Posts Tagged “application”

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

Acting up

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.

The Animators Survival Kit by Richard Williams and Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair are great starter books.

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:

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
@3djamie on Twitter
@slicedbreadanim on Twitter
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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.

To find more perfect gadgets and accessories for your virtual businesses, check out Instash

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