As the owner of an animation studio, I often get asked “What skills do I need to become an animator?”. The world of animation is forever evolving, of course most of it is computer based these days but core skill still comes from the traditional space. Basically if your drawing is a bit rusty, get back down to those life-drawing classes.
Be forever drawing
No matter how well you know a piece of software, drawing should always be number one on the list if you want to be an animator, if you can’t draw you can’t animate, if you can’t draw you can’t build models, if you can’t draw you can’t design backgrounds etc., etc.
To be a good animator you must understand shape and form, and you only get that from drawing. Make sure you ask people to critic you drawings too, and be willing to accept feedback, it can be hard to take on, but you always need to be practising and improving.
(side note: stay away from copying Manga style drawings!)
This book is great at showing you how to break down shapes that create (super) human form: How to Draw Comics the “Marvel” Way by Stan Lee
One of the strangest things I had to do in my first proper animation job, was acting out my scenes, even though I had spent previous years studying drama and doing formal drama exams (LAMDA), it still felt weird. You don’t need to go that far, but understanding how humans and animals move is key to being a good animator.
You will hear a lot of talk about ‘timing’, that’s the bit where there maybe a pause then a fast piece of action, a stare and then a reaction, a recoil and then throw, all of these have been well observed by the animators that created them. I used to watch films and then view them back frame-by-frame, to see how it was all broken down. Have a look for yourself and see how far you can push your style.
Know what you want to do
In the world of animation there are many types of jobs, you may want to think about specialising, but also think about being a generalist. There is a place in the industry for both types, but if you specialise make sure that your job has longevity and always keep up with trends. You will also want to think about whether you prefer 2D or 3D animation, or indeed both. Go networking, talk to other animators about what they do to get a feel of the types of jobs there are.
I believe there is no ‘fast-track’ into the industry it’s all about, practice, and more practice! Trust me, by doing that you’ll get there.
Festivus over on Facebook, host regualr animator meet-ups in London: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2375758420/?ref=group_header
Future thinking VR/ Unity
As mentioned above, future thinking is key. One of the biggest upsets in the animation in the last 10 years was the death of Flash. Many animators loved the application (and still do) but its place in the new online space was doomed. Flash was extremely vulnerable from a security perspective, and took up quite a lot of processing power it had to go.
The digital world is a wide open space now, and animation plays a key part in content creation, especially considering new channels such as virtual reality, augmented reality and holograms (watch this space!). If you are thinking about going into this area, do consider leaning more around coding, using apps such as Unity or Unreal.
I hope those little snippets help, feel free to contact me via the channels below…
Written by Jamie Denham
Managing Director of Sliced Bread Animation
Sliced Bread Animation produces high-impact, bespoke immersive experiences for marketing, corporate communications and e-learning, including virtual reality and augmented reality projects. Our work has won many awards for both us, and our clients.
We have an unrivalled reputation for offering complete and seamless project management, partnering with clients to create innovative, original multi-platform digital content strategies. We transform messages into compelling stories that captivates target audiences. So whether clients are looking to increase sales, develop brand awareness, or reach out to employees, we work hard to get the results they want.
We create games, apps, animation, explainer, films, infographics and illustrated content for education, marketing and internal communications that push the boundaries of technology and design, whilst working seamlessly across all platforms.
If you’re an aspiring animator you’re probably thinking of attending one of the many animation/VFX festivals, with a view to visiting your favourite studios in the recruitment area to nail that dream job. Easy right?
Not so much. But coming prepared will certainly help you stand out from the crowd, so as veterans of the recruitment stand we’ve put together our top tips on festival etiquette and how to make a good impression while you’re there.
Top ten tips: How to impress at a recruitment stand
First things first, you may be wondering why come to the festival? Will it really make any difference? Unequivocally the answer is yes. Aside from all the great talks and demos you can watch and learn from, you are meeting potential employees who love to put a face to a name (or showreel).
You’ll also be mingling with the wider animation community who are a great resource and a tight-knit bunch who can potentially open doors for you throughout your career.
If you’re nice, polite and attentive, people will want to work with you. It’s the same as in a job interview. Good advice for life in general really.
Even if you’re not the most confident person in the world, if you’re relaxed you’re more likely to make a good first impression. It’s important to remember that we’ve all been in the same situation as you, so there’s no need to be nervous.
Don’t ‘lurk’ (we can see you), give a firm handshake, ask direct questions so you find out what you need, have a two-way conversation so we’re likely to remember you, and don’t just take all the free stuff!
Google us! Research a bit about who’s at the festival and the kind of work they produce. We’re not going to believe that you want to work with us if you don’t know what we do!
Bring the right kit
Nothing’s more frustrating than having to wait 5/10 minutes whilst someone tries to access their film/reel, then having to try and view it on a phone. Bring a tablet or laptop, make sure it’s ready to roll, make sure it’s brief, and make sure the screen’s clean!
Oh, and please don’t offer us in-ear headphones (blurgh!!!).
Take notes and remember who you’ve seen
If you take notes, whether or not you read them again, it looks like you’re taking on board what we’re saying and are likely to implement our suggestions. It shows you’re taking things seriously, and on a practical level it will help you remember who you’ve seen and what they’ve said!
Don’t overstay your welcome
Have some consideration for the other people who are waiting and don’t overstay your welcome – lack of awareness will reflect badly on you. We don’t need to watch a 10-minute film to be able to give you feedback, so keep your work brief. Also, don’t give us business cards! Take the details of the person you’re speaking to and contact them yourself (we don’t have time to contact everyone we meet).
Stay in touch…
Staying in touch and making connections undoubtedly helps when you’re looking for work, and you won’t be forgotten if you drop us a line from time to time with new work or just to say hi. Don’t always expect something in return, and if you’re connecting via LinkedIn be courteous and briefly introduce yourself (we can’t remember every name!).
…but not too much
Don’t pester! It’s a good idea to have a reason to get in touch, like new work, but if not be professional, concise, and keep it to a minimal just to stay on our radar.
Listen to our advice
Most importantly – listen to us! We know what we’re talking about. We remember what advice we’ve given people and can see when they’ve taken it on board. As an employer, this is important to us as it reflects your work ethic. If you’ve no new work to show us, hold off getting in touch and concentrate on improving your skills. Patience and perseverance will pay off in the end.
Good luck on your recruitment journey!
From the team at AnimDojo and Blue Zoo Animation.
Blue Zoo is one of the UK’s leading animation studios with an enviable client list and a shelf full of BAFTAs for their trademark CG character animation. They’ve produced some of the most well-loved kids shows on TV, memorable commercials, and their animated shorts are rapidly gaining world-wide recognition for artistry and innovation.
AnimDojo is a new breed of CG animation training for the 21st century. It’s been designed from the ground up to be efficient, affordable & flexible, focusing on short, structured exercises to help build your self-critiquing skills.