My REAL Job

Many of you will know me through Glasgow Etsy or you may be a studio buddy from The Hidden Lane, but yesterday during a conversation on Twitter with another Etsian, I realised that not many people in that part of my life know much about the other big part of my life. It’s why I always look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards with big bags under my eyes, am ALWAYS late for everything and am just generally quite aaargh A LOT of the time.

I thought I’d write a blog post to try and explain my job, I work full time as a broadcast designer for the BBC. I have worked here for 17 years and it is truly the best job ever, and although it is very stressful, unpredictable and seemingly never-ending, I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had such an amazing career, and also blessed to have worked on so many brilliant things, in a department of the best people ( and friends) in the world.

I’m a trained broadcast graphic designer and animator and I work on title sequences, trails, sometimes make props and also now we also do a lot of coding of graphics, as well as print work in large and small format. I mostly work on a computer these days using Adobe After Effects and Maxon Cinema 4d for 3D animation, but occasionally will go back to stop frame, hand drawn or cell animation. Unfortunately budget cuts and time constraints in the industry rarely allow for that approach to television graphics these days.

 I have mostly worked on arts programmes for my time at the BBC including the Culture Show, The Review Show, What Do Artists Do All Day and Artsnight, but also work on network daytime shows like the One Show, CountrySide 999 and Take Me Out, and (just to mix it up) Panorama.

I also worked on Cbeebies show Nina and the Neurons. The dark pink neuron Ollie is based on me (when I was younger and bothered to wear make up) which I did used to as you can see from the picture of us and the Bafta we won for the series.

I have been lucky enough in my career to make some records for Mark Ronson, an animation for Radiohead ( which was pretty tricky to get signed off by the record company) and a poster for Russell Brand’s bedroom (which must have seen some siights!) I have also worked on a Jamie Hewlett drama Phoo Action where I worked under Jamie to make the graphics for the programme, and keyed and tracked them into the live footage, this is also a very important part of my job.

We do a lot of special effects and fixes on programmes like River City, Still Game and Waterloo Road, things you would never know were ever or never there until we had spent hours painstakingly painting out frame by frame or tracking things into the footage like explosions, locusts or a giant shark.

I also do a lot of print work and large format graphics from Subway posters and moving info screens, to brochures and billboard posters. Here is a 20 meter sticker that I photoshopped for the side of the BBC building for the Commonwealth Games, it was was probably one of the most nerve wracking things ever, your photoshopping has to be pretty spot on if it’s going to be that big. I was pretty much wetting myself as they painstakingly put it up sheet by sheet and I stood looking up checking my work for some airbrushing abnormality, luckily there were none!!

BBC Scotland
Branding at the BBC during the Commonwealth Games 2014
photographed by Alan Peebles

And finally I’m going to finish with my favourite piece of work, a hand drawn title sequence that I have scanned in and animated back using Photoshop and After Effects. The yellow paper is from Peter Capaldi’s sketchbook which he very kindly lent me (and more importantly trusted me with). It has such a special place in my heart because It was my last title sequence before I went on maternity leave. On my first night sitting up with my new baby, settling into my new full time role, as I was attempting to feed her, there it was on BBC Four at 3am. I’ve never felt prouder (and more emotional) in my life to see a piece of my work on television.

 

I’ve started to put some of my work on VIMEO and will be adding to it, you can find me on LinkedIn here .This post has served to remind me of how proud I am to work for the BBC and although I have sacrificed a lot of things in my life like partys and dates, brushing my hair and lived on a diet of mostly Real McCoys for much of my 20’s  (and quite a bit in my 30’s). I have truly enjoyed (mostly) every minute and hopefully will continue to do so for many years to come!