17/02/21 • News & Happenings

New Transition Year Work Placement Programme

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“We think it’s really important for the kids to know that they live in a city with two massive animation studios” – Emilie Walmsley, Executive Producer



In a second-level education environment otherwise punctuated with exams and study, Transition Year offers students the chance to explore a variety of interests not found elsewhere on the curriculum.  One of the key components to the programme is the work experience placement, which provides students with exposure to career-oriented education. Lighthouse Studios has always recognised that such early access to opportunity is key for nurturing young talent. This year, we have been working behind the scenes to develop a robust work placement programme for students who wish to gain invaluable experience within the animation industry.  

Artwork by Hannah Prendergast

“We really wanted to start getting the local community involved,” says Emilie Walmsley, Executive Producer at Lighthouse and key driving force behind the programme. “We think it’s really important for the kids to know that they live in a city with two massive animation studios”.  

Based wholly online, the new work placement programme incorporates lectures from key crew members, Q&A sessions, character design work, storyboarding, script-reading and talks from guest speakers.  In January, the format was rolled out to a pilot group of Transition Year students. Among this group was Emilie’s own daughter, and it was her search for a suitable work placement that inspired the whole thing.  

Artwork by Coco Kenny

“What happened was that my daughter was looking for a work placement, and I just thought ‘why not try it out,’” said Emilie. “The thing is that we have had transition year students in the past, but never worked out a formula where it didn’t have an impact on crew, so we stopped doing it.” After approaching Kevin Quigley, Skills and Development Coordinator, the pair devised a format which they then ran past the guidance counsellor in Loreto, who suggested two other students to take part. The group was later joined by another two students from Kilkenny College, bringing the total number of participants up to five.  

Of course, being a pilot project, the format had to be a little flexible. “Because the students weren’t physically together and were only on the Zoom call with a lecturer, we noticed they were a little shy. We decided to start leaving the Zoom running so that they had a little time to actually speak to each other and get to know one another,” said Emilie. “We’re learning little things as we go.” 

Despite this, the feedback from the students was extremely positive. However, the programme would not have been as successful as it was without the input of a number of key members of the Lighthouse crew. After an initial onboarding conducted by Kevin and Louise Flannery, HR Manager, students were treated to lectures from: Director, Gilly Fogg; Assistant Director, Cliodhna Lyons; Line Producer, Martin Quaden; Art Director, Luca Centofanti; Layout Artist, Kate Korska; Lead Background Artist, Lily Bernard; Editor, Mark Gilleece; Lead Builds & Rigging Artist, Colm Dowling; Lead Scene Prep Artist, Christine Tong; Animation Supervisor, Tiago Rovida; and FX Artist, Antoine Clerc.  

Students were also given individual time to work on character design, storyboarding and background design. “We used Butler Gallery’s Wolfwalkers’ videos,” said Emilie, “and were very lucky to secure multi-Oscar nominated director, Cartoon Saloon’s Tomm Moore, and Heath Kenny, Chief Content Officer with Mercury Filmworks, to come and speak with them.” 

With the second bout of Transition Year work placements due in spring, the studio is eager to build on the success of the pilot programme. The spring programme will also be run virtually and is open to all secondary schools based in the county of Kilkenny. Admission will be competitive and may include portfolio submission.   

All enquiries about upcoming programmes should be directed to Learning and Development Specialist, Harry Harty, on [email protected]

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