A couple of weeks ago we announced a reunion of the first Escape Pod from 2005, and last Friday we got them together. Pictured above are the Podi on their return to Escape, from whence they were jettisoned seven years ago.
From left to right they are; Chris Bradwell, Nicole Gabriel, Sam Carlisle, Adam Dewhirst, Atanas Atanasov, Paul Harrison, Guy Buckley, David Kent, Sergio Xisto & Mak Knighton.
These pioneering individuals were plucked straight from their Maya course, and employed in an experimental unit designed to create 3D assets for computer games. The Escape Pod was devised as a means to give escapees practical work experience, but crucially they got paid and a credit on the game. It was the perfect vehicle for launching new careers, and holds happy memories for all involved. As you can see from the pictures taken at the time by the organiser of the reunion, Adam Dewhirst, it seems the technology has changed more drastically than the people!
All of the group are doing very well for themselves, and still working in CG. So proof that Master of the Podi, now General Manager of Escape Studios Mark Cass, taught these young padawan well, and Escape’s courses are your first step to a successful career.
But enough of my ramblings; let’s hear from the returning Podi, in their own words…
"It was awesome catching up with the guys, finding out where everyone is, and how they are all getting on. The funny thing was meeting up after all this time, that it felt as if only a day or so had passed since we were last at Escape. I guess that shows how great a time it was, because we were all talking about it so fondly as if it was yesterday. The truth is, that on a good job, and in a good workplace, it’s not what you’re doing, but who you’re working with that makes it so special, and the Escape Pod was definitely something special. A big thanks to Escape, not only for bringing us all together seven years ago, but for being such gracious hosts of our little reunion, making a space for us to get together and for buying us a few drinks as well! Seven years ago we were all recent graduates from Escape, having no experience and all a little wet behind the ear, but talking to people now, it’s like a Who's Who of the games and VFX industry. I find it incredible to see how well people are doing, less than a decade on from our first little endeavour into the working world, and quite frankly really encouraging to think this many people are not only still working in CG, but succeeding too!"– Adam Dewhirst, Lead Modeller at Cinesite.
“The recent escapee reunion was fantastic; it was like stepping back in time as no one had really changed at all, even though it’s been quite a few years. I was very happy to hear that people had kept busy and were scattered about the CG industry still making their mark. It's quite crazy really when you think about it: a few years ago we were all just sitting in a classroom trying to learn this daunting computer graphics stuff, and now I regularly watch top movies, TV commercials and play video games, that were created by the same people I was learning with. I really appreciate the effort that Adam and Escape went to, in order for this little reunion to happen. It was super cool that we got to have a look inside Escape Studios again, the place looks great as always.” – Sergio Xisto, Modeller & Tracker at The Mill.
“Travelling down from Scotland was well worth it to meet up with good, genuine friends again, and have a well overdue catch up. My wife and I also enjoyed fitting in a weekend of being tourists in London of as well! Escape has enabled me to have not only a career I can be proud of, but also lifelong friends, which I’m thankful for. Cheers to that!”–Chris Bradwell, Managing Director of Live Visualisation Ltd.
"It was fantastic to catch up with old friends and to hear that they were all doing so well in their careers as well. We all got on so well during the Escape Pod outsourcing projects, it’s hard to believe that we've waited this long to have a reunion, here's to the next one! "–Guy Buckley, 3D Generalist and compositing at Bon Shonet.
“It was so good to see everyone at our Escape reunion on Friday night. Everyone has done so well and I’m very proud of what everyone has achieved. I’m working as a freelance 3D artist from home, so I really appreciated the opportunity to talk about 3D with other people who love it too! Not only was it a really great bonding and reminiscing evening, but also a good opportunity to network going forward. We also couldn't believe our eyes at how much Escape has grown since our days on Maya comprehensive. It’s amazing to see and now even better placed to help graduating students going forward. We love Escape!” – Nicole Gabriel, Freelance 3D Artist.
"Seven years ago I was sitting in a studio full of recent Escape graduates. We were faced with a problem as we had no real experience in the world of 3D, and were tasked with building a city - New York City! We were all nervous and had absolutely no idea how to proceed. After an interesting kick-start by our supervisor, we were off and running. Over the course of the first few weeks we developed practical, productive skills. We learned together and as each day passed we got faster. By the end of the job we were kicking back buildings at such a fast rate, that the client’s feedback loop was the only thing that slowed us down! For me it was a pivotal moment, because it became clear that I could do it, and could now make a lateral move in the industry. That group grew into friends and I track almost everyone to see how they are doing. I think it was a pivotal time for all of us, and this made our friendships stronger than the usual workplace ones. Together we all changed a little bit, for we built a city and then left to try and build our careers, and the cool thing is almost every single one of those guys has gone on to have a career in the CG industry. As we Americans say, that's a pretty good batting average. We have all stayed in touch; in fact I still work with some of those guys. They are my first calls when I look for people, and it was edifying to see most of them back together, and compare notes on our careers. What a great night last Friday was, the seven year circle is complete. Thanks guys." – Mak Knighton, Sequence Lead Maya Prime Focus.
"It was fantastic to catch up with everyone and see how well they're all doing! The 3 month outsouring venture with Escape was great experience, and absolutely vital in helping me land the job in games I wanted. I met some very talented artists as well as making good friends, who I don't see often enough! So a big thanks to all at Escape for making this happen.' Sam Carlisle, Outsourcing Manager Sumo Digital.
“It was great to see and speak to the folks, with whom I started my career.” – Atanas Atanasov, Modeller at Framestore.