After sorting through another massive collection of resume emails again, I wrote this up to help prospective animators help make the lives easier of animation studios everywhere and help getting your job application email seen.
I then posted it to the DLF email list.

I’ve made a few job postings over the past 2 years and I thought I’d just talk about my experiences from the other side..Whenever I advertise out for a job, I got lots of emails. Lots.

It take ages to sort through and categorise them all. It was a task that I kept of putting off because I had other work to do. So if you’re sending an email resume out to prospective employers, keep the email to the point and put all the important details in there. I don’t want to have sort through pdf’s and your website to figure out if you use Max or Maya, or both. Or if your in Sydney, or Melbourne or Turkey.. If it takes me 5 minutes to run through each email and there are 100 emails, that’s 500 mins which would be about 2 days in real time. Keep it simple and obvious, or your resume could be skipped.

It sounds horrible, and I’m sorry, but imagine people going through thousands of resumes at big studios…So, in the email

  • Your name, contact details, where you are based and if you would be working from the office if we hired you.
  • A line or two on your experience.
  • A line or two on what your main skills are. Are you a Character Rigger who can also model and texture? Or maybe you’re a Concept Artist that knows a bit of After Effects as well. But really, your showreel/portfolio will probably project this as well.
  • What software you use(and at what skill level). Maybe a list of software in order of expertise.
  • Direct link to your reel. Try not to let your reel run much longer than a minute and only put on your absolute best stuff. If you mix good shots with mediocre ones, it’s not a good look. 5 minute reels are never needed.
  • PDF resume is nice, but honestly I hardly ever looked at them. The showreel is the important part, and if that’s good, then I’ll probably skim through the resume to check out where you’ve been working/studying.
  • If you’re going for a freelancer position, it would be good to include your weekly/daily rate.

Of course, if I need more information I’ll ask. Although it was a big annoying having to reply to a good percentage of the emails asking if they lived in Sydney.

Anyway, love to hear what other employers or job searchers experiences are.

Guy
The Magnificent Itch

After a few questions on the list about showreels and portfolios, I wrote up another email that goes into that topic a little more. Mainly directed at recent graduates trying to get their first job.

Hi again,
It can be really hard to crack the industry. I had a lot of trouble when I first decided what I wanted to do, and I think my issue was lack of confidence.

Andrew makes a good point here: “many students don’t realise how high the bar is”. 90% of the reels that we get from recently graduated students just aren’t good enough.

But I don’t think that is totally the students fault. I think part of it is the lack of communication between what the industry needs and what the schools are teaching. That being said, this industry isn’t one that you can generally just walk into after graduating. Students need to go above and beyond what is required in college/uni, continue to advance their skills once studies are over, and keep on learning once they score a job. There’s a lot of competition for these jobs.

We get plenty of reels from India and Europe with students wanting to fly out to Sydney and intern with us. And some of these reels are fantastic. I’m not trying to depress you at all. Sorry if I am.. When you make your reel, you really need something that lifts you above the rest of the pack. You need to prove to me that you are capable of animating/drawing/modelling the different styles that my clients will be needing.

I’ll just mention, that my company isn’t big at all. A lot of the time it’s just Stefan and I in the office, so we’re not always on the lookout for hiring new people. We have the capability to ramp up quickly, but also have the option of staying small when there’s only a little bit of work on. I’m sure larger studios will have different practices when it comes to dealing with graduates. On some projects, we wouldn’t even bother entertaining the idea of hiring juniors, as the project may need seniors to get it completed on time.

These are my tips to stand out from the crowd:

Character Animation
The majority of the reels that are good enough for us to consider at the moment are coming from Animation Mentor students. Animation Mentor is the best at preparing students for the workforce(I know a few others are popping up now). Most of the courses offered in Australia only have character animation as a subject, not as a dedicated course.

If you want to work in character animation, focus on character animation and acting. Don’t worry yourself with learning the ins and outs of modelling and rigging and lighting etc.. It’ll just water down the time you should be animating characters.

This is for 3D of course, for 2D animators, animate characters you could imagine studios needing. Don’t just have an experimental reel. Sand animation is cool, but probably not really useful to me.

Rigging
Rigging is a skill all to its self really. Check out other rigging reels for ideas. Our freelance rigger is a freak’n genius. This is Jordan’s Rigging Reel :)

Rigging/Modelling/FX TD
I get reels from people that are confused with what position they want to go for. These guys are usually heading down the road of being a TD/all rounder. Handy people for smaller studios. You have the danger though of being a jack of all and master of none. So try and focus on one area more than the others. ie model really well, but you can rig and texture and run fx acceptably as well.

Concept Artists
You need to show you can design different concepts for different jobs. No good just having anime style characters in your portfolio(sorry to be harsh). Multiple styles. Having an eye for Graphic Design is important here too. Logo design, typography, layouts etc really helps.

Motion Graphics
Again, it’s great if you can show you’re a good graphic designer. This was our latest call out for work, and the ones that stood out were the ones that had great design work in their animation. Good colour sense and nice designs. If that foundation is there, it’s just a matter of learning the software.

An employer is going to pick the best portfolio out of the bunch. Can you confidently say yours is the best? If you don’t think it is, it just takes a bit more practice and dedication to push your work further.

I’ve recently joined Lynda.com. They have lots of courses on grapahic design, apps etc. I pay about $27/month and have learnt a lot in the 2 months I’ve had it. I know there’s lots of tutes on the web for free, but these are organised in courses and all are good quality. It has a great search engine too. I can do a search for a maya problem I’m having it often there’s a tute for it.

There’s others like DigitalTutors,Tutes+ and Gnomon Workshopetc. They’re a good cheap way to constantly learn new things.

I try and reply with advice to graduates emails, but I don’t always find the time. I apologise if I skipped your email in the past.

Guy

Hope there’s some good info there.
Good luck and happy learning!