Animation & Film Grad, Jonty Knocker, lands role working for Blur Studios

Yoobee Animation & Film grad, Jonty Knocker, lands a role working for Blur Studios - An award-winning production company with work spanning the realms of game cinematics, commercials, feature films, and more.

Photo of Jonty Knocker.

Yoobee Animation & Film grad, Jonty Knocker, lands a role working for Blur Studios - An award-winning production company with work spanning the realms of game cinematics, commercials, feature films, and more.

We spoke to Jonty about his journey in the creative industries, how Yoobee impacted his career, and what is involved in his super exciting role as a layout artist at Blur Studios. He also gives some advice to aspiring creatives in similar positions.

Check out Jonty's work on his website 'Cinematic Captures' here and his YouTube channel here.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Auckland but am currently living in Whakatane. I’ve been passionate about Filmmaking for as long as I can remember, there’s never really been another option for me. I mostly specialize in cinematography as camera work and lighting are my favourite elements of the filmmaking process, but I also lean very heavily into directing, editing and colour as cinematography is so crucially intertwined with those roles.

Since graduating from Yoobee, I’ve focused heavily on my YouTube channel ‘Cinematic Captures’ which has now grown to over 250k subscribers with 60 million+ views.

In 2020 I shifted my channel’s focus to virtual production filmmaking within Unreal Engine. And after making a handful of very well received short films, I started receiving hundreds of emails from various writers, directors, producers and companies wanting to bring me onboard their productions.

Whilst many of the offers sounded interesting to work on, I was still waiting for the opportunity that felt right for me. My channel was performing very well, so if I was going to take a step back, it had to be for a project or company I fully believe in. And as a longtime fan of the work that Blur Studio produces, when Tim Miller (Blur’s founder) reached out, I couldn’t say no. 


What did you study at Yoobee and why?

I first heard about Yoobee when we visited it for a school media studies trip. After finishing high school, I spent 2019 studying Film & Animation there in the hopes of meeting likeminded people and developing my portfolio. At the time there weren’t any specialized film courses at my level, so I signed up to the Film & Animation course with no intention of ever pursuing animation as I had no interest in it. It’s funny how things work out.


Tell us about your role at Blur Studios.

I’m currently working remotely as a layout artist at Blur Studios. A layout artist is essentially like a mini director, we handle most of the foundations that go into creating a show. We work on just about everything in the early stages of production including cinematography, editing, sound, animation, mocap, scene construction and more.  

Once we’ve locked a solid cut of the scene and the director is happy with it, everything we do gets passed on to the other departments to do their individual refinements such as cloth sims, vfx, animation cleanup and everything else it needs to give it that extra polish.

It’s a very full-on job and you need to be good at managing your time, but it’s super exciting being involved so early in the process as the creative decisions you make directly affect the end result.

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How did Yoobee set you up for the future?

One of the best things Yoobee did for me was introduce me to a couple great friends who worked alongside me whilst I was making a few of my short films, and who I still work very closely with today. Working with people who are on the same wavelength as you is an absolute joy and finding collaborators who are just as passionate about a project as you makes it all the more motivating to complete.

Yoobee also opened my eyes a bit more to the world of animation. Before Yoobee I was fully focused on live action fimmaking and had no intentions of ever doing 3D Animation. But when the pandemic hit and we were all confined to our homes, I decided to go back to what I had learnt at Yoobee and attempted to create my first animated short film using some of those methods and techniques. And I’ve been building on that ever since.


What advice would you give to aspiring creative students today?

Put in the hours. Spend as much time as you can learning all the fundamentals of your craft, get to know them like the back of your hand. Learn all the rules, all the techniques. Then you’ll know how to use them and how to break them. And don’t stop the learning when you get home. Keep putting in those extra hours and constantly try to teach yourself something new.

But knowing all the theory isn’t enough. You need to also be making stuff. If you’re not working on a project, start one. Doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. Doesn’t matter if it didn’t turn out how you hoped. The most important thing is to learn from it. Make as much stuff as you can and take note of the things you didn’t like and what to change next time. Then apply that to your next project. The best way to learn is by failing. It’s great to know the theory behind why a shot works or how to achieve an effect but actually doing it will sometimes reveal to you why it may not work in certain situations.

Experience is everything and it’s what will make you a pro, knowing what not to do is just as powerful as knowing what to do. If you figure out what doesn’t work in your early projects, you can save a lot of stress down the line when you have lots of people and large budgets relying on you to make the right calls.

My final advice would be to get your work out there. Upload it online, share it around. Get as much feedback as you possibly can and surround yourself with people who will provide good constructive criticism.

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