The release Sept. 26 of LAIKA’s newest stop-motion animation feature film, The Boxtrolls, has Linfield alumnus Nick Jauregui ’09 looking back on how he first connected with the Portland-based animation house.
After visiting during his freshman year as part of a class visit, he thought it would be a pretty cool place to work. A double major in electronic art and studio art, with a minor in computer science, LAIKA was the perfect mix of all his interests. Beginning his junior year, he started cold calling LAIKA but never got past the receptionist. He didn’t give up.
“I was on an animation email list for the Portland area and received an email saying ‘Get a job in Animation!,’” Jauregui said. “The panel included two lead recruiters for LAIKA. I was finally going to get my shot to meet them in person.”
He did research in advance, searching the recruiters online and connecting with them on a then new social media site called LinkedIn. He sent them messages via LinkedIn telling them of his interest in LAIKA and that he would be at the seminar.
When the seminar rolled around, he left nothing to chance.
“I showed up as if I were going to a job interview. I was wearing slacks, button up and a tie,” Jauregui said. “I waited until after the seminar and took as much time talking with them both as possible and giving them a demo CD of what I’d done at the time. I wrote them back later on LinkedIn thanking them for their time.”
His persistence and determination paid off. “Long story short they remembered me as ‘Tie guy’ and had talked about me,” he said. “Two weeks later, I was called by LAIKA for an interview for Coraline. Boom hired.”
Jauregui has worked on all three of LAIKA’s animated feature films, Coraline, ParaNorman and now The Boxtrolls.
“I started out as a data wrangler on Coraline and then Paranorman, and moved into the department I wanted, Visual Effects, as the VFX data wrangler on The Boxtrolls,” Jauregui said.
Now in production on their fourth feature, Juaregui finds himself as the VFX survey/matchmover. In that role, he collects important visual effects information from the live sets to use with computer animation.
“I then use that information to recreate the live action camera moves in computer graphic space to make it so that you can put a computer generated character into a real life set more seamlessly with the correct camera lens distortion and camera move,” he explained.
Jauregui says his liberal arts education at Linfield College prepared him well for his job. Both the arts and the sciences are put to work every day.
“Art classes at Linfield helped with my overall art composition and style as a personal artist, and the computer science classes are what really helped give me a base in computer programming and software,” Jauregui said. “All of this together helped me have both a technical and artistic mindset which is what you need to be in visual effects on movies.”
His best piece of advice for Linfield students: to chase your dream job as soon as possible after graduation.
“Go after your dream job ASAP when you graduate,” Jauregui said. “Go above and beyond anyone else that is going for the same position. Do something to be remembered in a good way and be personable. No one wants to work with someone they know they won’t be able to get along with.”
Jauregui isn’t the only Linfield alumnus working for LAIKA. Chris Ohlgren ’94 has worked as an animator and director of animation for LAIKA’s television commercial division since the mid-90s when the firm was still Will Vinton Studios. In addition to working on iconic animated commercials for companies like M&Ms, Ohlgren worked on Eddie Murphy’s animated TV series The PJs.