Pre-Production Supervisor in Marketing Art, Isabella Augusto, talks about the importance of teamwork to achieve excellent results.
Managing and leading people is a true challenge, sometimes as big or even bigger than the technical work itself. But for me, it’s also an incredibly motivating job. And here, at Wildlife, I have been learning how to build trust between manager and team.
My name is Isabella Augusto and I am a Pre-Production Supervisor in Marketing Art at Wildlife. I was born and raised in Minas Gerais and, after some mishaps and irresolutions along the way, I decided to move to São Paulo at the age of 20 to study Social Communication, with a Major in Radio and TV, at Anhembi Morumbi.
Yes, I started working as an Assistant Director on films, and soon after I migrated to the world of TV, acting as a Producer. But how did I take this career turn to manage a team of artists at Wildlife? Well, I’ll tell you more about it below.
FROM TV PRODUCTION TO ANIMATION PRODUCTION
I started working as an Intern while in college, moving quickly through the world of film direction, until I got a job in the production of the “Pânico” show (BAND TV station), where I worked for two years. I’ve always loved the world of TV, and I moved to São Paulo with the dream of working with it in mind, but unfortunately it was an experience that I would not like to relive.
I got disappointed at the time, but I still managed to draw positive things from that period. I learned to work and solve problems under pressure. I also learned to cope with the resources I had. Then, I worked on the “Polícia 24 Horas” show, from the production company Cuatro Cabezas, which was later purchased by Warner Bros.
I left TV Production, where the work was basically field work, chasing articles and interviews to fulfill the agenda, and also organizing pictures filmed in the studio, and I started working in a (theoretically) calmer environment, which is editing.
The show was cancelled in September 2014, and the entire team was dismissed. I did not know what to do for a while and, in order to keep active, I decided to study Executive Production at Academia Internacional de Cinema, still focusing on the television world. At that time, I decided to browse LinkedIn to see what the market had to offer. I met a director at Consulado, an animation production company in São Paulo. He invited me to do freelance work and then I went back to acting as a producer, as the studio was investing in live action at the time, and not just animation.
I worked at Consulado for five years and, during that time, I was asked to cover for the post-production coordinator’s vacation. I was a little apprehensive at first, since it was something completely new for me, but things turned out quite well, so I had my first contact with the 2D and 3D worlds. It was a totally different world and I started to enjoy it! At that time, I also took an MBA in Digital Marketing, as I believed that following the digital evolution of this area would be essential for the development of my career. And I was not wrong.
I learned so much at Consulado, in several aspects. The department coordinator was a great mentor! He inspired me to be the professional I am today. He taught me to balance the human and professional sides of the team. On the technical side, in addition to winning a scholarship at Ohio University (United States) in 2019 to improve my knowledge in project management, my time working at Consulado gave me all the background I have in video production team coordination, 2D and 3D animation, and the necessary tools and skills to make my way up to WildLife.
MY FIRST DAYS AT WILDLIFE: A NEW CHAPTER
When quarantine started, I had already started searching for a new opportunity. I felt that I couldn’t develop myself anymore, and the lack of a routine (yes, I love a good routine) with more fixed schedules and not so tight deadlines was beginning to weigh on my desire to seek a new professional challenge. I was already working remotely (because of social distancing) when a person from Wildlife contacted me on LinkedIn.
After some conversations and interviews, I received a proposal to act as pre-production supervisor and accepted. Although the process was quick, I was somewhat frightened when I first joined the company. I knew I would receive a warm welcome, but I had no idea what I was going to deal with.
One of the first things I thought when I arrived at Wildlife was: “How am I going to coordinate a team of people that I don’t know from a distance?” At some point I even thought I was not going to make it, but since I had decided to face the challenge, I would have to go through this – frightened or not.
During my adaptation period, I realized that I needed to get to know my team better. So, we started having daily Zoom meetings. That’s how I managed to find out how many hours each artist spent on each project and other essential information for the job. These meetings helped (and continue to do so) see how the person on the other side of the camera is doing: if they’re fine, if they’re having any kind of trouble, if they need any kind of help… For me, this contact is very important. And thanks to that, we managed to build quite a solid team.
Another positive point that caught my attention when I joined the company was the easy access to all the people who work at Wildlife.
Everyone here is willing to help. People at all levels are accessible – and this is something quite surprising to me. I had never seen it in any other company. These things make me want get even more involved, because at Wildlife you can really count on other people.
