Meet Michal Makarewicz, Directing Animator at Pixar Animation Studios


Michal is coming to the University of Cumbria to host a 3D animation master class over the weekend of January 28 and 29 and a public lecture on Monday 30th January from 6-9pm.

We  caught up with him to find out what it’s like to work as an animator at Pixar!


Tell us a bit about who you are and your current job.

My name is Michal Makarewicz.  I am a Directing Animator at Pixar Animation Studios.
I’ve been working at Pixar for the last 14 years and currently helping animate a future feature at Pixar.


What is your education and career background?

I started my college career at UC Riverside studying Computer Science.  After realizing that computer science wouldn’t work for me, I transferred to the Academy of Art College in San Francisco.  There I finished my art degree, and started my professional career with an internship at Pixar Animation Studios.  I’ve been there ever since.


What made you want to get into your industry? And how did you do it?

My Mom was what got me into the industry.  I started college at UC Riverside studying computer science. My whole family has some sort of engineering or computer science background, so naturally it was thought that I would head down a similar path.  However, I quickly realized that computer science wasn’t for me.  I was really terrible at it, and did not like it at all!

Before UC Riverside, I initially expressed going to UCLA to work my way into making live action films, but had trouble getting that idea past my parents.  So after my mom realized computer science was not for me, she started looking around and found an art school.  My mom thought of it as a compromise because it had art for me, and computers for them.  I never thought about going to an art school, so I didn’t know what to expect.  I took a lot of different classes until I eventually stumbled across animation.  The animation class felt very natural and was pretty fun.  I always wanted to be in actor anyway, and this was like acting through lots of things;  cars, rats, people, etc.

The term “starving artist” was passed around a lot, and it was not helping my confidence; but I decided to put those thoughts behind me, and focus becoming the best animator that I possibly could.  Through extremely hard work and focus, I eventually made my way to Pixar!  It was lots of hours, perseverance, sacrifice and love for what I was doing – and it was totally worth it.


Can you describe a typical day in your role?

They differ greatly if I am a lead or an animator on the show.  As an animator I typically get in at 8:30 so that I could get coffee before dailies.  Dailies lasts for about an hour, and I really enjoy going to get inspired by all the work.

Then I get to my desk and work until lunch.  After lunch, I get back to my desk to work for another 3 hours and then go to the gym.  Usually after the gym I stay for another 2 hours and then head home.  Intermittently during the day I visit friends and take breaks.


What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

Collaborating with amazing artists.


What is the most challenging part of your job?

As an animator, I think it’s to achieve a performance past certain expectations.  There are all these amazing talented artists I work with that have very good eyes for the work.  I am always trying to create something that is above their already high expectations.

As a lead, creating an environment that allows for an animator to have fun, and grow as an artist during the production.


What advice would you give to a student or graduate hoping for a career in your industry?

This isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.  It’s an extreme amount of fun mixed in with an extreme amount of hard work.

It’s good to understand what your final goal is, so you can cater your demo reel to it.

Take your time.  Be careful not to overwhelm yourself.  I sometimes see students tackling a bouncing ball, and then within the same semester starting to do acting shots and a walk cycle.  I think this is too much.  Learn the basics extremely well, before moving on.  Everything is based on those fundamentals.


What should students expect from your upcoming Animation Demo and Lecture Masterclass at the University of Cumbria?

Hopefully, a lot of information packed within a unique fun perspective!   This class is a compressed peek into everything I have learned for the last 14 years at  Pixar.  The lectures I give allow us to learn by breaking down the subject matter.  And the LIVE demos I give allow us to learn by starting from scratch and building upon it.  I have always been a fan of watching someone work and actually do the job in front of you!   I think you can learn a tremendous amount from that.

My layered workflow is also a different approach to animation.  It’s an opposite idea to the Pose-to-Pose work method.  Hopefully this shows students and professionals that there are multiple ways to work.

