Following the inspirational success of Wonder Woman, we thought we would spotlight some of the women at Dneg that continue to inspire us daily.
Meet our very own Wonder Woman, Zoe Cranley. As the CG Supervisor for our work on the film, we thought she would be the perfect first candidate to catch in our Lasso of Truth!
What drew you to a career in VFX?
Growing up I loved art, particularly drawing and painting, but I didn’t know how I could use it as a career. I also had a strong interest in computing, both from a video games point of view and the programming side. It was when I first saw Toy Story though that I became really fascinated and inspired. Immediately I thought ‘That’s it – I want to learn how to do that!’ So from then I started focusing the rest of my education towards that goal.
How did you get into the Business?
Finding a university course was easy – Bournemouth University had a great degree course – but getting onto the course was much harder! I was lucky to gain a place and 3 years later graduated with a degree in computer visualization and animation. I then had to find a way to actually get paid for it! As desperate as I was to work on a full feature animation, at the time, opportunities in the UK were quite limited. VFX was really starting to boom in London so it seemed an obvious choice to try and work within a visual effects house and later make the leap from more film visual effects into animation. Double Negative offered me a junior position as a render wrangler, which was a great door opener into the 3d department. 12 years later, I still love film VFX and I haven’t left!
Women are still under-represented in the VFX industry – why do you think that is and what can we do to attract more women to join the industry?
It’s a complex one.
We need to actively reach out and talk to the younger generation of girls. School age, when you are trying to figure out what path to take for your career, is the perfect time. Being able to break the illusion of what our industry is or isn’t, is vital if we want to promote entry to the field. There are also a lot of very technically minded women in the company. I work with some fantastic female programmers. They are definitely in the minority though and I think that comes from a perception that it’s ‘not for girls’. We need to shatter this nonsensical idea.
Another aspect is that some women and girls are put off following an education in technical areas, e.g. mathematics, physics and computer science, as they don’t know how they could use them as a career. They just don’t know it’s a possibility! We need to highlight and promote that it very much is. Visual effects is very diverse and offers many different career options; production, artist, editorial, human resources, technical, the list goes on. It’s also a career path that covers so many different skills within one job. I myself use an endless list of skills daily – a spread between technical demands and artistic choices, what we do daily is pretty unique! And it’s this balancing act which makes everyday different, it’s one of the major things I love about this job.
It’s the diversity of skills that flows down into education. Some university courses try and cover all aspects, which is great as you have the full spectrum, but it can be hard if you are more creatively minded. As such, I think, the thought of learning complex maths and programming puts women off. All I would say is don’t let it be a deterrent, you may just need to study this for a few years and then, after that, you can specialize in your chosen areas.
What are your thoughts about the success of Wonder Woman and what do you think it means to the industry?
Like any project I get to work on as a CG supervisor, I’m very proud of all the work the team produced. We made some beautiful imagery and it makes me happy that so many people are going to cinemas to see it. It does make it even sweeter though that the film is getting such great reviews!
We’ve needed a female super hero for a long time to really inspire and be an inspirational figure for the younger girls growing up. Given the box office records, identifying so many female viewers hopefully hardens this thought.
Patty Jenkins had a very strong vision from the start of what she wanted ‘Wonder Woman’ to be. The fact that she carried this through to the end so successfully is a fantastic tribute to her and her work. I feel privileged to have been able to be part of making this film.
What would be your advice to the next generation of women coming into the industry?
Be determined. If it’s what you want to do, do it and stick with it. I don’t think the ratio of men / women will change any time soon though. You will be outnumbered but think of that as a positive. Be proud of being the only woman in a room or in a meeting! You are there because you worked hard; you have earned that seat so show the world what you’re made of.