Q&A with Pipeline Intern Simon Van Den Hende

Q&A with Pipeline Intern Simon Van Den Hende

Simon talks about exploring Python and Houdini interests, and walking out of Outpost with a degree!

Date

14 June 2019

Reading Time

5 minutes, 18 seconds

Hi Simon. So tell me what you're studying.
I’m doing the 3D Production and Visual Effects in the HOWEST University, in Kortrijk in Belgium. It’s a smaller city in the country.

Where does your interest in it come from?
I always wanted to do something creative. I studied economics in high school and it was a bit boring, a bit more theoretical. I was always more captivated by the creative. On projects and essays, I’d care more about the layout of it and how it all looked! I was also into VFX stuff, making banners for YouTubers and I was spending way more time on that than on my actual studying! I was always more into digital arts I guess.

How did you end up on the internship?
So the last semester of my course is focused on getting an internship, finding a company and contacting them. So you basically send out emails to anyone you want to. I saw Outpost, and they were actually one of the first people I contacted! I saw an opening for Junior Pipeline and that’s kind of what I wanted to do, so I applied as there was an opening. Jared (Head of Pipeline) and Leanne (Head of Talent) got back to me and got the ball rolling!

What made you want to apply for Outpost?
I checked out the demo reel and website and I recognised the projects that Outpost had worked on – and that was important for me. Also the fact that there was an opening for Junior Pipeline Developer, which also helped push me.

How has it been doing an internship overseas? Is it the first time you’ve worked abroad?
For me it’s the first time for sure. So I didn’t live outside my city when I was studying – I don’t live in Kortrijk, but I did go home every weekend or every other weekend so I see my parents more often. So now it’s a bit of a change, but it’s not too bad really. I can adapt. Still I still miss people from home.

Why did you apply for the Junior Pipeline role specifically?
So the thing is that the course I did was very generalist. There was one part that was scripting, Python developing in Maya and it was my favourite from the start. Also we had a Houdini class as well, FX and simulations, and that went together with the scripting.

So tell me about what you’ve been doing during your internship here.
I was mainly doing an R&D project, which was quite out of my comfort zone! What I did at uni was within Maya scripting and using the Python API for Maya. I came here and they wanted me to use Shotgun, Deadline API so it was completely new for me! I had to adapt! I learned a lot and read a lot of documents. I had a project that I could work hands-on with no pressure, and I had the time to look things up and go through it. If I got stuck, I could ask someone with plenty of experience, which is amazing! It’s better than just learning all this at home, where you don’t have someone to ask, to learn from.

The other half of your internship has involved Unity, right?
For the first week I was in Unity doing R&D and some C# scripting to get used to it. We then got a pitch, that I was thrown into of working in Houdini and Unity. I really like it! So my two favourite things at uni were the Python course and the Houdini course, and now I’m getting the best of both! And the stuff I learned when I was in Pipeline, I’m now also using in Houdini, and just being way more proficient in Python – the way of thinking mainly – like ‘Ah maybe I can script this’, rather than doing something manually, which is something I learned here.

Has the internship changed your future plans?
Yeah it has actually. Now that I’ve seen what Pipeline is like and what Houdini is like – I mean those were my two interests, so it’s pushing me forward to pursue what I was planning to do. So it’s given me reassurance that this is what I want to do!

What’s been your favourite part of the internship?
Being able to step outside of lunch and having everything around! Food, shops, being able to go to the beach and come back within the hour, eating in the park and stuff like that. Back home, I lived quite far from campus but right now I live two minutes away! It’s a lot nicer than having to commute for a couple of hours and being stuck in traffic; you’re stressed before you even come into work. Right now I wake up at 8.30, take a shower and walk to work!

Is the internship what you expected?
Better even! I had no idea I was going to get the amount of responsibility I got! I developed things that is being used right now in the Pipeline, which is amazing for an intern! Also the R&D project might be used… so that’s very fulfilling!

What do you think of Outpost now, since you’ve been here for three months?
The location is really good. I think that’s the main thing. Everyone I know here lives within walking distance. The colleagues are very nice – very kind people, all of them. Especially at lunchtime, I never felt like an outcast, the first day they welcomed me and we just started talking, the people are really welcoming.

What’s next for you?
So I walk out of here with a degree now essentially! And I have decided to go back to Belgium, probably take up summer courses and do an extra year of game graphics courses – real-time orientated and see how I can apply my Python and Houdini skills that I learned here into game graphics, to see if it’s something I’ll like! Right now I’m 20 years old so now is the time to check it all out.

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