One Year at Blue Sky

Earlier this week, I celebrated my one year anniversary working at Blue Sky Studios. Although I worked for a few months at a small company in NYC before this, this job truly feels like the first one on the path that I want for myself, and thus carries more weight. I remember as far as my 5th month in to working here, wondering if I would ever “get it” and I can confidently, accepting-ly say “no.”

You are never going to feel 100% comfortable where you are, and if you do, it is probably misguided. The more I learn, the more I become aware that there is still so, so much that I have to learn. There’s much to learn about this industry, this particular studio, the specific department and role I’m in, my relation to other people in other roles in other departments, and, of course, about myself as a young adult and fledgling professional.

I knew going into a big studio would have its pros and cons, and I knew that starting in an entry-level position is no walk in the park. Yes, I find myself frustrated at times–frustrated at the system (“the man,” if you will), the state of animation/VFX in general…and myself especially. And then there are times, (even a year in, I am delighted to report), where I am absolutely in awe at what I get to see every day. Sometimes a seemingly trivial meeting about a character leaves me giddy as I revel in the seriousness and respect at which all of these artists and technicians treat the work, the collaborative spirit and friendly atmosphere apparent. I’m not going to lie and say that there aren’t bad days, or politics, or anything else that you’d expect from any other job, but I think the nature of our work sometimes makes it more digestible. At the end of the day, we aren’t curing cancer, and I think, perhaps naively, that that sort of perspective is important to keep in the back of one’s mind. That yes, we are taking our work seriously, but never to a fault.

There’s a lot for me to improve on, but at the same time I do think that I’ve progressed. It’s just easier to skewer one’s shortcomings than recognize successes. One failure sticks out in your memory more than a dozen small victories. I’m trying to grow more mindful of myself, my surroundings, and others, both in the office and in life.

This upcoming year also sees a return to my thesis film and final few classes in the computer animation grad program at SVA. It hasn’t been difficult to be both a full-time employee and a student, as I took a gap year and haven’t actually been a student. The heavier lifting hasn’t yet started, and when it does, I know I will have to try extra hard to keep my spirits up and balance my work and school, putting some hobbies I enjoy and want to explore–like rock-climbing and painting–on hold for the time being. The second year will be even more challenging because of this.

I’m not sure what’s ahead for me in the future, but the present continues to be surreal. It’s strange to think about where I was a year ago, and the weeks and months leading up to this. So much has changed, and so much has stayed exactly the same. I think I was hoping I’d have changed a bit more, but how can one hope to measure such a subjective thing? You never notice things as they change gradually, especially if you are always reflecting on it, which makes it all the more aggravating. It’s always in hindsight that the change feels like a large jump instead of smaller steps. In the mean time, I am trying to be satisfied with my tiny, tiny steps in the big world of animation.

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