Student profile: Animation student Julie Bijjou

MoPA student Julie Bijjou has a passion for image production and completed her summer internship at the CG studio DNEG. DNEG’s Greenlight internship programme offers intensive dedicated training, live production experience and mentoring with existing artists and supervisors. Now a 5th year student, Julie talks about her DNEG intern experience in London.

What was the application process for a DNEG internship?

I applied through the DNEG website to compete for a place on their program.

After sending a showreel and CV to my chosen department, Groom and Sculpt, we had to wait for an initial approval from the recruiters. Short-listed candidates then had their applications reviewed by DNEG’s senior supervisors. 

We were then invited to spend a day in London at DNEG, for a comprehensive on-site interview. There were 24 of us left at that point, and although quite stressful at first, it allowed me to get an introduction to the studio and the atmosphere. 

A week and a half later, they contacted me to tell me I’d been accepted. Only five interns were selected later for the 8-week summer internship.

What it’s like being an intern at Dneg?

The main aim of the internship was to introduce us to the DNEG pipeline with their tools and workflow; their goal is give aspiring artists a chance to experience a major VFX house, and it’s a time-saver for them to prepare us for working on their pipeline during the internship.

Our trainer and supervisor was Jahirul Amin, a CG and VFX Trainer, skilled in a wide range of fields of image production. You can find out more about him here:

During the first few weeks, Jahirul explained the DNEG pipeline and tools in a series of workshops with us. To be honest, the first week is challenging for interns! The organization is so precise and unique to the studio that there was a lot to take in and re-learn. But the logic began to emerge from the second week. They were very attentive to our learning journey and gave good explanations of how the studio is run. They also provide an online platform, a bit like a Wikipedia or Google, with all sorts of information about their creative process, with video tutorials and articles. We were also strategically-placed in rooms with people from our area of expertise, so we could ask questions and get feedback from someone from our specialization at any moment.

Everything was carefully thought out and supervised so that we acquired as much knowledge as possible in two months, and to inspire us to return later.

What were your tasks as an intern?

I thought that as an intern in a big studio like DNEG I’d be given “trainee tasks”, but not at all. They gave us a whole project to do, and this way we learnt a lot and followed the DNEG pipeline, so it was very informative.

Our trainer assigned us to a group of five, and a project. Our mission: to create an asset of a female vampire that hadn’t eaten for hundreds of years.

I was in charge of sculpting the vampire. While we were working on our vampire project, we were allowed to contribute to details of real shows in production, and this enabled me to see how the supervisors handed over the retakes to colleagues upstream, how exacting they were about each and every aspect. 

Our schedule also included different workshops; rigging of props, procedurals on Houdini, Roto in Nuke in compositing… and all of this while presenting the different DNEG tools.

Our trainer also presented sessions on how to capture Live Data on Set: How to shoot HDRI, photogrammetry, texture capture…

What did you learn the most?

I learned to do a groom on Houdini. I couldn’t have hoped for better, since it was the very tool I wanted to test. What’s more, in the room where I was, there were two TD Grooms, and the Groom Supervisor. So whenever I was stuck on something in Houdini, I knew who to turn to.

J’ai donc appris à faire du groom sur Houdini. Je ne pouvais pas espérer mieux, étant donné que c’était le prochain outil sur lequel je voulais tester le groom. De plus, dans la salle ou j’étais, il y a deux Groom TD, et le Superviseur Groom. Donc dès que j’étais bloquée sur Houdini, je savais alors vers qui me tourner.

A group of interns DNEG VFX studio

The Substance & Marvelous Designer Apparel Creation Contest: David & Diana

This competition involved dressing and texturing a set of clothes for a model, David or Diana, using the software Marvelous Designer and Substance Painter.

At first, we needed to pick an concept for the clothes we wanted to make. I wanted to make something dynamic and original, because creativity was one their main criteria. The idea of a Venetian outfit came to mind quickly, because with the voluminous dresses, large hats and capes, there was something very dynamic to be done there. Also, the position of the model helped me to make a sceptre as an accessory.

It was a good exercise on Marvelous Designer, because the Venetian costumes are quite complex, with many “layers” of fabrics like flounces, lace, and hoods. And to make the dress and cape look good in movement, I played a lot with the wind effect included in the software.

On Substance Painter, I wanted to start with soft colours, reminiscent of a nocturnal atmosphere, with an airy aspect. I created lunar motifs, a gilded fabric for the luxurious aspect, as well as a flower on top of the hat to break up the overly two-tone nature of the blue and yellow colours.

It was the first competition I entered, and it taught me a lot. After school I’d like to turn to character creation and hair & fur. But I’m also very interested in cloth, especially after having participated in this competition.

Click on the image to see Julie Bijjou’s Artstation profile.

Venetian 3D figure winner Julie Bijjou