Tickets are now available for the Masterclass here:

Tickets for the public lecture on Monday 30th January from 6-9pm are available here:


Check out Michal’s showreel, which features favourites such as Up, The Incredibles and Toy Story 3, here:


Arctic Challenge for Former Students

Many of us dream of viewing the Northern Lights under polar skies and for two graduates from the University of Cumbria this and much more has become a reality.


Arran and Rhiannon at the North Pole.


Rhiannon Pritchard and Arran Laird met while studying outdoor leadership at the Ambleside campus of the university graduating in 2015. That year the university agreed to support their next ambitious project; to take up an advanced polar training course based in Svalbard, the Norwegian islands between the country’s mainland and the North Pole.


“When here we were informed of the Arctic Nature Guide one-year training programme and were encouraged to apply,” Arran says. “On completing our BA with Cumbria we were accepted onto the course here in Svalbard which was possible due to our background as expedition leaders as well as education in outdoor leadership with Cumbria and the relevant Arctic experience that Cumbria enabled us to gain.”


Competition for places is fierce. Only thirty students are accepted onto the course with the majority coming from Norway. For two to be accepted from the UK is unusual and the fact that both are former University of Cumbria students remarkable.


Since joining the course in August last year the pair have taken part in a wide range of demanding activities. A nine-day glacier course at Nordenskiöldbreen involved camping next to a glacier to practice safe travel techniques, group management, crevasse rescue as well as studying glacier formation. They’ve also worked with helicopter rescue teams and learned of the need for polar bear protection and how to manage a camp in some of the world’s most demanding environments.


“We also undertook a week long field leadership course to deal with stressful situations and working under extreme pressure, a week long first aid course involving large outdoor scenarios to test our skills in the harsh environment,” Arran recounts. “Soon we will begin our practice placement working for a local guide company to gain valuable field experience. We worked hard at university to gain good grades and external national governing body awards such as our Mountain leader, Single Pitch Award, PADI, Cave Leader etc whilst we studied. We are incredibly grateful for the support of the University of Cumbria, as without them we would not have made it here.”


Both say they intend to make full use of the experience to go on to a career working in the outdoors in the future.


Interested in being an Arctic Nature Guide? Find out more about the training course here.


Here are some pictures from Arran and Rhiannon’s trip:


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Friday’s Featured Vacancy – NQT Recruitment Pools in Derby and Leicester

Applications are now open for NQT Recruitment pools in Leicester (both secondary and primary) and Derby (primary only).

In both schemes the pool interviews are led by serving heads and deputies. Interviews last up to 30 minutes and candidates are able to leave promptly to reduce any interruption to placement or training time on that day. After the interviews the details of successful candidates are made available to headteachers, saving the time and expense of first stage advertising and enabling them to short list from the pool. While this is not a guarantee of a job, the pools put candidates in a ‘shop window’ that reduces the times involved and have proved to be highly effective for all involved.

Further information and links to book an interview and open an application are available at  and Interviews are booked on a first-come-first-served basis and once an application is opened, candidates can return to complete it up until a few days before.


nqt-pool-1 nqt-pool-2 nqt-pool-3 nqt-pool-4

Want to get paid to change the world? Talk to the people doing just that.

 Charityworks is a paid, 12 month graduate scheme which gives you all the tools you need to build a career in the UK non-profit sector.


Charityworks Online Q&A: Meet the trainees
26th Jan | 6pm


Meet some of the current Charityworks trainees in an opportunity to ask them questions about their experience and thoughts about the programme, getting an insight directly from those taking part this year. Ask them about their thoughts and experiences of the application and recruitment process, or perhaps what it’s like to work at their respective organisations, or what they’ve valued most so far from the leadership development programme. It’s your chance to speak live to our trainees.

Find out more about this event here.


The Graduate Scheme

Charityworks is a paid, 12 month graduate scheme which gives you all the tools you need to build a career in the UK social sector.

