Jellyfish Senior Editor Beverly Maguire on her love of animation and editing, her advice for those getting started, and the women editors who partnered with Tarantino and Scorsese

What is your job title, and what does this role entail?

I’m a senior editor at Jellyfish Pictures, working across both animation and VFX.

VFX editors work closely with client-side VFX editors and are responsible for ensuring that the artists at the studio have everything they need to create their work. While a project is underway, the editor creates a workflow that allows the supervisor to evaluate the VFX artists’ work and provide feedback on the aesthetic and on the technical direction. As the client approves shots or versions, the VFX editor incorporates them into the edit and oversees the passing of work back to the team that is editing the film or TV programme.

Animation and animatic editing is also part of my role. An animation editor is an artist, mechanic, collaborator and businessperson all rolled into one. But what is an animatic? An animatic is the storyboard turned into a movie. We combine the music, SFX, the dialogue, camera pans and moves and the storyboard panels to create a rough version of the final movie. The animatic has one main purpose: to show you if the film will be successful or not. That is why this step is so important. It helps bridge the gap in understanding the movement and storyline flow of a project. 

What is it like working at your company?

Jellyfish Pictures is a joy to work at, I love it here. It’s a real family environment, we have game nights, beer evenings, weekly company Teams sessions, annual summer and Christmas parties. They have the highest tech in the industry, we can choose to work in-house or from home, which is fabulous. I really feel like I have a better work life balance that way. 

What’s the best thing about working there?

The people are all awesome and the office is pretty cool too! We even have a tank of Jellyfish swimming around!! 

What have you been working on recently?

I’ve been working for Jellyfish Pictures on and off for years, I got my first break in the UK in 2010 when I moved back from Canada via Ireland! I started work on Planet Dinosaur, I had an awesome time on that show for about three years where I was an Animatic and Animation Editor for the project. Then I came back to Jellyfish in 2017 where I edited the animated TV series called Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed and now I am back again doing a mix of VFX editing and Animation editing. They can’t keep me away, and they always welcome me back!!

Tell us about your career path; how did you get to where you are now?

I graduated in 2000 from The Galway Mayo Institute of Technology in Ireland with a degree in Sculpture Art and Design. My final exhibition was a video installation show; I built a boat inside a 20-foot long room and had seven videos projected in and around the boat. I was the one everyone came to edit their videos for their own exhibits, this is where my love of editing began. I then moved to Co. Kerry and did a Film, Television and Video Production course to develop my skills. As a result of my student film for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), I was given a placement in Windmill Lane Picture Company in Dublin as a Runner/Assistant Editor. I spent my time learning about commercials and short films. Then in 2002, I moved to Canada to pursue a career in animation editing. Successfully finding a job in a children’s animation company, I jumped straight into an editor role. It was there my journey in animation editing began, I worked on over 100 Animated music videos and many animated TV series and movies during my time in Canada.

I moved back to Ireland in 2010 and started my search for work in the UK, this is where I was brought on as Animatic and Animation Editor at Jellyfish Pictures for Planet Dinosaur and I have been working in VFX and Animation ever since. 

What project are you most proud of?

I am proud of all my projects, but firstly Planet Dinosaur because it was my first UK editor credit. Tree Fu Tom was my first children’s animated TV show in the UK, he was a little guy helping kids get up off the sofa and move more, all with a little magic! Lego Nexo Knights – because who doesn’t love Lego? Then 101 Dalmatian Street the TV series for Disney, was pretty special! For It’s Pony, I did the entire project from home during the pandemic which consisted of 26 episodes at 11 mins each. It’s so funny and I enjoyed how nicely fast paced it was, I loved editing it. I was Animatic Editor for the first five episodes of Dead End Paranormal Park for Netflix which was so much fun as well. It’s great to have a diverse range of projects I had a chance to be a part of. And now I’m involved in this new project for Jellyfish that I can’t wait to get stuck into, but can’t share any more details just yet!

