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Yukai Du, talks us through her career and the way she approaches projects. It's a wonderful insight into an incredible creator.

Yukai Du: Text
Yukai Du
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She Drew That August 2019 Workshop

Organised by Hannah Lau-Walker
In collaboration with Julia Parfitt
Filmed at Nexus Studios

Yukai Du: Text
Yukai Du: Text


August 2019

Q : Throughout my animation career I’ve found that there are some things I like animating more than others, for instance, I love animating morphs making something really fluid and fun, whereas I find realistic walk cycles less exciting as they’re so technical. I was interested to know what it is you like to animate and how that relates to your work?

A : I do find myself enjoying more of the design process of animation, like style frames, storyboards, mood boards etc. It is probably because I’m an illustrator that I like to focus more on the colours and still composition. But yes, when it comes to something more technical, I would need help from other people who are better in those areas than me. That’s exactly what a director needs to do, to learn from others and bring a team together.
Q : Clients can vary from project to project, don’t feel like you need to name names, it would be great to get a sense of the difficulties that you can face when interacting with clients. What’s one of the more frustrating things you’ve been asked by a client?

A : I have been very lucky that most of my clients are very reasonable and their feedback did help me to improve my work. One of the more frustrating things was one of my clients asking me if I could NOT use my style and instead change it to something more vector-y looking two days before delivery.
Q : What’s something unexpected you’ve learned from making your own films? This may be something that you experienced in the making of your film or perhaps during the festival circuit.

A : I can’t remember very well now. I’m not very proud of this, because my last own film was back in 2015 which was my graduation film. As a student, almost everything was unexpected - I did solve a lot of technical problems which I had no clue about and I found a style that I’m still developing.
Q : Everyone has low points on jobs, and I feel it’s important to turn those low points into something you can learn from and grow with. Have you learnt something from a low point on a job that changed the way you worked?

A : Yes, I agree. I was used to taking on 4-minute long animation projects all by myself and didn’t want to let go of any bit of my process. The design, the production and the communication with clients made me extremely exhausted, I ended up compromising on the animation and made something I wasn’t 100% happy with. What I learnt is that I need to ask for help and let go of my process, although I’m still learning, I’m slowly changing the way I work and looking for people who could help me and let my producers do the communication parts with clients.
Q : Freelancers can get stuck in making the same mistakes from job to job, what advice would you give a freelancer?

A : It’s the way we work and not easy to avoid the same mistakes. When there’s quiet time, I would reflect on the way I work. Talking to people you worked with and asking for suggestions and feedback on your working process would definitely help. I do sometimes ask my agents/reps/producers for advice because a second opinion can be a very useful way to learn something you don’t know about yourself.
Do you have a software tip that changed your world?
A : A tip in Photoshop that I learnt from a freelancer when I worked full time. When I was colouring in-betweens in photoshop, I used the paint bucket and there are always these annoying little gaps between the outline and the fill because of the pixels. I used to use a brush to touch up the gaps bit by bit, but then he told me, I could use the magic wand to select the fill area and then expand the selected area to 2 pixels wider. And use paint bucket again, there are no more annoying gaps! Since then, I've made a shortcut key for ‘Select-Modify-Expand’ in Photoshop, it changed my world! If anyone knows any better tips, please do let me know!

Yukai Du: Text

Style Frame

Yukai Du created this style frame for our August Workshop. We use these styles frames as a jumping off point for our community to create animated work too. You can see the results to this animation challenge below.

Yukai Du Style Frame
Yukai Du: Image
Yukai Du Animation Challenge
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Yukai Du: Video Player
Yukai Du: Text
Yukai Du: Text
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