Meet The Team: Portia
Animation is a fascinating and dynamic industry that requires a team of talented and passionate individuals to bring projects to life. At our company, we are fortunate to have a fantastic Producer named Portia Wilson, who possesses the empathy, kindness, and skills necessary to ensure our animation projects run smoothly and successfully.
Portia’s background includes working on several animation projects, including the classic children’s TV show, The Wombles. Her experience working on such an iconic show is a testament to her talent and dedication to the animation industry. She has also had the opportunity to work on a Tim Burton project, Corpse Bride, further highlighting her expertise in the field.
Portia tells us “I’ve white-water rafted down the Kali Gandaki River in Nepal, camel trekked in Rajasthan’s vast desert and driven 5,000 miles into Australia’s outback. I have many memories of fabulous things I’ve done in my five decades on this earth, but one of the most transformative experiences was working on Tim Burton’s stop-motion animated film, Corpse Bride.
I was thrilled to get the job. Having worked for many years on long-form stop-motion series, I remember walking around the magnificent sets at 3 Mills and being blown away by the scale and flamboyance of the sets and puppets. It was so well orchestrated and impressive; I immediately thought, “This is fantastic – I’m going to love this!”
At the time, I didn’t grasp what a huge impact this film would have on animated features. It was the first stop-motion animated film to be shot digitally and transformed the way that 3D Stop Motion was shot from then onwards. This was thanks to a wonderful camera department headed by Pete Kozachik and post-team headed by Chris Lebenzon.
The puppets were amazing, and beautifully designed by the highly esteemed team at Mackinnon and Saunders. They seemed vast and elegant to me, some standing around 30cm tall. They were incredibly sophisticated, with intricate facial mechanics built in, enabling the characters to display a wide range of emotions.
Being on the production team, I was at the heart of the planning and scheduling discussions with the different departments. The vast board showing the shooting schedule for the animators on the sometimes 30-plus stages/sets was very impressive and, I must say, slightly daunting.
My overriding memory is of the wonderful, talented animators I was so lucky to work with. I’m forever in awe of their skill, expertise, and patience! I had worked with talented animators before on my series work, and many of the same animators also worked on Corpse, but all the stops came out, and the international team that was brought together meant that the results were breathtaking.
Some of the shots were incredibly intricate and took literally weeks to complete. The average count was around 6 seconds per week per animator. Checking in with the animators on each set every day meant I was on hand to watch their journey through the different shots. The sweeping staircase shots, the intricate veil shots! Lots of camera moves, and lots of multi-layered factors to consider. Wow!
Meeting Ray Harryhausen when he visited at 3 Mills Studios was a great day for all the crew. He was charming, made time to speak to everyone, and was supportive and encouraging.
Shortly after finishing Corpse Bride, I gave birth to my first and only child and moved to the Kent coast to bring her up. My career in feature films was cut short, and I started my own photographic business – until I answered an advert from a local animation studio (who knew?) and am now relishing being back in the world of animation once more, currently mostly making commercials – but the world of features still beckons.”
We are proud to have Portia on our team. With her extensive knowledge and experience, she is always ready to guide our younger crew members and provide them with the guidance they need to excel in the industry.