Categories: Animation Articles Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention: Jenna Gien

Recently we had the opportunity to touch base with someone who’s not so much an animator, but more of the brains behind the logistics of animation. This lady is the Line Producer/Project Manager at Mind’s Eye Creative in Johannesburg. A nifty little 2D studio that specialises in 2D character animation, character design, illustration and traditional VFX and she organises the animationXchange for the Johannesburg crowd.

Watch this video to get a good grasp on who Mind’s eye Creative is and how they work. (Try not to laugh)

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Table of Contents

What’s a day in the office like for you?

At the moment, we are working with a Canadian Studio on a Netflix original adult animated sitcom, “F is for Family”. Given the difference in time zones, we usually receive the bulk of our feedback in the wee hours of the morning and late afternoon so it’s difficult to distinguish between the start and end of my day at the moment.

It’s my job to ensure that my team receives the ongoing flow of feedback and to upload completed shots for approval. Throughout the day, I’m problem-solving, organising schedules, allocating shots, managing assets, compiling an off-line edit to check for continuity issues… and still quoting for a multitude of other projects so this job requires some serious multitasking.

If you follow the paper trail of reminders, you will usually find me running around the office with a large cup of coffee, looming over the team in case they forget to read their notes or missed out on some small (but essential) details.


What do you think is the most important part of a good recipe for a successful day?

Lots of coffee, good tunes and interesting conversation to keep the creative juices flowing!


How does your work influence the roles of your colleagues?

The animation pipeline functions much like manufacturing; if one part of the process is delayed or isn’t performing optimally, the entire project suffers so part of my role as a project manager is to simplify my artists’ tasks by planning out their daily schedules, managing their work flow efficiently enough to keep them as effective as possible.

What has been the most memorable experience for you in your field?

Every project has its grand moments, but I would certainly say that working on F Is For Family is especially memorable as we are all huge fans of the show and delivering to their standards has been a massive accomplishment.


What’s your favourite meal? (We like pizza, sushi and steak, yes, definitely steak)

I have a weakness for Thai food and Popcorn! I have Simply Asia on speed dial and a stock of popcorn to last me a couple of weeks – just in case there’s a zombie outbreak: P

Do you prefer a seat at a desk or a standing desk?

I prefer a seat. I spend around 10 – 18 hours of my day in front of my computer so a comfy chair is a worthwhile investment.


Coffee, tea, wine or beer?

Hmmm… is coffee/wine a thing? It should be…


Do you have any mentors who you would like to give a shout-out to?

I took part in a producers course with Angus Finney a little while ago and he really inspired me to get off my comfy chair and actively look into development and production. Creating original I.P is very important to us as a studio and part of our business strategy for 2017 is to produce/co-produce a local series, feature or short.


What has been one of your funniest experiences in the workplace?

Let’s just say I came up with an epic prank to play on our Animation Director and it backfired terribly! The entire team was in on it and decided to prank me instead O.o

Do you have any health tips for artists?

(Seeing as we tend to spend anything from 30-48 hours a day in front of our workstations :P)

Drink lots and lots of water, try to avoid loading up on sugar and get up every 1 -2 hours for a stretch and walk around. As creatives, we tend to suffer through our deadlines, pulling all- nighters and working throughout the weekend. It’s very easy to fall into a bad routine and lose steam on long form projects. Try to find a separate source for inspiration and get loads of rest.


Please tell us a bit about the work you did for Camp WWE –

What do you think was the biggest challenge when the studio tackled this project?

We were asked to produce rigs and character animation.
When starting the project, we had to get used to their system and rig configuration, which was a little tricky in the beginning.

We expanded from a team of 6 to a team of 13 and took on animators and riggers who didn’t have much experience in cutout techniques or building rigs. We had to train on-the-job which can be very time-consuming, especially when you have to meet deadlines.


Unicorns or Dragons?

Unicorn Dragons!

You guys have some work going up on Netflix, called F is for Family, this is huge!

Please tell us what you and the team are doing for this project and when can we expect to see your work in action?

Following our work on Camp WWE, we were asked to assist with the second season of F Is For Family. We produce between 3000 – 4000 frames of character animation and around 30

– 40 rigs each week. The release date has not yet been confirmed, but I suspect it will air early next year.


Recently you guys completed a 90-second trailer for Last Library, created by Rudolph Boonzaaier.

Please tell us what your team did for this project and what the experience was like for you all?

We really love developing and creating original content! We assisted Rudolph in securing the NFVF development funding to produce a 90-second promo in order to promote the show at markets. After producing the teaser, we now have a very clear idea of how we would tackle development and production if the show gets green lit. Keep an eye out as we plan to publish the promo very soon.


Would you rather be a heroine or a female supervillain and who would you be?

Hmmm… I’d rather be a Unicorn Dragon…

What advice do you have for any aspiring artists looking to make a successful career in this industry?

The animation industry is a tough place filled with extremely dedicated and passionate artists who spend their lives mastering their skills. It is not always the most well paid or glamorous career, but it is incredibly rewarding and inspiring! The truth is we never stop learning and we never stop growing. Be bold, thick skinned and have an open mind to anyone willing to teach you! If you’re a local animator, join up with Animation South Africa and have a look at what is going on in your industry or what jobs and positions are available. Make sure you come to the XChanges and network with key industry artists and studios!


If we want to get in touch with Mind’s Eye Creative, where can we follow you online and make contact?

Tell: +27 11 476 5981

Written by Neal Strydom

Co-Owner of Pixelsmithstudios. Specialising in creating content for digital platforms Working fulltime in marketing & Advertising Always meeting new talent

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