” Women who have succeeded in technology deserve recognition: They are an inspiration for everyone, demonstrating what can be achieved through creativity and hard work.” – Fast Company.
This interview is the second in SiliconCaribe’s weekly series of Caribbean Women in Tech where we profile and celebrate their ambitions and accomplishments. We also seek to inspire others to view technology industry as a career and entrepreneurship path. We’ll be publishing one interview every Wednesday for the next two months.
We continue our series with Corretta Singer, one of the Caribbean’s few Animators. Let’s see what’s on her mind.
SC What are you working on right now?
CS: I’m working on another animated short. I have been working on it, on and off, for the past year and a half, between paying jobs… It’s always great to get paid…because, despite what people think, creatives cannot survive on smiles and pats on the back. However, working on my personal projects gives me unlimited freedom of creativity and allows me to showcase what I am truly capable of; something that often gets stifled during the client’s “design-by-committee” proceedings.
Specifically, I have been playing around with “Normal Mapping”…a technique used by game developers to keep detail up in their models while keeping polygon count down. (3D models are made of multiple polygonal faces)
SC: What does your typical day look like?
CS: I usually wake up thinking of something I can do to challenge myself, something that I may not have ever attempted before, something that I can feel accomplished about at the end of the day…but for the most part, my day pretty much looks like two computer monitors…one on which I work and the other with which I surf the web or get emails from clients.
I hate to admit it, but I spend a great deal of time in front of the computer… it’s a hazard of the job I do. If not for things like Facebook, skype or the phone, I fear I would not have any semblance of a social life at all. Ok, ok…it’s not THAT bad. I do however, look forward to any opportunity that invites me away from the eyestrain and the whirring of mental machinery that 3D animation requires.
SC: What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
CS: Firstly, I do commercials for a living…something that most people assume is a quick way to get rich doing what you love…it is not. I’ve had my fair share of misogynists, bigots and corporate cheap-skates. Oh where to begin…. There was the four month drudgery of torment and suffering that was a popular cola company (not Coca Cola) because the client could not figure out what they wanted. However, I think the worse was a telecom company….that I now refer to as “The Sour people”. It was the worse, because it affected my health so badly…late nights, days with no sleep, constant changes and ridiculous deadlines.
I would send things to the client in the morning that they “absolutely loved” only to hear by evening that they hated everything…Long story short, I was given blood pressure medication for 3 months after, and not a free Blackberry in sight. So I came to the realization that my health should be my number one priority. I am my most important asset. Technology is useless if the human behind the machine is unable to operate it efficiently. Technology is a wonderful tool, but, no matter how complex it gets, there will always have to be a human around somewhere and whereas a computer does not need sleep…people do.
SC: Name 3 Tech trends that excite you?
CS: There is so much out there that makes this such an exciting time to live in…but let’s narrow it down:
- Augmented reality, amazing new technology that can tie something like a simple piece of paper (ie. A business card) to amazing, eye-popping, interactive graphical displays.
- Tablet computers, a lightweight way to have computing power at your fingertips.
- Lastly, spatial gesture technology (Kinect, Wii etc) I especially like the spatial gestures tech because there is now the possibility of making motion capture for animation, more accessible. Already, people have been using the Kinect to capture motion data to animated rigs. For me, it will hopefully make key-framing, less of a hassle or even, a thing of the past.
SC: How do you bring ideas to life?
CS: Some of my best ideas, start out on a piece of lowly paper and a number 2 pencil. Most of my best ideas come when I am not looking for an idea at all. My current animation project began as a random sketch on the edge of a piece of paper that I ignored for months. That sketch then became the main character for my story. There is a vast amount of processes to go through before I get to a final product, Modeling, UV mapping, sculpting (digital), texturing, lighting, keyframing, rendering and compositing. The best ideas are best brought to life with time and attention to detail. Also, I am not afraid to make mistakes with my craft. I figure the sooner I make them, the sooner I can learn and move on.
SC: What inspires you?
