29/04/20 • Life in Kilkenny

Keeping spirits up during Covid19

Our animation studio is known for its strong sense of team spirit among its crew members. So how are we surviving as we work apart from each other?

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Our animation studio is famous for its strong culture and sense of team spirit. Working from home has been a tough adjustment to make. However, six weeks in, we have managed to create a whole new sense of virtual collaboration.

In the run-up to lockdown, we were already putting plans in place for the new way of working. We revised our benefits and updated them for the current work situation – such as implementing a new online GP service. We also rolled out a number of new corporate engagement initiatives led by the HR team and facilitated through Microsoft Teams. To date, these have included creative competitions, daily health and well-being tips, Easter vouchers for treats from local businesses, workouts, regular video updates and weekly guides which cover various work-from-home topics.

While such initiatives are to be expected from any responsible company that can feasibly do so in the present climate, perhaps what is less expected is the level of creativity we have seen among our crew members when it comes to engaging with one another. Seeing all the different Teams channels and a communal whiteboard where crew can leave messages for each other is a real boost to everyone’s motivation. It is also heartening to see how crew members have adapted usual social events to the new online world.

John Atkinson, 2D Animator

One such crew member is John Atkinson, who usually runs a session in our studio every Friday lunchtime called ‘Cartoons in the Crew Room’. Since we have been on lockdown, we unfortunately don’t get to have this social hour with one another. At least, not physically.

Cartoons in the Crew Room was born back in 2018, as an excuse for John to play his chosen DVDs each week. Since then it has grown into a weekly feature where the Lighthouse crew comes together to watch all kind of weird and wonderful offerings from the world of animation. Now we are on Lockdown, John uses an online tool that allows viewers to log on and watch the same content remotely. We asked John to tell us a bit more about this awesome idea for bringing crew together.

John’s work-from-home station

So, John, how long have you been working with Lighthouse?

I first came to Lighthouse in 2018, and returned earlier this year after wandering off for a while. It’s nice being back in Kilkenny!


You’ve been running Cartoons in the Crew Room all that time – how do you choose them?

I’d like to say I have it all planned out, but I usually pick them at the last minute! I’ve seen a few cartoons in my time so it’s pretty easy.


If you had to choose your top 3 favourite cartoons that you’ve shown, what would they be and why?

I loved sharing the 1993 ‘Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog’ cartoon, as that show had a big influence on seven-year-old me. It has some great character designs by Milton Knight, including the best version of Dr Robotnik: the big, dumb, angry one! We also enjoyed Priit Parn’s crazy short film ‘Aeg Maha (Time Out)’, starring a character that I think is a cat, or maybe a fox…. or a raccoon? Whatever he is, he makes me laugh. FLCL was great fun to watch too, because… well, it’s got big robots punching each other. What more could you ask for?


How have you found running the Cartoons (Not) in the Crew Room virtually?

I do miss hanging out with my co-workers, but on the other hand, I can now run the show in my pyjamas, so it’s all good.


What is the reaction like from crew – have you had many logging on?

Quite a few people tune in each week which is really great. I have no idea who exactly is watching but it’s still nice to see!


In general, how have you found working from home?
To be honest, it’s starting to drive me a bit bonkers! I’m much happier working in a studio with my fellow animators.


Do you have any advice for others working from home?
Umm, let’s see… excercise, get some fresh air and keep in touch with your friends. Hey, maybe I’ll try some of those!


We are looking forward to being able to attend these sessions physically in our studio again. Find out how we are preparing the studio for our return in our upcoming blog, and in the meantime check out John’s own website johncartoons.com!


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