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Professional Practice Industry Research

For this assignment: we are tasked with keeping a blog detailing our individual research into the animation job industry, alongside applying what we learn when it comes to creating our industry facing materials, (CV, cover letter + showreel). For me personally, I’ve known I’ve wanted to be in the animation industry since I was 12. I thought I was hot stuff that discovered the concept of what I found out years later to be 2D rigging. Funnily enough, I’m not. Over the years the jobs I’ve aspired to end up in have hopped from a ‘Storytime Animator’ on YouTube, to a studio owner/graphic novelist, to a storyboard artist. From this last year and a bit in uni, I’ve learnt I have a surprising passion for being the head of a team - so that has spurred my dreams of establishing an animation studio even more. Until then, I believe I’d work best either as an animator, or a clean-up animator.


Through this module, I aim to look further into the role of an animator in particular, and end up equipped with the materials needed to attain work in the industry.


Animator:


Before I had much knowledge of roles in the industry, the term ‘animator’ was just what I put anyone who animated professionally under the umbrella of. From seeing online studios such as ‘Spindlehorse Studios’ and the work of online animators like James ‘TheOdd1sOut’, Jaiden Animations, etc, I’ve learnt that the role of animator better describes the work of someone who does the rough animation for a project before the clean-up artists take it and complete the lining, colouring, etc for it.


A definition of the job title is as follows:

An animator produces multiple images called frames, which when sequenced together create an illusion of movement - this is known as animation. The images can be made up of digital or hand-drawn pictures, models or puppets. Animators tend to work in 2D, 3D model-making, stop-frame or computer-generated animation.

A more in-depth description of the work an animator does is as such:


2D animators don’t necessarily produce the finished ‘line’ seen on screen. They concentrate more on the overall action and character performance in a scene. They will usually produce a few clean, on model drawings as needed, for the assistant animator to follow. These are known as tie-downs.

Job Listings:


In order to have a better insight on the workings and requirements of the role of an animator, I looked into some listings I found online:


https://www.indeed.com/viewjob?jk=de32e87c6feaad58&tk=1fn0baq3ct5t9800&from=serp&vjs=3

https://animatedjobs.com/jobs/multiple-positions-for-2d-animation-project/

https://www.indeed.com/viewjob?jk=4793e4daf2d775c2&tk=1fn0baq3ct5t9800&from=serp&vjs=3



The job descriptions tended to vary in specificalities, but generally outlined the requirements as seen below:

  • Be able to stick to deadlines

  • Be proficient in numerous softwares

  • Be able to adapt to different styles and stick to guidelines

I gathered that job listings like the ones above tend to invite the applicant to list their strengths within the industry in particular. The listings tend to vere less from being specific to 'clean-up artist', 'character assistant' and rather stick under the umbrella term of 'animator'. Most of the listings require proficiency in at least one software - and some listing will even show that in the title itself, ('TV Paint Animation Project'). Sites like Indeed make it really easy with its UI to see what a job's looking for - but tend to have few and vague listings when it comes to animation. It also provides tips based on what infor you've given the site on how to improve your chances of landing the job.


Following this: I also figured it would be worthwhile to see if this animator/youtuber that I like had any advice on what would help make a good CV/showreel:


https://www.youtube.com/c/mewTripled



Michelle's videos usually centre around industry-focused topics, with helpful advice on how to deal with the current social media treatment against the artists on their sites, and dealing with burnout. She's currently working on her own graphic novel, but as the video above implies: she's also done work for Netflix. Although this particular video didn't provide much insight on CV or reel design, it taught me that putting your work out there can lead to great things - particularly keeping a Linkedin/Instagram profile.



CV:


One of the outcomes needed for our industry facing materials was a CV. To begin work on mine, I decided to look at the CV I had been using for regular jobs:

The problem lies with the wordy and length nature of it. I also didnt have much experience with paid work, so I just crammed in all the experience I had gotten from school placements - creating an unfocused selection of experiences that didn't really appeal to one industry at a time.


