I want to become a professional animator, but at the moment it seems really difficult to get the opportunity and experience to work at a studio. If anyone has any advice on how to get my foot in the door of an animation studio, please let me know, I would greatly appreciate it!
Have you done any animation? If not. Make them. If yes, compile the best stuff you have in a 30 second reel with no intro and no outro. Just your name in the bottom corner barely visible.
To the above I would add, use all of the resources you can find on the internet. Tutorials on Blender and animation and just endless information. And again, just to point to the importance, practice a lot. And put together a great reel. You will have no issues getting work if you do that.
What are effective ways to attract attention to your reel?
Best places to put it (vimeo, youtube, artstation …)?
What value is a degree or certificate from formal study?
What do potential employers dislike?
Should you apply for many jobs or focus on certain ones?
What are traps or mistakes to avoid?
Here’s advice from a Dreamworks animator for an animation reel:
Another way to get into a studio is to take a job like a “Render Wrangler”, “Render Assistant”, or “Render TD”: https://www.entertainmentcareers.net/pixar/technical-director-rendering/job/326669/
These are typically extremely low-paid, not-fun jobs, but they are meant to get your foot in the door. The benefit of those jobs is that you meet people in lots of different areas, because you have to process renders for every department. If you strike up a good working relationship you can leverage that into a production job. It doesn’t just work for Render Wranglers, however. You can get a job in the Facilities department, or delivering packages, or working the front desk. Literally ANY job at a big studio will let you meet people who will help you into production roles if you’re cool and can show some skills.
I worked at a big studio, and I sat right next to the Render Assistants. All of the ones I worked with became animators, lighters, fx artists, modelers, etc. I also have friends who did the other, even less glamorous roles as I mentioned, and they all have careers in art. I also wanted to be an artist but my reel was terrible, so I got in via my coding skills. I never did end up becoming a production artist because I realized I actually liked video games way more than movies. I went that route and became a Technical Artist.
Just to add to all these great advice you got here.
I’ve seen that you asked questions about simulation of some sort on BA. You could go the route to make simulations and make them good enough to get a foot inside a smaller studio or get some freelance work.
By direct contact of people looking to hire you. Any place that has ads for work. From my experience avoid the “Fiver” type sites or other sites that claim to offer freelance jobs. Just me. Hunt down places that are looking to hire and submit your work directly.
You can also contact studios directly and go to the jobs section of websites where they have listings of current jobs they are looking to fill. Follow the guidelines.
You Tube is probably the best platform, but don’t rely on social media or wait to go viral. Do the promotion yourself.
Instigram and so on are also good, so I hear. But you sill have to promote yourself.
For most artist jobs, including animation, not much. Some more technical jobs such as programing or robotics and so on, it might matter more.
Problems with attitude, flaky responsibility and general unprofessional behavior.
In the beginning look for any jobs even if they don’t pay. As you get better and more experience you can start to learn what jobs not to bother applying for. But always apply and promote a lot.
- Not working to get as good as you can on your own.
- Being too picky about pay in the beginning. Get tons and tons of experience.
- No matter the pay, the situation or how bad the job is, always, always do your best work.
- Always and I mean always deliver much much better than what is expected in terms of quality of your work. Of course many times you will have deadlines. But always work extra hard to make each project as good as you can. Do not lower the quality of work based on the pay. Ever!
- Regarding money, it will happen one day, and you will cross this bridge. You will find it is a waste of time to work for people who are not willing to pay you what you are worth. You will know when that day comes. Just don’t try to force it in the beginning or you won’t advance. And then, (and only then) #6 becomes a new policy.
- Don’t work for people unwilling to pay you a good wage. They are a cancer and a waste of your time!
- Because you have always been doing the best job regardless, you are building a great demo reel of past work. Use this to promote yourself to get better and better paying work until you hit #5.
- Anytime you have free time go back to #1 and keep working to get better, learn new skills, and software, and make it more possible to get work.
If you first get as good of a reel as you can on your own first, and apply these simple steps and always promote yourself, you will be working all the time. And even if it means struggling in the beginning, so be it. But keep going and if you have talent you will be working all the time.
This is the basic formula I have applied to get work as a freelancer and then eventually open a small studio. And we rinse and repeat my simple approach. It works!
I want to thank you all so much for the incredible advice, I will keep all of it in mind as I continue forward!
As for the low-paying freelance jobs, about how much experience in Blender should I have to start doing them? I think that is where I am hesitating a little bit.
That is a useful possibility to add onto my portfolio! That’s true, I have been trying to implement more physics simulations into more of my practice projects. With the help from amazing Blender and animation experts like you and continuous tweaking of the settings, I am having an easier time with them.
I never knew that there was an option like this. Probably after doing freelancing for a while I should seek to become a Render Assistant?
Thank you, Richard_Culver! I will keep trying to find more resources for Blender. You’re right, it seems like a never-ending sea of information!
