Animation Jobs dilemma

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Post by SvenFoster » Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:58 am

Brooke baby... my +1 was based purely on the fact I do not believe there are no animation jobs but admit as I'm just a hobbiest I have nothing to base it on

I have no idea on your background, skill level, family circumstances or how much effort your putting in.

I would guess animation and working in house would be an extremely tough area to get into... Freelance maybe less so.

If I was an animation company, with thousands of young kids filling my inbox with showreels and such all willing to work for peanuts I'd be looking at them as I would have to train them in the production of animations(not just animation).
However.. If someone camped outside my office, turned up with a new animation every week that I though was awsome or a script/storyboard.. offered to be the first one in, last one out, come without any baggage but with the experience gained from the real world and some real potential... I would always take a chance.

you sound switched on. you've done the work, now the soul searching.. This isnt a dig, I have no preconceptions of you.. its not personal... but......
Are you good enough?
Can you be better?
are you what the industry wants?
are you targeting like minded companies?
... many more.

Seriously mate.. I wish you the best as you obviously want it bad.. problem is so do another 10 thousand and there aint enough chairs.

best of luck.
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Post by dm » Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:23 pm


You seem to have answered your own dilemma. You realize that everyone wants slick maya, etc.. You should, of course move on. There's not much use in learning to be a scribe if no one wants or needs a scribe, right? Maybe you just move on, and cut your losses now. Everyone wants to eat, after all. Sometimes that's hard to do, I know. Sad, really.

I found it notable that you mention learning software and coding. I'm not sure what that has to do with animation.

In looking at your samples on your web site, I don't see anything that strikes me as being commercially viable. That is, something related to what an employer would want to hire you to sell to someone else. That mixed media style for a TV show? For a movie? For an advertisement? (look at SvenFoster's questions) I don' know. I guess I'm one of the slow ones who's cluttering up the industries. (I'm sure you'll have the humility to get yourself out of the way once you're cluttering things up-which is far more than I can manage).

If you stick with it, I'm sure you'll do well. You know how fabulous you are. It will just take time for the rest of the world to figure that out. What kind of shoes do you wear? That's probably more important for you to focus on for right now.

good luck to you.
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Post by nutty_Pofessor » Sun Jul 17, 2011 3:50 pm

Your post is quite apt. I have recently been engaged in several conversations touching on the same issue with some of my final year students. In fact, I was forwarded your post by one of them.

I don’t believe that you have or display an attitude. I do feel that you are very cutting in your statements, which unfortunately can tend to rub people the wrong way, especially if it touches a nerve. I do not find offence in anything you have said and am sure most sensible people wouldn’t. If this is what you have experienced, then you are perfectly within your rights to say as much. Most of what you have posted, as previously mentioned, are issues that have been raised by at least 75% of the students I teach, although they are expressed by them in a somewhat more subtle manner. :)

I have personally noticed that discussions and the relaying of such experiences with students on this particular topic, seems to have intensified over the last 3 years. I hate to say it, but it is a fact that many Universities through either their practices and/or standards are letting a vast majority of their students down. This is especially so in areas like work placements, contacts and in the worst cases, general instruction.

I must admit I felt an unexpected smile appear when reading the part about “sell outs and pontificating”. I do hope that I have not yet got to this stage, but unfortunately, there are instances where this does exist. I have observed it first hand. It is not rare that whilst in their role of teaching, lecturers are also studying for additional MAs or contributing to books and papers, or working on their own projects. Students are paying for a certain level of education; it is indeed a very odd practice, [some might say a conflict of interests] to divide yourself between the support and education of your paying students whilst at the same time pursuing or furthering your own personal academic progression.

I have been in the animation industry for 25+ years, have been a guest speaker at many Universities and animation related functions, and for almost a decade have been a tutor/lecturer here in a British University, teaching traditional animation (and over time Flash/After Effects). I am also a personal user of Anime Studio Pro and began using it when it was formally called Moho.

I believe that in my capacity as a tutor/lecturer it is my duty to give the best service to education as I possibly can through both hands-on and theory based lessons. I hope that my students experience this, and I will always endeavour to ensure that I equip them with the practical skills and the insight that they need to secure employment or placements in their field.

I studied and still practice traditional animation. I have seen this industry peak, level out and transform in so many ways. Many of your observations are true. But I do note that you never actually went on an animation course, and can only also surmise from what you have written that you have never studied art. This by no means removes you from the animation equation, but does perhaps add to the dilemma of your suitability to some of the posts you are applying for. Are you applying for 2D animation, motion graphics, 3D, or Post-Production? What is it you want to do?

I note that you have a degree in Digital Media Arts. Do you want to work in mixed media or media interactivity? If so, then you probably have enough disciplines to start approaching these types of companies, which actually appear to be on the increase. But now the dilemma is they want to ‘try you out first’ in the guise of work experience.

