In-Ha Rödiger

Interview In-Ah Rödiger, Senior Animator at Sony imageworks

In-Ha Rödiger

We’ve the pleasure to meet In-Ah Rödiger, Senior Animator at Sony Imageworks  during THU festival and we’re happy to share with our readers this interview about her carrier path and the industry.

IT’S ART :  Hi In-Ah, it’s a real pleasure to speak with you again after THU and the perfect moment to have a look back to your past experiences. Can you give us a brief overview of the companies / works you’ve been involved before joining Sony Pictures Imageworks ?

In-Ah Rödiger – I started at Framestore back in 2004 on ‘HarryPotter, the Goblet of Fire’ as a Junior Animator just after finishing my education at the Gobelins and Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg.

After that I worked at a games company, Guerrilla Games in Amsterdam NL, for a year on ‘Killzone 2’. The gaming world and cleaning up motion capture data was not very exciting to me, so I decided to get back into film. I joined a small local production called ‘The 7 of Daran – Battle of Pareo Rock’. We were a tiny team on this ambitious project and a a first time Animation Supervisor I learned a lot about people managment and filtering client notes for my animation team and keeping them motivated.

I jumped at the chance to rejoin Framestore for ‘The Tale of Despereaux’ and then later ‘Where the Wild Things Are’.

When I left to join Double Negative for ‘Iron Man 2’ and ‘Paul’ they were already starting to work on ‘John Carter’, so there was a lot of hired people that joined and had no work waiting for them when the project pushed for a few months. It felt like there was too many fish in a too small pond! They started culling the teams and firing people on a monthly basis, which was a pretty awful experience.

IA –  Since Jan. 2011, you’ve joined Sony Pictures Imageworks as a Senior Animator. Can you explain what’s the daily job of a Senior Animator in such a company ?

IAR – I usually grab my tea and start the day checking my ‘dashboard’, an intranet page where I can see all the shots assigned to me and the latest notes. We have different review times on each show, where the animation director looks at the shots we are working on and either gives notes or pases them on to the director for his notes. if you have hit all the right changes and notes your shot will be marked ‘final’ which means it leaves the anim department and gets handed off to lighting and fx.


On that same dashboard page you can also check the bid days, which is the time that got allocated for you to finish the animation. This can vary from over 10 days for a very complicated shot, and down to 0.5 days for something simple. Having said that this is always just a guidline, but it doesn’t hurt trying to stay within the margins if you manage to avoid curve balls such as last minute client changes that throw over your whole animation.

At then end of the day I fill out my ‘timecard’ (if I remember), this is another intranet page at SONY that logs your hours and determines your pay at the end of the week. This is the first company I have been at that uses this system, a bit like punching in and out every day.

IA –  You’ve worked on full animated movie like Hotel Transylvania and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and more ‘traditional movie’ , VFX oriented  . Can you explain the differences ( if any ) to work on a full animated movie or a movie including manyVFX shots?

IAR – There are huge differences between a full CG film like ‘Cloudy’ and working on a VFX film such as ‘Oz’. The full CG project gives you a lot of freedom, full CG sets, lights, characters- eveything is ‘easy’ to modify in terms of a shot set up. In VFX there is often a real life human moving and acting that you are trying to animate to. You have to integrate the character in a ‘real’ environment, so that comes with its own set of techinical challenges. And in a VFX film the animation style is mostly based in realism, you can’t often go bendy and stretchy like in a CG cartoon for example. Also there is a certain amount of character traits you might try to incorporate from the voice actor on VFX films, full CG cartoons are much more free in that aspect.


IA –  Can you speak of your work for on Hotel Transylvania ? What was the hardest part to deal with ? Why ?

IAR – The biggest challenge was to hit the graphic and extreme poses Genndy, the director, wanted. Simply because the rigs where not capable of stretching and bending all that far! So the best thing to do was literally break the rig, mold the mesh, pull on vertices, create extra blendshapes until to made it work. Some animators created a new shape for each frame on the shots they were working on.


IA –  As an animator, what do you think is the most important to focus on for the audience ?

IAR – Oh, I think when you go to see a film, animated or not, you want to be entertained by a good engaging performance and a solid story that keeps you on the edge of your seat of has you laughing out loud. The audience should just sit back and enjoy! Sure if you go to a screening with someone who worked on an animated film you need to ask them to nudge you when their stuff is coming up, or they might do that already anyway… and don’t go for popcorn or even blink, you might miss something an animator worked on for weeks and weeks!

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