Defining Career Moment – Bears & seals in the name of technology

The Cambridge dictionary describes a career-defining moment or action as “one that is very important in making someone successful in their job, or in deciding how they will be remembered.” At Mantech, we have talked about such moments a lot recently, and have decided to share some of ours to give you an insight into who the team are, and how they came to be where they are now.  Here, Laurie Green talks about taking a leap of faith and how it may just work out.

leopard-sealTiming is everything in the working world, so when the onset of the GFC coincided with the year that I finished my bachelor of design, I felt sure that my career was in for a rocky start.

I tweaked cover letters, tailored CVs, and did unrelated temp work; until I reconnected with an old friend.  It was because of this encounter that I found myself working in animation – an industry I hadn’t considered and knew little about, but was open to exploring. This opportunity ended up turning into a 3-year adventure, but one defining moment that comes to mind occurred in a Gun Shop in Western Sydney.

The story line of this particular animation happened to feature a polar bear, which my Surfacing team needed to digitally recreate hair and realistic, high resolution textures for.  When working with characters that need to meet a realistic brief, it’s ideal to have photographic reference as a starting point; but as far as animal furs go, Polar Bears are a little bit different and technically very complicated. Their long, coarse hairs are hollow and transparent and are only seen as being white because the air spaces reflect the visible wavelengths of light, rather than absorbing them. I was told that because of this complexity, it would be preferable for the artists to see and touch real Polar Bear fur for themselves.

This was obviously a challenge! I made some calls and eventually contacted a gun shop that I had heard kept a large range of taxidermy specimens.  They had a polar bear and would allow us photograph it!  Standing at the base of this huge bear and being surrounded by over 100 other stuffed animals was quite a surreal experience.  It definitely wasn’t something that I had imagined would be part of the plan when I left uni, and being able to deliver on such an unlikely request was a great feeling.

On another occasion we also managed to gain access to a live leopard seal at Taronga Zoo, for a similar purpose.  Since then, work has involved less wildlife, but it was this start to my career that gave me the confidence to seize opportunities and be open to new experiences, because you never know, one of them may just work out.


Do you have a career moment you’d like to share for a chance to win a $150 David Jones gift card?  Like the Mantech Careers Facebook page, then tell us about your experience in the comments of the ‘Jerry Maguire’ post.  Entires close 7pm AEDST Tuesday December 6th 2016.


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Laurie Green

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