|Karen Halliwell on the panel at Bucks New University|
Bucks: So...what is it that a Character TD does, exactly?
Karen: A Character TD is usually called a rigger. The work is really a kind of digital puppetry. You are creating the architecture for a character, creating the skeleton (known as a "rig") that holds it all together and permits it to move. Visual Effects is a very specialist business, and digital artists tend to specialize in one area.
|Rigging a human hand. Source: Wikipedia|
Karen: Back in the old days you did a bit of everything. Rigging didn’t really exist as a separate discipline. Digital artists tended to be generalists, doing a bit of modeling, rigging - even the lighting. But, as the business of VFX got bigger and more sophisticated, everyone got more and more specialized. I chose to specialise in rigging.
Bucks: Where did you train?
Karen: Mainly at Jim Hensen's Creature Shop in London. I did a lot of facial rigs, basically doing Jim Henson’s creature work. Later I worked on Rango at ILM, and then at Framestore.
Bucks: what are your favourite projects that you have worked on?
Karen: I have lots of favourite projects but among them are World War Z (which, actually, I haven’t seen), and also John Carter, which is actually a very good film, even though audiences stayed away. I also enjoyed Rango, which was an amazing project. And Golden Compass. I have worked on a lot of talking dog movies, such as Marmaduke, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which were fun to do. I also worked recently on the animation for Maclaren; I did the rigging for that. It was a great project - sadly all the work is now done in India.
Karen: Well, you may have to start as a runner. Don't despise these entry level jobs - they are good ways to begin. And most companies will honour their commitment to you; they will progress you.
(Editor's note: We're hoping to get Karen to visit Bucks regularly and do some rigging masterclasses - so that we can all benefit from her huge industry experience.)