During our classes on CV perparation, I learnt that your education is not as heavily important as you might have hoped from spending 7 years in high school being told the opposite. So thankfully, that meant no need to list all my GCSE grades. We were also given some graphic design tips - contrast being a key notion to keep in mind. We were shown some bad eamples, along with some better ones. What I gathered from the best quality ones, is that minimalism with a touch of flair is good for the CV design itself. Keeping the fonts to a small pool of choice makes things easier to take in and read - and whilst images/logos are good, its should really be reserved for your best work, and used sparingly.


I also really liked the idea of presenting what software Im profficient in in image form. It seemed clean, effective and simple; easier on the eyes than a boring, lengthy list of software names.


Following this class, I did some research on what made a good CV specifically for the animation industry:


https://enhancv.com/resume-examples/animator/#:~:text=In%20short%2C%20what%20makes%20a,to%20effectively%20collaborate%20with%20others


https://www.dayjob.com/animator-cv-template-3147/


https://businessofanimation.com/how-to-make-an-animation-resume-is-it-different/






The general tips that I gathered from this research was as such:

  • Keep things simple and brief

  • Be job specific - make changes to your CV based on what role you're applying for

  • Career experience and skills take priority visually over education

  • Simple but professional CV design

When looking at the CV examples that we were provided with, I really appreciated how personal they were to each student. Little choices such as colour palettes and fonts make a surprising difference - even down to things like text placements. When thinking of mine, I knew I wanted a fresh, clandestine vibe. I wanted a clean, professional look that still had a bubbly feel to it. Initially I figured I'd go for a loose space theme, but I decided against it in the end as elements such as stars and planets might cause a cluttered CV. I just figured I'd start with a light blue gradient and see where I went from there. I ended up getting the idea to add clouds near the header and footers of the document - which I really vibed with. I used opaque, white clouds to create a clean cut-out gap near the footer, in order fir me to have a neat place to list my software proficiencies in. Initially, I was going to just list them - but when I tested that out I soon saw how cluttered and hard to read it would be with a white font, and the amount of software I was going to list. Looking at CV examples again, I got inspired to simply use the logos of said software and simply line them up in a row. I saved a bunch of logo PNGs, took them into Clip Studio Paint, and whited them out. Next I added my Instagram profile-pic, as I really love the image and figured it was clean and bold enough to represent me. I then added some text for my name and contact details, before taking a break.


When I next came back to it however, I started picking holes in the design I had. I didn't like the header clouds being blue, and I found the fonts to be rather bland. Additionally, I had been working on creating a logo for myself in Illustrator in my free time - so I decided to swap out the image I had with this new logo. I sketched out a bunch of design ideas based on things I associate my 'brand' with. I then consulted my friend, (who has a degree in graphic design) on the designs - and we both decided we liked the middle right sketch most. They then walked me through the basics of Illustrator, since I imagined using it would help create a cleaner, more professional logo. I stuck with the fox branding that I have, and tried to retain the paint splatter effect I had with my old logo. I'm in love with the final result, although I ended up sihouetting it for my CV as the colours didn't work well with the background, making it hard to see.



Next, I knew I wanted to select a total of 3 fonts that I would use for my CV: a title font, a subheading font, and a plain text font. I figured 3 would be not too much, and not too little - pleasing and varied yet uncomplicated. I knew I wanted the latter font to be one I had made for myself years back - the one this blog is written in, actually. I then downloaded probably 30+ fonts so I could decide on the remaining 2. I was pretty solid on my choice of 'Bodo Amat' for the subheading font - so all that remained was the title font. I went through a process of screenshotting the fonts I thought looked good alongside the other two - then I consulted my friend again to see what they believed were strong combos. The final decision ended up being 'FoundationTitlesHand', (fourth row in the middle).


After I finished with design choices, I started filling in the information required. I put my experience on top of the visual hierarchy. I’ve spent numerous occasions completing work experience at Whitenoise studios, but I figured it would be best to keep things condensed and relevant - as i observed in the example CVs. I next added my education history, making sure to summarise my grades instead of listing every single subject. When it came to writing the ‘about me’ section, I kept it in the first person - remembering to list aspects of myself that would be relevant to employers in the animation industry.



