Wednesday, December 19, 2007

demo reel, getting a job, the realities of a career in animatoin

When I started this class, I didn't realize how many of you would be graduating this term.

I just wanted to offer up a bit of advice for job hunting, demo reel work and all that.

As an animator, the competition is tough. Look at the short films from Ringling, the work coming out of Animation Mentor, the student work from Cal Arts - much of it is pretty astounding. It's highly polished and much of it at a professional level.

If you are lucky enough to get an interview, research the company in advance. If it's a game company, rent some of their games and be aware of what's in the market now. If it's an effects house, find out what shots they did on various films. And tailor your reel to the places you're applying. If you're applying to a game company that does realistic animation and minimal cutscenes, don't show 90% acting pieces. Most places need to see work on your reel in the vein of what they do, so create something in their style. That way they don't have to feel like they're taking a risk by hiring you, and you've shown a sense of professionalism by taking the company seriously. (check out will elder-groebe's site - good progression of game to film work)

I also wanted to mention the whole film vs games thing...don't be an animation snob! I'm not going to make value judgements about games vs film and neither should aware that there are more jobs in games and that's how many great animators working in film have started out. It's also where many end up as the work can be more consistent
I'm currently working at Sega - here's a couple of links to people I work with.

jan vanbuyten - some amazing creature work
michael parks - broad range of work
ron pucharelli - animator I work with who is also doing animation mentor and treats his personal work as a second full time job

There's a range here, from standard animator to senior level, but these are the people that are applying for some of the same jobs you are. So be humble! It's a very competitive field, so go into any interview you get with a positive attitude, and really look into the kind of a work that's done at a company before you go in.

You don't have to actually say this to convey this idea. One's attitude goes a long way. We just hired an animator who didn't have the best reel out there, but beat out some more senior candidates because of his manic enthusaism. (The more you work as an animator, the more grumpy and jaded you can become, so it's great having junior candidates with tons of passion and energy). Your first employer will be most likely be doing you a favor by hiring you, as your first year out will require a lot of managing and and direction, basically a continuation of your education.

Which leads me to my next point...if you want to work as an animator, your education can never stop. The bar gets higher every year and you need to keep pushing yourself to improve and get the high level of polish you need.

As far as reels go, stay in contact with other and be as helpful as you can to each other. Be open to feedback and's the only way to get out of your head and look at your work more objectively.

all for now...


Antar said...

I have learned so much from my time in your class. I will check with numerous sites to look at other animators work and try to stay grounded in the fundamentals. I see what you mean by students working on there projects for smesters and years at a time.

jeff said...

my main point was that the level of polish employers expect these days is pretty high.