“Have a goal, and if you want a specific role at a particular company, figure out how to get there. And, don’t be afraid to fail – often.”
Stephan Osterburg joined the DNEG Animation team in January 2021 as the Character Technical Supervisor in London and since then has been promoted to Head of Rigging. Since his start at DNEG Stephan’s been working on some of our most anticipated feature animation projects such as Nimona. Keep on reading to hear about his journey into the world of VFX and Feature Animation, and more.
Hello Stephan! Tell us what brought you into the world of VFX and Animation?
I originally wanted to study architecture and did an apprenticeship in an architecture bureau in Germany as a draughtsman. While there, I got introduced to computer-aided design, which coincided with the release of TRON. I was hooked; from then on, it was ‘goodbye’ to architecture and ‘hello’ to VFX!
In 1984, I did a three months computer-aided design course and half a year computer programming course. I graduated and started searching for a job, knocking on doors and going through the telephone book because there was no internet at the time. I eventually got offered a role – the induction process wasn’t what it is now! They asked me to start the next day, handed me a thick manual, showed me where the coffee machine was, and told me to start reading. That’s how I got started in the industry.
What is your day-to-day like as a Technical Supervisor and Head of Rigging?
As a Technical Supervisor, I get tasked with solving problems. How can we do this? How can we do this faster? How can we rig something that has never been rigged before? And as Head of Rigging, there’s a lot of mentoring, figuring out what artists need, and just being there to support them where I can. Helping out where I can, not only on the technical side but also on the personal side.
What do you like the most about your job?
Being able to solve problems and the rewarding feeling that comes with it.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
The main advice I’d give is to never give up. Have a goal, and if there is a specific role you want at a specific company figure out how to get there. What does it entail? Come up with a plan. If it’s on the technical side like programming, practice a little bit every day or on the artist side of learning to improve your drawing skills. Lastly, don’t be shy to ask questions, and look for a mentor.
Time for some rapid fire questions – What’s one thing you always have on your desk at work?
A sketchbook, plants, and a copy of Computer Graphics Mathematical First Steps.
What’s your ‘special power’ at work?
The word “no” doesn’t exist to me when it comes to resolving a problem. Everything is possible.
What are you most looking forward to every day?
Talking to colleagues face to face without Zoom, and meeting cool new people.
Do you remember how you felt on your first day at DNEG?
I remember being super tired because I started very early in the morning while in California to have enough crossover with London. But I was super excited and remember being really thrilled, saying to myself ‘this is so awesome’.
What’s your best memory so far at DNEG?
When animators tell you they are super stoked about the work you’ve delivered.
Finish this sentence: DNEG is…
Thinking outside the box.
To find out more about DNEG Animation click here – AND you can meet them at SIGGRAPH, find out more about our programme here. Interested in joining DNEG’s Oscar-winning team? Stay tuned for our next ‘FOCUS’ and click here to find out more about our open positions across our studios in North America, Europe and India.