As a Charityworks Graduate Trainee you will deliver a full time job in a partner charity or housing association, and take part in a acclaimed leadership programme which will introduce you to what you need to work and lead in the non-profit sector.

You’ll build experience of the sector, gain an understanding of the key issues, and have access to a national network dedicated to making a difference. You’ll do a real job in a placement organisation ranging from national charities like AgeUK and NSPCC to award-winning local housing associations like Poplar HARCA in the East End of London, to national organisations like the National Housing Federation.

You’ll be matched with a Charityworks Programme Manager and external mentor to help you make the most of the year. Twice a month you’ll come together with your fellow trainees and leaders across the sector to explore and debate the key issues affecting your work and society as a whole. You’ll also produce your own research, helping to raise your profile and develop your understanding of your environment.


Roles available

There are a range of very diverse roles available on the scheme. Some examples are:

  • Business development and fundraising
  • Communication and campaigns
  • Human Resources and Internal Communications
  • Research and Policy
  • Frontline and customer facing


Applications for Charityworks close on 28th February 2017.


Find out more about being a Charityworks Trainee here.


Immersion/Emergence Artists’ Residency – University of Cumbria and Carlisle City Council


The University of Cumbria Institute of the Arts, in partnership with Carlisle City Council, announces Immersion/Emergence, a new artist residency project at The Old Fire Station, Carlisle, supported by Arts Council England. The project invites artists to take up residence in the City and develop new work in response to the urban and rural landscape of the city-region after last year’s flood. Working in partnership with Carlisle City Council, artists will have access to office and exhibition space within the Old Fire Station to use as a lab for research, production and exposition.

Cllr. Anne Quilter, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Heritage and Leisure said, “we are delighted to have formed a partnership with the University of Cumbria. We are committed to delivering a cultural offer for the City of Carlisle and this activity demonstrates a significant step-change to how we work together to provide opportunities for artists across a range of forms whilst recognising the economic value of their work”.

Roddy Hunter, Director of the Institute of the Arts, commented “As artists and educators, we are committed to our community and city and promote artistic practice as important and unique in exploring the world around us, with all its social, economic and environmental complexities. We are delighted to work in partnership with the City Council and with Arts Council support to make a significant contribution toward placing the arts at the centre of the City’s renewal following Storm Desmond last year”.

For further information contact Mark Wilson on 01228 588572 or email to


Find out more about the residency and how to apply here.

Friday Featured Vacancy – Change 100 – Paid Internships for Disabled Students and Recent Graduates.

Change 100 for Students


We’re looking for talented students and graduates with disabilities or long-term health conditions — including physical, visual or hearing impairments, mental health conditions and learning disabilities like dyslexia and dyspraxia.

If that’s you, join Change100 and unlock your potential. It’s three months of paid work experience to kickstart your career!

Applications for summer 2017 opened on Monday 3 October, closing on Wednesday 25 January.

Change100 aims to remove barriers experienced by disabled people in the workplace, to allow them to achieve their potential. If you are successful, you will have the opportunity to work within a leading organisation, with dedicated support to help you to thrive.

You will gain the experience, confidence, networks and skills needed to kickstart your career.

  • 100% of Change100 interns said their experience has improved their confidence in the workplace
  • 100% said their Change100 experience has strengthened their CV

To apply you must meet the following criteria:

  • have a disability or long-term health condition
  • be in the final or penultimate year of your degree, or have graduated in 2015 or 2016
  • have achieved or be predicted a 2.1 or 1st (mitigating circumstances will be taken into account)
  • be eligible to work in the UK for the duration of a full-time summer work placement

To find out more about the application process, click here.

#TedTalkTuesday – Mind the Expectation Gap

For the new year we have a great talk on graduate expectations.

What do you expect to be doing after you graduate?

For most of her career, Rebecca has been involved in the recruitment and development of graduates in the UK. Throughout the years she has noticed that there is a big difference between what graduates expect they will be doing after they graduate, and what they actually end up doing.

Find the video here.


The Careers and Employability Service

Happy new year!