I have witnessed this all too often, and this is a sad state of affairs. I have had students of all age ranges and financial situations placed in this predicament. In all honesty, only a few re-emerge unscathed with anything truly beneficial or tangible. The competition is fierce, coupled with the unpredictable nature of the recession, reputable opportunities for either experience or employment are becoming few and far between.

I viewed your website and considering you have never studied animation, you do have great potential. As a point of observation, I feel that some of your work is still a bit raw. It still looks like your exploring your medium and style. I am impressed by the fact that you are the sole creator of your work in relation to the voices, script, music etc., as this clearly indicates somebody with passion, versatility, talent and commitment. Your work can only improve, so although it can be difficult don’t be discouraged by what you are currently experiencing, or by some of the responses or criticisms you are receiving…remember - some critique is not always negatively intended.

Personally, and as a rule, I would always suggest investing the time to study traditional animation and if possible sign up for life classes. Software is great as a tool, but your animations will only truly evolve when you approach and look at a scene or setting with a different perspective. You don’t need to be the world’s best artist, but traditional animation will help you with your timing, slickness of motion, general drawing technique, observational skills and in many other areas.

In regard to your dilemma, only you can make a decision that best suits you. If the above is not viable and your current situation is quite pressing, which it may appear to be, as per the tone of your last post, perhaps taking the path that you find less rewarding but more financially practical ( Post Production) will address your immediate dilemma. This will also allow you to get a foot in the door. Working in an image production environment will certainly be seen as positive and quite advantageous when applying to an animation company. If you have any free time between this, work on or enrol on a part-time traditional animation course. Create some more animations and build up your portfolio.

I’m afraid the current frustration(s) you are feeling is becoming widespread. Times are getting hard for many. I wish you and others like you who find themselves in your predicament, the very best of luck. :)

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Post by jahnocli » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:09 pm

So...if tutors concentrate on students' education at the expense of their own development, they are sell-outs, and if they try to progress their professional and artistic careers they are short-changing their students! Wow -- how can they win?
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Post by AmigaMan » Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:05 pm

Personally, and as a rule, I would always suggest investing the time to study traditional animation and if possible sign up for life classes. Software is great as a tool, but your animations will only truly evolve when you approach and look at a scene or setting with a different perspective. You don’t need to be the world’s best artist, but traditional animation will help you with your timing, slickness of motion, general drawing technique, observational skills and in many other areas.
But this is EXACTLY what most of us were saying?? I think we were trying to help and give advice also. Contrary to what Brooke seemed to believe most, if not all of us that responded had been in the same predicament too!
Yes times are difficult now but no more difficult than when I was trying to get a job in the industry years ago. I turned down a job last week so there are jobs out there. If you are on LinkedIn, which Brooke is I notice, then there are new jobs posted on there almost every day.
By the way, I never studied animation at University or anywhere. I am entirely self taught. Most companies tend to prefer people that are self taught I've found as it shows true passion and commitment. Your show reel is usually all they are interested in.

The company I work for has taken on people lately that have done the Animation Mentor online course. They are always on the look out for people that have a great show reel. Very rarely have people come from University etc
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Post by Mikdog » Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:54 pm

I dunno man...I've also been in that predicament but I never once blamed my external circumstances, I figured it was more that my work wasn't as up to scratch as possible. Sure I've done animation courses but if I just went with what they were teaching me and then to expect a job afterwards - I'd be wrong I think.

-IF- the course you went on guaranteed you employment after you had finished and they didn't follow up on this, that would suck. But if they're just there to teach you some tools, then you can't really rely on getting a job afterwards.

This may sound like hubris and I really hope it doesn't - never once has a potential employer asked where I studied or asked to see any certificate. I've got a business degree in communications whatever the heck that is, and though I did really well in that degree I've never shown anyone my certificate. I'd like to believe its because I've been doing drawing after drawing after drawing while my peers were sleeping or doing something else and hopefully pulled ahead a bit of the hundreds of other people looking for work. That and if work is slow I actively seek out jobs and get super pro-active, doing little spec animations to try and get people to bite.

I don't like doing it but I've been turning away around 5 jobs or so every week for the past little while. (I recently overworked and clutched out in a big way). So taking it easy a little bit. There seems to be a lot of work out there and I think you would have the right to complain if you've tried your absolute best, if your animation showed a bit more implementation of some basic animation principles, if it were a little more polished, and STILL there's no work out there - then sure man, I'd have your back.

The bottom line (yes I did watch some of your stuff on your site) is that I think your work needs work and that is currently why you're not having much luck with jobs.

I suggest getting Richard Williams' 'The Animator's Survival Guide' and read through that, maybe do some rough examples. If they didn't teach it to you in your course its perhaps they may have figured that students may have realized they could have just bought the book in the first place and saved themselves a bunch of tuition money. (If you're self-motivated enough to go through the book).

-EDIT- Also I don't claim to know all there is to know about animation AT ALL. I find it a constant learning process that I'll probably never get to the end of.
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Re: Animation Jobs dilemma

Post by cribble » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:59 am

Sup Brooke. I'm not sure if you want to hear this, but I had a similar experience with education and work and also felt lost and confused.