CS: I draw my inspiration from many places…People, TV, music, nature, Technology…and video games. Sometimes, if I get into a mental block, I start playing a video game…sometimes I find the answer to a problem with my animations during game-play. It is also a good way to see how game-developers integrate new technology with advanced gaming engines and AI. Other times, on a random day, I might be inspired by a rock or an ant crawling across the floor. In being creative, one must seek inspiration from everything and anything. It is never something I find when I go looking for it, but it always seems to find me when I least expect it.
SC: What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
CS: I once made the mistake of being too trusting. I learned that money can quickly blur the lines between friend and foe…and it’s an “every man for himself” world. I do not want to seem bitter or jaded…the experience just made me a little more aware of the ways of the world, and made me appreciate the people I CAN trust, even more.
SC: What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
CS: Video games, why is no one in Jamaica creating video games? Why is there not a Jamaican video game or App where you can dodge potholes on a busy road, all while having to be a taxi-driver, and pick up and drop off passengers? We have coders around I am sure. Look at the success of games like Angry Birds or Minecraft.
SC: What do you read every day, and why?
I try to keep up with current news, happenings and trends on the internet. The News is the first thing I check before signing in to my email. I may be stuck behind the computer, but I have to read up and stay up-to-the-time with the world.
SC: What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
CS: I’m not much of a book person…and when I do read a book, it usually involves flights of fantasy and not hardcore business tech (Chronicles of Narnia anyone?). I find most of what I need on the internet…However, If you can, grab a copy of a National Geographic Magazine. The photos are always amazing and the articles are mind-blowing, eye-opening and awe-inspiring. It reminds me that the world and universe we live in is an amazing, mysterious and sometimes frightening place.
SC: What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
CS: My Wacom Intuos graphic tablet. I do not know how I managed without it. As a creative moving with the digital age, it is a must have! I love the ability to translate the feel of drawing traditionally to a digital medium…it’s a whole lot less messy too.
SC: Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?
CS: @layerphase: Always sharing interesting articles and quotes on design and tech. @iVU tv: Jamaica’s first online TV network @STOOSHPR: A spot for networking with global multi-industry active individuals.
SC: Who would you love to see interviewed on SiliconCaribe ?
CS: Camille Selvon Abrahams, the founder of Animae Caribe, the caribbean’s first animation and new media festival, based in Trinidad. Camille has opened the Caribbean to the possibilities of all things animation.
SC: When is the last time you L.O.L ? What caused it ?
CS: Today. While watching silly cartoons on youtube of course.
SC: Where can you be found online?
CS: I can be found on Facebook, @IamCorretta on twitter, or you can check my animation blog at correttasinger.com to see some insights into my thought processes, techniques, experiences and production of 3D animation.
Thanks for having me
Corretta’s Blog Profile
Bah Weep Granah Weep Ninni Bong! My name is Corretta Singer. I am a self taught animator currently living and working in Jamaica. I’ve won a few awards for my work and even been fortunate enough to have one of my animated shorts air on Nickelodeon. I was born in Switzerland and came to Jamaica at age 5 where I have been living ever since. Art has always been in my blood and thankfully I was encouraged to pursue my dreams of becoming an animator.
The animation industry in Jamaica is in its embryonic stages and there are a lot of ups and downs in trying to get it where it needs to be. Jamaica is rife with incredible talent, but ppl are spread far and wide. I hope to perhaps gather a few animators, writers and illustrators to collaborate with me on this project. This blog is basically to keep track of my process and expose those who choose to join the project. It’s gonna be a trip, I’m sure, so stay tuned and enjoy.
Caribbean Women in Tech Facebook Group. Join and Tell Friends.
This group is “for Caribbean women in the technology industry-whether you are an entrepreneur, policy consultant, web developer, web designer, professional blogger and tweeter, social media professional, animator or corporate tech professional. Whether you are in the Caribbean or Caribbean Diapsora. Join the conversation. Share your stories, interesting links and Spread the knowledge. ”