaked my interest. Cue September 2012, when I started my animation program at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
I always saw myself as one of the more diligent, prepared students in my yeargroup at SCAD, and I know my education at TBS was largely responsible for that. It was clear to me that people around me weren’t quite as prepared to try their hardest even in our core design classes, or even as comfortable to stand in front of the class for reviews and “dailies”. If you knew me during my time at TBS, you’ll know I wasn’t particularly comfortable with public speaking, but I’m very thankful that we had so many opportunities to improve those skills in school. I might not have known (or wanted to accept it) at the time, but those public speaking skills were essential to my success in university, even at an arts school. Before getting to SCAD I was under the illusion that I’d be able to continue to be my shy, quiet self, and when I got there I noticed many others were also surprised to learn that even as an artist, you must be able to communicate your ideas clearly and coherently. This made me wish I had taken advantage of more of the public speaking opportunities TBS provided, but even though I didn’t participate in too many of them, the ones I did take part in were enough to give me an advantage over most other students around me.
After taking some introductory courses to 2D/traditional animation, I figured out it wasn’t for me, and that I enjoyed computer animation a lot better – more specifically, rigging. Rigging is the stage of the animation pipeline which comes between modeling and animation – think of it as making a puppet. Modelers make the pieces and build the look of the puppet – riggers add the strings which allow the puppet to move – animators move those strings around to make it look good in motion. That being so, rigging is a very important step in the process, as it defines how good the animation will be able to be. It’s an art, but it’s also very technical and involves a decent amount of math as well as problem-solving skills and creativity.
I decided to become a rigger in 2014, graduated college in November 2015, and started my career at an animation studio called Rooster Teeth in March 2016.
Rooster Teeth makes web-based content, animated and live action, and has millions of fans. In 6 months of work here, I’ve rigged for 3 different shows – Mercs, RWBY Chibi and currently RWBY, which will premiere on October 22nd. For each project, I’ve worked on a pretty high percentage of assets, be they characters or props – we only have 3 members in our team, so I’ve had my hands on a lot of stuff and been responsible for some pretty big developments here.
Here are some examples of my work – all very motion-dependent.
RWBY Volume 4 Character Short – Premieres Oct 22
RWBY Chibi season 1:
Red vs. Blue (mainly episodes 9, 10 and 11) season 14:
RWBY season 4 isn’t out yet, but the trailer will be published next week – for now I’ll link to this Tweet with a tease of the trailer:
Thank you TBS for providing all the most important foundations skills I would need.”
By Giovanna Coutinho – Class of 2011