My background previous to my studies was music, and I did a few animations for friends occasionally. No trad-animation or artistic background really. I got lucky with Newgrounds front page featuring a short I made one summer which then really kicked off my seriousness towards animation and my interest to study it. SO… I totally ballsed up picking a specific animation course and went the "general" route studying a two year FdA in Digital Design and then a top up, third year BSc in Graphics Communication at Bath Spa University. At the time, I was frustrated with the course I was on as I can imagine we had the same experience not feeling like we got the bang-for-buck. So I spent the last two years of study quite bittered about the whole experience. In my second year I took on some freelance work via some ads I found on Gumtree/caught wind of at uni. These were like "we have £250 to do a 2 minute animation lol" or "£120 for a WHOLE website m8". I think the lowest I ever charged for a job was £60 and it ended up taking a month to do and the client never used it! I rule!

Clearly, I was inexperienced as I didn't understand how to fulfill briefs (and boxers, fnar fnar) properly and understand the client, and, ultimately, the audience's needs *glares at university course*… *glares back at myself for probably not listening in class*! Besides, with the amount I was charging I clearly had no value on my skill set, meaning I wasn't confident enough. Because of that I thought I'd go and work in a web development agency in Camden, London between my second and third year, as an intern. Money wise: the internship offered travel and lunch, but during the interview I asked for £12,000/year. I worked for them for three-ish months and returned to do m'third year.

My last year of uni was basically "set your own briefs", which was great, I could set myself a project, do it with a tool I wasn't great with and develop and get something to put in the portfolio. Because I built up a body of work in my last year of uni, and was lucky to have some success with one of the projects, I applied for one job, at a web design agency in Farringdon, London, BOOM got the job with a sweet salary of £22,000/year. I worked there for six months and really learned how an agency works, money managing (too much boozing at uni), clients and, importantly, understanding briefs.

By the time I got the job, my previous portfolio of works was getting me attention on the freelance market somehow and was getting a few requests and jobs in from that. I ended up going freelance the start of 2010, as a New Year's Resolution — And mostly because I wasn't sleeping anymore — and now I've been freelancing since then working on various animation, video and web design/development projects. I'm definitely in my dream job status at the moment and I get to do it how I like and create some awesome outcomes for my clients. I do probably earn less than the £22,000 I used to get from the previous job — my last tax return clocked a small £4,000-ish income considering I had been in business officially for four months when the tax year ended (haven't done my taxes for the year gone thus far) — certainly I'm working my way towards more money, because I want to take on less projects… Because I like sleep :D… But because I feel I'm getting better at what I do with each project and that the work keeps getting better and the clients keep getting happier, which makes me happier, which is what I've always wanted to achieve with my works: To make someone happy!

So… The lessons that I learned with the whole job thing:

Time: As you can see, the above didn't happen overnight. It bothered me that I wasn't on £50k, and it bothered me that university didn't help at all with finding jobs when I was post-grad-core. Mainly, there's that feeling that it just wasn't happening quick enough; Appreciate that moment where you think it's not happening quick enough, as you'll find once you get into a job that time becomes a thing of luxury!

Internships/volunteering (for companies/agencies, not individuals): If you're currently unemployed and on the dole, do them! Make sure they cover your expenses at the very least, or be cheeky and ask for a sod-all salary like I did. It's better to develop and learn skills, and the business, than to do nothing. Besides, you haven't got anything better lined up right? So why the heck not? Plus, you can slap it on your CV and portfolio! Bonus. I know I mentioned I worked at a lot of web agencies, but the same applies for most creative industries… Fingers in pies, I say! Some people will scoff at what I just said, but in an industry which basis its employment and salary on experience (which also ties in with the works and quality), it's kind of important to build it up and really work on it.

DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF: This is the most important lesson I've learnt over the years and it's got me into the position I am nowadays. In creating personal projects and showcasing them (either on the web or at film festivals) I found that more doors opened and new clients popped along for a yabber. Not only did those projects help me get work but it also gave me the opportunity to explore new stylistics and technologies, which meant I was keeping up to date and learning new skills to deploy in future projects. Heck, I even took up life drawing classes and went back to traditional animation roots for fun! I also did a music video for my friend's band just because I wanted to hold a video camera for a couple of hours and get to grips with Adobe Premiere. And, to top it all off, it feels fucking awesome to make your own stuff, am I right? I know a lot of people here animate for fun, a bit on the side sort of thing, and they know how satisfying it is when they make something that looks great, and their audience and peers love it. Not to mention it'll keep the inner-creative in you sane.

No idea if this is of use to you, or to anyone, but this is from one frustrated graduate to another and I can only offer my experience that this pube-less chin has to offer thus far and maybe that someone finds some use or inspiration out of it. I dunno…

TL;DR: Work on projects for yourself and build up a sweet portfolio; you can also intern/volunteer whilst you do this and whilst you're on the dole. It won't happen over night, but if you stay focused, you'll get there and achieve what you want to achieve quicker then you'll imagine.
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