Debbie Langford

CG Crowd Supervisor and mentee in DNEG Mentorship Program

Hi Debbie, could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

I am a Crowd Supervisor at DNEG. It’s awesome working in Crowd, as it’s a great combination of both creative and technical skill-sets. So many departments feed into and out of Crowd, so it’s also a wonderful opportunity to interact with innumerable artists and programmers from multiple disciplines and sites.

You were a mentee in DNEG’s Mentorship Program – can you describe the program in a few words?

Encouragement! Reinforcing that my ideas are important, and that my work is valued.

What made you want to join the program?

I participated in sports at a national level when I was younger which provided me access to several inspiring coaches and teammates, who were early mentors to me. Much of their guidance pertaining to focus, positive mindset, time management and persistence could be applied to many areas of my life, including work. This provided a strong awareness of how valuable mentors are.

The opportunity to participate in a formally structured, work-related mentorship program had not been available to me previously. When the program was announced, I requested a mentee spot and was informed that I’d also been nominated by my Creature Supervisor, so I was enrolled!

You were paired with David Andrews, Animation Director in Vancouver, can you talk about your mentee-mentor relationship, and what it was like to work together?

David and I had not met before the program, so we were building our mentorship relationship from scratch. I was enthralled that I’d been paired with a mentee from Animation as I work with Animators frequently in Crowd. I love that they always approach work with both passion and enthusiasm. Animators also have great attention to detail, so I was interested in David’s observations and thoughts pertaining to my ideas and I hoped to learn a lot about myself during the mentorship.

What did you work on?

We spent the first couple of sessions getting to know each other’s work backgrounds, and personalities and discussed what we hoped to achieve from the program.

Crowd is a very global department at DNEG, which interacts with multiple disciplines. Therefore, I wanted to primarily develop my cross-site communication skills and further develop professional relationships with bookend departments to Crowd.

I also described a personal project that I wished to pursue; increasing the number of female crowd archetypes, and core motions in our central motion capture library. Because only 10% of library actions were female, the lack of clip variation caused female crowd agents to often be culled during the shot review process. This, in turn, distorts the number of CG females in background crowds to a significantly lower proportion than males.

We decided that the project would be a good way to incorporate these communication and cross-department relationship goals that I wished to develop.

After reaching out to several departments we arranged a capture session, in which myself and co-worker, Galina Pak attired mocap suits and recorded our joint data for over 600 female actions.

When I recount the progress of my project to my colleagues, I discover a mirrored abundance of enthusiasm to continue expanding the female library actions. I now have a long list of female co-workers willing to put the mocap suit on, which further ignites and invigorates my motivation to continue.

What would you say was your biggest highlight during the program?

Being proactive. Having the courage to leap into the unknown, with a project that captures my imagination and generates positive change.

How would you describe Debbie-before-the-program and Debbie-after-completing-it?

Since completing the program I have elevated my enthusiasm for my role at DNEG and increased my belief in my goals and ideas. I’m more confident to share thoughts with bookend departments, frequently discovering we are striving to overcome similar issues. Great momentum can be achieved by combining forces!

How did the program align with your professional needs or goals?

When chronicling my project to expand the female motion library, others declared that we should re-run the project for the male library data. This was my opportunity to remind everyone; if you want something done, and it’s within your capabilities, don’t wait for someone else to take the lead. Go for it yourself; take the leap and morph your ideas into an achievement!

What did you learn out of the program, are you/ how are you applying this learning to your day-to-day at work?

The program reaffirmed to me how important (and contagious) encouragement is. It renewed my enthusiasm to create an environment that welcomes the sharing of knowledge, ideas and momentum for positive change.

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a mentee?

Find someone that you admire and ask them to be your mentor. It’s an amazing journey of encouragement, discovery, progression, achievement and self-belief.

 


FIND OUT MORE

Read more about DNEG’s Global Mentorship Program here.

And if you are interested in joining our team and building your career at DNEG, check out our open positions.

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