Overall, I'm really happy with the CV outcome I was able to produce. I think the aesthetics are nice, whilst striking a balance between showing personality, and remaining sleek and professional. I'm grateful for the knowledge I gained from the research and process of making this CV, and can only hope it'll help me break into the animation industry.


Cover Letter:


Next up was creating my cover letter - an important piece of material for breaking into the animation industry, or really an industry. A cover letter is a document that provides additional info about yourself, and why you'd be best for the job, to the employer. Before we were to start crafting our own, we were to research studios and job listings to apply for.


Originally, I figured I'd apply for a role at Whitenoise Studios, Belfast. I had done work experience for them back during my second year of GCSEs, and have since spent mutliple more work experience periods there in my free time. I'm friends with many of the staff, and they've guaranteed me a spot with them during my placement year. However, when I went to check what jobs they had available, neither was really appropriate for my current skillset:



The next studio I had in mind was Double Jump Studios, also in Belfast, as previous Whitenoise employees had moved to work there, and I had been due to do work experience with them in my first year of A Levels, before complications arised. However, they had no job listings at all.


I searched for more job listings under "Animation" on sites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, NiJobs, LinkedIn, but the closest thing I could find to the role of an animator was 'graphic designer' which uh. Wasn't exactly it. However, I soon remembered that one of my colleagues from WHitenoise had told me that Cartoon Saloon usually had job listings up - plus I had contact the head of the company, Tom Moore, back in junior school through my art club. I checked for their job listings and found the following:


https://www.cartoonsaloon.ie/positions/


Position

  • Following the Director’s vision and under the guidance of Animation Supervisor and Animation Leads, the animator will play a critical role in bringing to life the character performance, in line with the general style of the series, respecting the acting guidelines given in the brief, and voice performance and making sure their work is consistent with the rest of the production.

  • Job Responsibilities:

  • Work in direct relation with the Animation Supervisor and Animation Leads to produce quality 2D animations in Toon Boom Harmony and support the team in this direction.

  • Work in close collaboration with the Rigg and Scene Prep teams

  • Animation will be created using Posing, Layout & model sheet packs

  • Ensure quality and style consistency with the series

  • Bring ideas and creative solutions for both visual and technical aspects of animation

  • Participate in the creation and maintenance of Toon Boom Harmony animation library and create cycles (characters walks, runs, etc) when required by production

  • Ensure that all levels inside Toon Boom Harmony are labeled accordingly using the established naming conventions

  • Deliver animation on time for approval by Animation Supervisor and Animation Leads

  • Meet weekly quotas as established by production management

  • Able to apply notes and retakes to the work after review

  • Address any problems and communicate progress of work to the Production Manager and Coordinator

  • Availability on Google Chat and by email during working hours.

  • This list in not exhaustive and might be complemented by reasonable and related tasks that are requested of you

  • Able to work in-house in Kilkenny, Ireland.


Requirements

  • Industry experience in animation on a series production (ideally 3+ years but open to promising animators with good experience at junior and mid level who are looking to eventually step up)

  • Strong sense of the usual animation principles such as weight, balance, appeal, timing, believable character performances.

  • Extensive knowledge of ToonBoom Harmony; hand drawn & rigged animation experience is essential

  • Excellent organisation and attention to detail / accuracy

  • Positive focused approach to work and willingness / ability to inspire a team

  • Proactive approach – continuously finding ways to improve processes for the team for ease and efficiency and receptive / adaptable to change



I knew I wanted to keep the same background aesthetic for my cover letter, although I made sure to remove any extra elements from it that would be distracting.


For the first section, we were advised to talk about how we found the job listing, as well as showing our knowledge for the company we were applying to, and generally show our excitement for the position. Since I’ve had contact with Tomm over the years, as well as interviewing him for my art dissertation during my last year of A Levels, I had a good few points of shared passions to write about, along with knowledge of his work. The second section was to be devoted to talking about what skills we had that would suit the job; from studying the job description, I made sure to talk about my skills of contributing ideas in a team setting, keeping consistent with character drawing and being on model, being able to work with rigging, etc. And even though I had no experience with TV Paint, my experience with numerous other animation softwares gives me a good knowledge of how animation software UIs ans basics work across the board. The third section was for discussing experience that related to the job listing in particular. I gave more in-depth details on work experience from Whitenoise, as well as mentioning my uni work from last year, as the 2D animation completed in a team setting was more appropriate than the 3D work completed this year. I completed the letter with a reminder of my reel, as well as my thanks.



