28/03/23 • News & Happenings

The Lightbulb Moment

With Neasa Purcell

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Neasa Purcell, Assistant Editor

This month’s Lightbulb Moment comes from Neasa Purcell, an assistant editor who almost became a lawyer. While studying law may not be the obvious gateway into the animation industry, it was a chance conversation Neasa had with her fellow students that took her by the hand and led her right through that gate and all the way to our door. And we’re so glad it did! 

Growing up, Neasa had always loved animation, so the decision wasn’t completely out of the blue. One show in particular had her hooked… 

Over to you, Neasa! 

My lightbulb moment was the moment I realised I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I was tired, my bones hurt from the cold and rain, and I realized I was absolutely miserable studying law. I met some friends for hot chocolate in our canteen, and I began telling some story about how Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron was my eyebrow inspiration and amidst the laughing and the chats about animation, I understood I’d rather be working as an editor, and I wanted it to be in animation. I remembered all the practice I had could be a career and that I could be happy and earn a living. So, I dropped out and made my side passion my career goal.

Animation was always a massive part of my life. From Disney princesses to Dreamwork’s The Prince of Egypt, animation was my life translator. I always found a character that reflected how I felt at the time and used them as a channel for my own emotions. The flow of the story, the swell of the music and the timing of pauses were all aspects of the stories I hyper-focused on.

The real awakening was Avatar: The Last Airbender. I worshipped this show. The style, the character arcs, the martial art styles animated and the music in it. Its animation style is mostly hand drawn and done by studios in South Korea. The style is lovely, but it’s the detail and respect that makes me awestruck. In every culture there is a different fighting style that’s inspired by a martial art. The animators studied real martial artists for an authentic rendering of the action scenes. I trained in Tae-kwon-do for years, so I always enjoyed this aspect.

It’s such an impressive show, not just for animation but for its ability to tackle issues such as war, genocide, climate change, and grief whilst remaining palatable for children and true to its serious topics. It helped me personally navigate my own grief as a child. I’m rambling now, but I love this show so much, it kickstarted my analyzation of media, especially animation and gave me the interest I have in writing and editing I have today. It’s an inspiration to me, even after fourteen years. It’s a near-perfect guideline for story and character arcs.

I began watching any fan edits I could, edits that would change the tone of the show completely. Manipulate the clips into a new story/genre. I was enamored. My brother worked in animation and recognized all the fan videos I was watching meant I was interested in editing. So, I began when I was twelve, on a terrible free software. But I loved it. Looking back, animation was the only real path I could have taken. Law was just a sidetrack.

I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t seen Avatar: The Last Airbender to watch it. There’s something there for everyone and with each view you’ll form a new opinion.

Like this month’s Lightbulb Moment? Then stay ‘tooned’ for even more of the good stuff to come!  

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