Here’s one of my busy timelines from 101 Dalmatian Street the TV series:

We edited the Animatic in ToonBoom Storyboard Pro, then Moved to Premiere Pro for the Animation. Here’s the Adobe, Premiere Pro timeline:

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

  • Attention to detail is important, and having a strong eye for detail is key when making sure all VFX shots are of the highest possible quality.
  • Editing: have a good understanding of story-telling and be knowledgeable in all editing softwares.
  • Communication: have excellent communication skills, understand exactly what is needed from you, and what you need to deliver to clients.
  • Organisation: be on top of the work that needs to be done and its progress with a good understanding of the pipeline, keep track of any changes in the project and keep all editors informed. Keep all projects tidy.
  • Working to deadlines: Time-management skills are crucial to ensure the project stays on track and be able to cope with working under pressure with tight deadlines at the end of each project.

Do you strive to learn lots of disciplines, or are you more focused on a particular specialism?

I’m focused on editing, but I like to learn new software. Premiere, Final Cut, Toonboom and Avid are your need to know for editorial, but returning to Jellyfish Pictures,  they had a whole new software for me to learn, Heiro, for VFX editing – It’s been a learning curve but I’m getting there!

Who or what has most influenced your career and why?

I’ve always enjoyed Quentin Tarantino’s movies! At university learning about the relationships between directors and editors, I found it fascinating that Quentin’s go-to editor was always Sally Menke; she worked on his first 10 movies and he called her his ‘only true genuine collaborator’. Also in the mix was Martin Scorsese – he once said that ‘the genius behind his films’ was Thelma Schoonmaker. She is an amazing editor and has won many awards. These women made me realise the joint effort it takes to produce something successful, and that it is not solely down to the directors but a collection of skills that I proudly hold. 

What kind of projects do you most like to work on?

Animation is my favourite!

What inspired you to work in animation/visual effects?

When I was younger I used to love Tom and Jerry, Marvin the Martian, The Simpsons, and South Park to name a few, I would record everything on VHS and make my master of all my favourite episodes. I loved it but I thought it was just a hobby until I went to art college and realised I can do this for a living! 

What shows/films have you been watching lately?

I’m a big fan of TV series, Dopesick, Ozark, Inventing Anna, Succession, Black Bird, I watch a mix of stuff! Murder mystery and dark stories are my go to, maybe because I make kids’ shows all day long, so I need some balance.

What were your career goals when you started out, and how did these change as you progressed?

I always wanted to be an editor and as soon as I realised I could have a career in editing, I was even more determined to be one. Then when it came to being an animation editor, I learned that you start at the very beginning of the project and you’re there until the very end, you get to spend all that time watching it grow and become something wonderful.

As Kevin Nolting, the editor of Up says “The best way to put it is, on a live action feature film you shoot first and edit last. On an animated film, you edit first and shoot last!” 

What skills are most needed in the industry today, and what do you think will be most needed in the future?

Communication is key, in all ways of life to be fair. It’s better for team morale, productivity and satisfaction. If you can’t say what you want or what you need, you won’t get far. It’s better to communicate with each other. That way, there are fewer misunderstandings. And who doesn’t want fewer misunderstandings?

What resources would you recommend to aspiring VFX editors/artists?

Adobe, Avid and Toonboom have plenty of tutorials on their web pages, which are super useful. But networking is a great way to meet fellow industry people. The BFE (The British Film Editors)  were a great source to get to meet fellow editors and like minded people when I first moved to London 12 years ago. And today, I am now a governor at the BFE. The honorary society has always had two main aims: to raise the profile of the craft of editing and to maintain the technical and creative skills of editors working in film and television. Why not come and join us?

What’s the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the industry since you started working in it?

I have finally seen an increase in not only creative women, but women in leadership roles which brings me immense pride and gives me hope for myself and upcoming women in our industry. Of course, bridging the pay gap would be an added bonus, but one step at a time!

Tanya Combrinck
Author: Tanya Combrinck

Tanya is a writer covering art, design, and visual effects. She has 15 years of experience as a magazine journalist and has written for publications including 3D World, 3D Artist, Computer Arts, net magazine, and Creative Bloq.