As far as I am concerned, this will always be the rule, and I strongly encourage everyone on my team to talk to anyone about ideas or just chat to get closer to them. When I joined Wildlife, I had some presentation meetings with all the Marketing Art teams working in parallel with mine.
Thus, I tried to create a rapprochement between managers, artists and my pre-production team, so that everyone could understand each other’s work, since mistakes due to lack of information were frequent. We assume that all information is clear, but it is not, and it is important that we make sure everyone is on the same page when making any kind of decision.
I wanted to make this environment as accessible as possible when I arrived. To me, this is key. I think if things were a little bit different, I wouldn’t enjoy working here so much.
THE CHALLENGES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF PRE-PRODUCTION
But what does the department of Pre-Production in Marketing Art at Wildlife do after all? We create the videos for the promotion of our games, with focus on gaining more users. We develop these videos based on the hypotheses that the Intel department wants to test – always based on data analysis.
The Creative team has the ideas based on the hypotheses that Intel shares; they structure these ideas and submit them to me. Part of my job is to take these structured ideas allocate them to my team for each member to execute them in the best possible way – including the storyboard and visual development parts.
We have two teams within the Pre-Production team: one of them is composed of storyboarders, who take the idea of creation and transform it into an animatic. Once this animatic is approved by the Creation team, the work of the storyboarders is complete; then the 2D artists take the wheel.
They are the artists who will bring those movements to life, working on the ideal visual development for each of the videos, encompassing look & feel, light indications, assets to be used, indication of special effects etc. My job is also to check if all of this is being delivered according to the Creation briefing. This way, the project may go through the production process smoothly.
We are the first execution stage of the Marketing Art process. The Production Guides, with all the indications of board and art, leave our department so that the 3D team can deliver the final video.
WHAT LAYS AHEAD
My first big challenge was to understand and work with art following a stream of thought that works based on algorithms. We have to understand what is working, what is paying off, what is gaining more users to our games, and what is generating more clicks. Thus, we outline art strategies and develop works that can be successful.
In fact, this is my biggest challenge even to date. It is a constant adaptation, because the algorithm is a mystery. And although we have many indications of what is working through the Intel department, there is no golden rule – we never know what can happen. Here, projects never end, we are our own client.
For me, this process is new, and I try to learn about the market and what is happening with the competitors. It is a constant learning process that I will continue to pursue.
Since the day I joined Wildlife, I have been investing in knowledge to be a more data-driven person, making strategic decisions based on numbers. As with any new challenge, I faced many difficulties in the beginning – but now my job became more natural, following a certain “path”.
THE TEAM IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
As I said before, getting to know my team better to create a bond and build trust was one of my priorities when I joined the company – and this is still something extremely important to me; besides, who doesn’t like making friends (even from a distance)?
I invested time in getting to know everyone and establish this foundation of trust, so that I could start solving the problems I had identified in the department. Individual chats were key in this regard, and I created a routine where every day of my week, in addition to the basic meetings, is a 1:1 ratio (weekly meeting of one hour with each member of the team), so that I can dedicate exclusive attention to the individual issues of each of the artists and we can outline career plans and strategies for the department.
When the team’s relationship got stronger, we started making more visible changes in Pre-Production – all thanks to my wonderful team. I wouldn’t change a thing about the people on my team. I’m not gonna lie, there is a lot of work to be done here. But being with people who inspire you, walking with you side by side, is an extra boost of confidence to make things happen.
I believe that treating people as human beings and not as machines is a key advantage; this way, the work flows, trust is established and there is pleasure in working with the manager.
My team helps me a lot by bringing various inputs of issues they can see more closely than I can – I have a macro view of the department, and that specific point of view is gold to me. They also bring a lot of relevant suggestions and trust me to listen and seek improvements. I think that’s the main difference.
A MESSAGE FOR THE NEWCOMERS
I believe that whoever joins Wildlife will find a very healthy environment to work – just like I did. I understand that the artistic process may be somewhat limiting at times (speaking specifically of my department), but what was clear to me is:
Working in a place where people like to help each other, where they really care about others and make their job easier is something I had never seen in the market before.
Thus, being in a company as Wildlife, with its strong values of inclusion and care for others, is an experience that I think everyone should (and deserves to) have.
As for my part, I have been learning more and more how to invest in the human capital of my team. I love getting to know people and I realized that you only understand someone’s work when you really know them.
For me, it is important to know what is going on with those around me, and I invest a lot in it so that I can also outline project division strategies, for example. As I said before, I have learned to look at people as humans, not machines, and Wildlife is, by far, the most humane experience I have ever had in a company.