S'up British (and world) animators? y'all klnow 'bout this? It's next year, yeah? they're looking for entries now right? and there's an animated sting competition. dig it. you'd be a fool not to.
It’s a one stop shop for the industry to see the best of the best- each University displays the work of only their top ten students.
With more and more games and animated movies using performance capture technology, will it be the death of traditional hand animation? This week, Story Board Artist and Animator, Ben Bowen, suggests there is room for them both to live together.
Lessons in Getting Animated
I’ve been working in comedy animation for 21 years and in that time I’ve been lucky to have worked on some great projects, with some really great people.
Working in animation isn’t ‘work’ like my dad knew the meaning of the word, but I can safely say it hasn’t been easy. From what I’ve seen, a career in any creative field, from writing, performing, camera work, sound, music,… production, programming, (everything), takes a tenacity and self belief bordering on madness. Animation is no exception.
I’ve put teams together and over the years given numerous people their first break into the industry. I’m now a member of the Skillset Animation Skills Council, we try to encourage the provision of quality skills provision in education.
It’s apparent that since I left college in the ancient times, things have changed, not necessarily for the better.
The easy availability of digital tools and the web means there’s hardly any barriers for anyone wanting to make and distribute animation now. It’s an empowering time; literally anyone with a computer, an idea and some time, can have a go at it. Animation really is a great thing to do and I don’t blame anyone for wanting to be part of the animation world, but you’ve got to be concerned about what’s been happening in higher education over the last decade.
The political push to increase university education places has meant that as animation is seen as a ‘popular’ subject, so the number of animation courses on offer in the UK has grown from a handful to a point where there seems to be a course in every education establishment across the country.
The unpopular fact is that animation production in the UK is a niche specialism. There’s never going to be enough work for everyone emerging from these courses. Another unpopular fact is that while everyone with a computer might think they’ve got the means to do it, really, it’s not an easy thing to do well! It takes time, effort, application and an odd collection of talents to ‘make it’ in animation.
Of course, there’s some excellent courses run by some great teachers, but the sad fact is that the way funding of today’s courses works, means that in many places there’s too many students, courses aren’t selective enough, resources are stretched and teaching more difficult. Even the most talented students must find it difficult. A lot of students (and their parents who are often paying for it) are wasting their time and money if they think that a course is the automatic way into a job. It just isn’t.
Each year a new bunch of excited graduates leap out into the workplace and while there’s always some excellent one’s in there, I’m sorry to say that I’ve seen too many poor showreels to know that too many of the animation courses have low standards, or don’t prepare people for the idea of finding work.
I’ve heard it said that the future of our economy relies upon the growth of the creative sector. Obviously, that includes animation too, so let’s hope that’s right, but even if there’s a sudden huge increase in demand for UK animation, it’s difficult to see how all these young people entering the already competitive market are going to find work in their chosen field.
So, if you’re intent on a career in animation, be prepared to see off the competition. Here’s a few tips for what I look out for:
Don’t take it personally, accept that most people you’re trying to get work from are busy, so make your showreel short and concise. Less really is more.
Most producers will like to know if you’ve had the experience of producing narrative work, but they won’t have the time to watch films in their entirety. Get your most critical friends to tell you which are the ‘best bits’ and cut a 1 minute compilation featuring those bits along with sequences that illustrate technical nouce; acting skill, understanding of weight and timing, (some line tests are fine). Think carefully about music and effects and ensure the reel’s as high quality as you can make it.
Regardless of which area of animation you want to get into, drawing will always be important. I’m not the only person who likes to see evidence of a genuine passion for drawing – not just formal life drawing from classes – but real sketch books which have been carried about and USED. A slideshow presentation of a cross section is a good start, but be prepared to take the ‘real thing’ to the interview.
If you get the interview, remember you’re looking to join a team. Try to show what a pleasant, witty and unassuming person you are.
It won’t be easy, but then if it were easy they’d all be doing it!
Tim Searle is Producer/Director at Baby Cow Animation
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