Overall, I’m very pleased with my cover letter! I’m really thankful I learnt the importance and methods of cover letters, as previously I hadn’t given them much attention, let alone when it came to applying for jobs in the animation industry.

Showreel:


The last element that needed completing was my showreel. Ironically I'd been stressed out about getting one sorted before I even knew about this module, so I was relieved that this was a chance to be taught the ins and outs of forming one of a professional standard. Going into this module, I had limited finished work that was recent, as I often get discouraged by my lack of skills with animation to keep at my own projects. Thankfully, this year I was able to cross some things off my list that I'd been planning, but I still needed more for a bulked out showreel.


Before working on it, I had these finished clips:


(accidentally but equally amusingly sped up GIF of the character, Dan Fortesque from the game series 'MediEvil')


(test animation depicting the transformation of my spin-off character, Redd, from his regular state to his 'pooka form')


(clip depicting the character Oshiro - created by @graphic.ginger on Instagram - and his son, Yele, created by me)


To begin work on adding to my reel, I scoured through the ideas for short animations I had written down. Worked out the rough time length of all the clips I was planning to use, as well as raking into accountability the added length an intro/ending would possibly provide.


Over the course of the next few weeks, I was able to complete these animations that I would later include in the reel:


(animation in the style of the popular 'ENA' Youtube series/upcoming game. Surprisingly all modelling and clean-up was done within two days. Modelling and 3D animation was completed in Blender, whilst the character, Sai was animted in Clip Studio Paint. Editing done in After Effects)



(one of the shots I signed up to animate for the Dobustu No Mori Reanimated project. Animation and assets were produced in Clip Studio Paint, while compositing and background effects were done in After Effects)



(test animation of my character, Fritz. Just something simple but hopefully strong to show his movement/personality. All of it was produced in Clip Studio Paint)


(Animated clip of the P!ATD song, 'Hurricane'. All 2D animation/assets were produced in Clip Studio Paint, whilst editing/effects were done in After Effects. Clean-up took forever on this one but I'm really happy with the end result)


I really loved this reel in particular. Not only was the work displayed incredible, I really gained an interest for the dragon(?) character as shown in the thumbnail, and in multiple of the clips contained in the reel. Again, the minimalism of the editing made it simple to digest - with the labelling of info for each clip being a neat insight into what each clip was for. The transition to the ending information was also really smooth yet simple.


I really enjoyed the intro to this reel - however I think it would be to complex of a task to try impliment into my own reel. The black bars also add a neat cinematic touch. I think I ejoyed the handdrawn 2D work that was showcased best - it showed great style, along with really cool fake camera-work that I would love to learn the ropes of someday. Again, a minimalistic approach to the editing - although I think I'll refrain from including the audio from my clips so to not break the 'flow'. One change I would've made to this reel would be to perhaps make a more striking thumbnail? One that clearly showed that this was a reel.


As this is my friend's work, I have a slight bias towards it unsurprisingly. I once again love the minialisim of the editing, the unintrusive music, and the variation of styles shown across the reel. It shows not only a good range of styles, but also a good, varied skillset, (storyboards/rough passes/animation/clean up/compositing). However, per suggestions that we were given in class, I think it's best I only keep finished work in my reel.


What I will try to impliment based on the info I learnt from these reels and in class is as follows:

  • Best work shown at the start and finish, as its what the viewer or potential employer will remember most

  • Instrumental music without lyrics

  • Minimalistic editing



Following along with this tutorial was super easy, and allowed me to add a little flair to the text in my showreel. I added fade-ins/outs to the text where appropriate to achieve a "clean" effect.


The final showreel can be seen below:

Overall, I’m super beyond pleased with the outcome of my reel. I think its uboth sleek and professional. I’m confident that it shows off my best completed work so far, and shows off my range both in art styles and types of animation. I’m super thankful to have completed this and to finally cross it off my list.

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