#ProTips – Applying to animation studios

This month Jamie Denham from London based studio, Sliced Bread Animation offers his insight into a successful animation job application.

1. Always put your best work first and keep shots to a minimum length

We get an average of 5 speculative applications per day, other larger studios will get at least 50. In the first 10-seconds of a reel you will have a pretty good idea if the applicant has ‘got it’ or not, or indeed if there is something of interest that makes you want to carry on watching. If your best work is anything beyond 10-seconds it could be missed. It is recommended that you put your primary discipline first (animation, texturing or modelling etc.). Top and tail your reel with name and contact details (email and mobile). And keep those walk cycles to 3 seconds max!

I would also recommend getting a fellow student or tutor to feedback on your reel, as an artist you can become very attached to your work. Therefore getting third party feedback before you make an application, can be very helpful. Face-to-face networking is also good in this respect, in London there are a number of meet ups for animators, some even have Show and Tell events providing you with the opportunity to showcase your work.

2. Be very clear on what aspects of the reel you actually did

Showing that scene you worked on a Harry Potter film is all well and good, but which ‘bit’ did you actually do? It’s really important that you present work you can do comfortably, it will become very obvious, very quickly if you can’t and that’s not going to help build your reputation or career in animation.

3. Give the viewer some idea of how long the shot took

All studios are a business, and whilst we all want to create outstanding work, the time it takes to create that work is important. We have to cut our cloth to suit the budget. Often budgets are tight which means you need to be creative in your thinking and get the work done efficiently. Examples of work you did on a quick turnaround, and others where you had a bit more time, are really useful to see.

4. Sending email applications

Make sure you address the person directly (if you can), put a link of your reel in the body of your email, give a very, very brief description of the role you are applying for, and your strengths (including software competency). At Sliced Bread we like to see examples of traditional art, mainly life drawing. Support it with a CV, but to be honest we only really look at them after we have looked at the reels. Sign it off with you name, and contact details (again).

5. Ask for feedback

You may of course not always get it but there will be the odd case and it will help you when applying at other studios, but always follow up, expressing an interest to work with that studio. Timing is everything, I got my first break by my CV being the top one, in a drawer of many others. If other CV’s had come in that day, I wouldn’t have got given an opportunity.

Draw, draw, draw and draw! I can’t emphasis enough how important traditional art skills are, learning the software only is only a means to the creative process, it is not the creative process.

“You get a lot of reels that are the same type of reel all featuring the same exercises. But the ones that are rare are where the applicant has done something different in their approach.” – Pixar’s Andrew Gordon


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