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Different styles: Get to know previs artist Nadya Sugiarto

Nadya Sugiarto has a vision. The previs artist has worked on a number of different projects, including the Blue Sky Studio release Spies In Disguise, but her most notable project has been her most recent: Gatcha! The short film was made in collaboration with Susan Huang and Stacy Moon, and showcases Sugiarto’s talent for animation and visual storytelling.

Film Daily was fortunate enough to sit down with Sugiarto and discuss her process, her artistic inspiration, and what she has planned for the future. Here’s what she had to say:

Tell us about your history as a previs artist. How did you start your journey?

I started my journey as a previs artist back in 2020. Prior to that, I studied at Ringling College of Art and Design, majoring in Computer Animation. I graduated that year during the Covid period. It was tough to land a job back then because a lot of productions were paused. For the first month after graduating, I freelanced as a CG Generalist at Neko Production. Around August 2020, MPC (or Technicolor Pre-Productions back then) contacted me for Previs Artist position. I have been working in previs since then, jumping between different studios such as MPC, Halon Entertainment, and Proof Inc.

Who were the artists that influenced most growing up?

When I was a kid, before I knew anything about CG and 3D animation, I loved reading manga, watching animation, and drawing. My favorite comic artist back then was a group called Clamp. They made this popular manga, Cardcaptor Sakura, which was basically my childhood. I also love their other works, including Tsubasa Chronicle and XXXHolic. Their drawing style is so detailed and intricate, and their storytelling is complex yet wholesome in my opinion!

You worked as the technical animator Spies In Disguise! What was that experience like?

It was definitely a great experience! I learned a lot from my supervisor, mentor, and peers. It was my first job in the industry, so it’s a special memory for me. That role trained my eyes to look at animation more in detail to the pixel polish level since it has to do with Quality Control before the animation is sent to other departments. I got to coordinate with people from other departments on some shots, making adjustments to the animation while maintaining the original animator’s intention and making sure the other departments could do their work as smoothly as possible. 

Animation can be an individual task as often as it is a collaboration. What do you enjoy most about collaborating with other artists?

Generating ideas! Bouncing ideas and brainstorming with peers is always a great way to explore and discover ideas that I would have never thought of. That includes ideas for the animation itself and creative problem solving. 

You recently completed your thesis film Gatcha! What makes it stand out from some of your previous work?

Gatcha! was the first film that I co-directed with two of my teammates, Stacy Moon and Susan Huang. It was the first time the three of us collaborated to make a short film. What makes it stand out from my previous works is the length of the film. Prior to Gatcha!, we had only created short animations, which were probably around 30 to 40 seconds long at most. Gatcha! is about 3.5 mins long. We tried to combine different styles of animation too – taking advantage of everyone’s different strengths.

You worked on Gatcha! alongside Susan Huang and Stacy Moon. What distinct strengths do you feel each of you brought to the film?

Susan is a great visual development artist! She brought a lot of appeal in the design of Gatcha! worldbuilding as well as the characters. She is also knowledgeable about Japanese culture, architecture, and design, so it worked perfectly with Gatcha!. Stacy is a great storyteller and 3D modeler! She is very passionate about storytelling and always strives to make the story the best version it could be. She is a well-rounded person and does well in different aspects of 3D. As for me, my strength was animation and technical problem solving. I strived to make the animation as polished as could be with our skill at that time. I was also the go to person if Stacy or Susan had some technical problems. 

What is the biggest thing you want audiences to take away from the film?

Gatcha! is about what it means to be a hero, which in this case, is to be altruistic and able to sacrifice oneself for someone else and the greater good.

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is coming out in theater October 14th, 2022!

What has been your greatest professional achievement?

As of now, I think being part of the movie magic and seeing the audience react to the work that we did have been the greatest joy in my professional journey. I would never forget the first time I sat in the theater watching Spies in Disguise and hearing people’s reaction when they watched the film. The laughter and the smile that the film brought made all the hard work worth it!

What about a professional setback? What did you learn?

I am being optimistic when I said this, but I don’t think I have experienced a major setback in my career so far. I have gotten a lot of rejections when I applied for jobs after I graduated – which did make me upset back then.  But, looking back, I don’t really have any regrets about it. I think of it as life directing me towards a better path for me.

What advice do you have for aspiring previs artists?

Something that I’m currently trying to do more myself is to watch more films and broaden my film library. If there are specific scenes that I really like, I would save those clips and analyze them. For example, in complex scenes with complicated camera moves, I would try to imagine how I would tackle that shot if I were to pre-vis that scene. What kind of camera constraints and set up would I use? For more subtle and emotional scenes, what makes the emotion read so well beside the actor’s performance? What kind of composition does the cinematographer use? What kind of color palette and lighting set up do they use?

Is there a project or a studio you’d like to work with in the future?

I have always been a fan of the Harry Potter, Lords of the Rings, and A Song of Ice and Fire franchise, so it would be cool if I ever got to work on any of those franchises! 

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