Interview with Rhiannon Wilhelmi

New Dreamworks animation Over The Hedge follows a group of anthropomorphic animals struggling to adapt as sprawling suburbia threatens their way of life. Layout artist Rhiannon Wilhelmi sympathises – born in Newport, she now lives and works in sunny Los Angeles. “It’s very different,” she says, “I certainly like it here. You get a lot of choices of things to do, and everything is at your disposal within an hour. You can go to the beach, go to the mountains, you can go skiing, you see stars everywhere; it’s a different sort of life.”

Having worked on Shark Tale, Over The Hedge and the upcoming Kung Fu Panda, Rhiannon’s CV is increasingly impressive, but she’s modest about how she got this far. “It was by chance. An opportunity opened up, and I just worked hard, and progressed as things went along.” She’s equally reserved when asked how she competes for (and gets!) new animating jobs. “Those are the sorts of things I’m never very good at. Fortunately, I’ve been in the industry long enough that there are a lot of people who know me, and enjoy working with me, so I usually have lots of people putting in a good word for me. Which is helpful.” Even first thing in the morning, she’s so friendly and enthusiastic that it’s not hard to believe that. Rhiannon describes the animation process as a “pipeline” that every shot passes through. “A shot starts in layout, goes to animation and effects, and then lighting. Each shot goes through the pipeline the same way, and then we have meetings to discuss how everyone wants things to work.” Her job is all but synonymous with ‘cinematographer’: “We take the sets, do set dressing, and final cameras, and we sort of set up the shot for the animators.” It’s not as glamorous as one might expect – despite the big names attached to a project like Over The Hedge, animators don’t get much opportunity to make friends with them: “We normally tend to work more with our department heads.” So she hasn’t been out partying with, say, William Shatner? “Unfortunately not! That would be cool, though! Sometimes we have a screening with them, if we’re lucky.”

With all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, does Rhiannon ever miss home? “I do miss the green, hilly grass. We have a lot of concrete here. I get a little homesick sometimes, but that’s what aeroplanes are for.”

IMDB link

No comments: