Whilst getting ready to apply for placement at the end of second year I had set up a Linked in page and decided to re-vamp and update it this semester and use it as a networking device to connect with the people working within our industry.
The link to my page: linkedin profile
Through using linked in I’ve been able to connect with professionals from multiple companies including, Walt Disney Studios, Pixar, Illumination, Blue Zoo, MPC and Frame store, to name a few. Once adding people that I already know such as my class mates, tutors and those I met from StoryToys I was able to use them as a way to connect with people who I don’t know but would like to talk with – I was able to introduce myself as a student of [lecturer’s name] and that I was in my final semester of final year and would they mind answering a few questions and/or giving me some feedback on my current showreel.
Through linked in I was able to contact a number of industry professionals whose work I admired.
The first I contacted was Scott John Ramsey, Lead animator at Brown Bag. I came across Scott’s work whilst looking into Brown Bag studios and the work that they create after our recent tip to Dingle.
Here is the link to his personal website: https://www.scottjohnramsay.com/
I genuinely enjoyed the work within his showreel, the energy of some of his animations and the little mannerisms of the characters and thought I could really benefit from his thoughts and opinions on my own animation showreel.
Link to the showreel forwarded him to: https://vimeo.com/210853591?activityReferer=1
I was genuinely surprised that he got back to me and his response was extremely useful, His first piece of advice was on networking. About 6 months before he himself graduated he began emailing companies trying to find some work but nowhere seemed to be hiring. Then out of the blue on the day of his graduation he had an email from a company offering work and since then the jobs have just kept rolling in. He said to keep doing what I was doing and asking people for their advice because this way they will become familiar with my name and work and will associate it with passion and drive.
He then moved on to advising me what my reel should contain depending on whether I was applying for a job in Tv animation or feature film. A TV animation position would need a lot of strong walk/ run cycles with strong personalities. It would also be best to include a couple of 9 second clips containing dialogue with 1 character and a pause within the dialogue to allowing for a thought process to be animated. Whereas a feature film animator would need 2 dialogue clips, 2 body mechanic clips and a creature animation. Again he too advised to keep the reel short and simple as directors will go through a LOT of multiple reels.
He then went on to offer to give feedback on any future work I may be doing and if I could upload them onto sync sketch which would allow him to give more precise and detailed feedback. He also mentioned that he himself found the anim school to be particularly useful if I had the time and money for it, he enrolled whilst working at Brown Bag and saw that his work really improved.
Internships were another thing that he mentioned, he brought up Brown Bag’s internship but unfortunately they are linked with one of the Irish schools and offer the internships to the students. I also took him up on his offer to critique my animation through sync-sketch: https://syncsketch.com/sketch/149743#178439 and the feedback I received was incredibly detailed and I will benefit greatly from it, he also invited me to send it through again when I’ve had a chance to make his corrections.
I had also been looking into Blue Zoo Studios as I’ve always really admired the work they’ve created. I then went to linked in to find some of guys working there, and eventually messaged Peter Driscoll, character animator at Blue Zoo.
Peter’s Imdb page:
Blue Zoo, The Boy who Turned off the Sun: https://www.blue-zoo.co.uk/animation/the-boy-who-switched-off-the-sun/ is one of their pieces of work that I really admire the style of the character animation and overall the short in general is great and appealing!
Peter’s main piece of advice was that really my showreel just needed a good polish and body mechanics pass given to the animation. He also went into detail about certain pieces within my showreel and how they could be improved – some antics need added, some timing adjustments and keyframe clean ups to stop limbs moving of their own accord. For example he pointed out how the leg of the guy in the bus stop anim moves whilst he is waving – which is something that wouldn’t happen in real life or would be very tricky to do.
He too brought up that I will need to include a short dialogue acting peice, full body acting with a change of emotion that can show a character’s thought process – if I was working as a junior animator at Blue Zoo this is something I would be doing a lot of and that within my reel this short piece of dialogue should be the strongest piece. His advise was to apply the feedback he had given as in his opinion I have the potential to improve my showreel and bump it up a few notches and if I were to apply for a junior animator position at Blue Zoo I would have a very good chance at getting the job, if I wanted it (and I do).
I’ll definitely start applying the feedback I’ve received from Scott and Peter once we have our major project completed and out of the way, and if I hear nothing back from the internship application then I’ll send another application for a junior animating position.
Craig Peck is another animator whose work I particularly admire, he has some impressive animation shots from films such as Happy Feet, Guardians of the Galaxy and the Lego Movie, below is a link to his showreel:
Eventually he accepted my invitation on Linked In and I was finally able to message him:
Craig has some advice that was different than that given my Scott or Peter, he mentioned timing and that timing and spacing are just as important as posing. “Posing tells the story but timing gives it weight and believability.” [Craig Peck]
He finds that when something in his animation doesn’t feel right that it’s usually down to his timing, timing is hard to master but is an aspect that comes with practice. Timing in real life needs to be at the very least a little faster but never slower, suggesting that Charlie Chaplin would be a perfect source of reference due to the fact he speeds them up for comical effect. In his opinion some of the animations in my reel are ever so slightly slow, so they’re missing that weight which makes them believable but to correct that all I would need to do is to go back through my reference and animation side by side and compare them. He mentioned that having two or three really nice pieces on your reel is all it takes for someone to decide that they want you.
I’m glad that I got a slightly different viewpoint from each of the messages above, it will really help me improve and develop my animations further once I get a moment to revisit the reel and work on the shots and I’ll definitely be getting back to the guys with an updated piece of work.
I was also fortunate enough to chat to Chris O’Connell who works as a modeler at Walt Disney studios working on films such as Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana and Wreck it Ralph 2, also via linked in. My chat with Chris was more so about his experience within the industry, what his course was like and right up to his experiences as a modeller within one of the largest animation studios today.
His online portfolio: http://www.cpodigital.com/ from her I was able to view his professional showreel which has some seriously impressive modelling work from films such as Zootopia and Oz the great and powerful. From studying his wireframes I will be able to gain a better and stronger understanding of wireframe and creating good topology.
Overall I found that these Q and A sessions via linked in were extremely beneficial, I now know excatly what type of contentI should be putting into my showreel based on the type of role I apply for – whether that be T.V or film, what shots need polishing according to the advice of industry professionals who specialise in animation – an area which I am particularly interested in.