I had only a remote idea of what an animation reel was supposed to look like! Thank you, BigBlend for clarifying this part for me!
You’ll know when people start accepting your applications for work… lol
But seriously, start by comparing the quality of your work to other professionals. You should be doing that at the start. And learning Blender is a matter of going through the manual and doing tutorials.
Since you are wanting to animate, if that is all you want to do, you don’t have to know everything. Just learn how to use the supplied rigs, get some pre-made characters and rigs and learn everything you can about Blender with regards to animating. If you have wider interests, that is fine too. But whatever it is start someplace. Start with one skill and everything you need to know to support that skill and showcase your work.
So you want to be so familiar with that skill and the tools that you know your way around. A great way to test this is go to the support forums and see if you can actually help people. You will be surprised that if you work hard to learn everything, that other people don’t work as hard. And they ask a lot of “stupid” questions that they could have known the answer to with a little digging. This is just how it is. Or there are some advanced things that are not as obvious.
So, visit the support forums to learn things, follow threads, ask some of those “stupid” or advanced questions and soon you will feel confident that you know at least as much or more than the average user. And soon, you will be answering questions.
This is all leading to make you feel competent. That confidence will lead you to also feel it is time to start looking for work. When you think you can hold your own in any kind of setting.
It is never too soon to go to the volunteer threads and ask to help.
And as I mentioned at the top, you will know when people start taking your seriously and let you help them, either for free or on some low paying work.
Just remember there is a lot of competition out there. So you will have to work your ass off to get good enough and also know Blender well enough. It is not impossible. You can do it. But be willing to put in the work to get there.
yes, ANY job in a big studio, even sweeping the floors will expose you to amazing, top-class artists of every discipline, show you the realities of production, and give you a leg up. Once you’re in the door, no matter how, you have more opportunities to learn and get into production. Like I said, everyone knows you didn’t take that job because you’re passionate about changing lightbulbs or watching frames render. And hey, even as a Production Assistant you get your name in the credits…
Something else to consider: “Who, right there in your home town, might need ‘animation services?’” Any local architect? A marketing company? Every “home town” has such companies, and I’ll bet that if you approach them you’ll find work. (They might even “jerk your arm off!”)
Now, before you approach them, you need to have a business plan. An Architect needs to see visualizations. A marketing company … and, take the time to figure out what sort of “marketing” your chosen target does … needs a different kind of film.
Then, you put on your salesmen’s hat and you make your “pitch.” Be very certain that you have a complete business proposition: “you’re selling Fuller Brushes, and the animations that you’ve prepared are your Salesmen’s Samples.” Be damned sure that you are actually ready to take on the business if they respond by handing you an assignment (“on spec”) and tell you that they need a professional-quality product in a week. Everyone has deadlines, and they’re always looking for professional people who can consistently meet them.
They’ll give you one shot. They’ll hand you a baseball and point to a particular spot on the outfield wall. You’d better be Babe Ruth.
But, if you are, you just might find that you have all the work that you can do … without ever leaving town. You might even find yourself hiring other “locals” to help you. Pixar® will just have to wait.
Personally I think that accepting jobs for no pay or very low pay is better avoided. Instead of that work on your own stuff. The pay for working on your own stuff is the same and you can focus on what you need to learn instead of on what the project requires.
I very definitely agree: “a workman is worthy of his/her hire.”
Now, it’s perfectly fine to accept the most-menial job as a way to “get yourself into the door” of “a door that you otherwise want to get into.” For example, my first college job consisted of tearing pages off of a line-printer (“PC’s” were decades into the future), and shoving them through the appropriate slot. It paid off. (“Those who are faithful with little will be faithful with much.”)
If there’s someone in your area who is doing computer graphics in any way that you might become part of, anything that puts you into their radar-zone is fair game.
“Major Movie Studios” are of course a worthy target, but they are certainly not(!) the only opportunity for “computer graphics.” And it goes without saying that Blender has served as the “great equalizer” in all of this. Now that it has placed “truly-professional-level CG capability” into everyone’s hands, the demand has naturally materialized. “You say you like your home town?” Well, today, you just might be able to “work in the industry” and stay there.
You need to have “A Calling”. An inability to do any thing else. Wide awake at 3 a.m. Wondering where the night went. It’s just that simple.
While the pay may be the same, the experience is not. Doing something in a major studio for low pay will open many opportunites. Staying home and working on your own stuff will not provide the networking nor opportunities.
However, if someone offers you a job outside of a major studio “just for the exposure” then in general, I totally agree that is a scam to get free work out of you. Don’t do anything for “exposure” as the return on investment is usually super low to zero.
How common is it that major studios offer these types of no/low pay jobs?
15 years back when I was an architecture student, major architecture companies exploited students who had to do at least one practical semester to complete their courses. They didn’t pay the students, required them to work absurd times, use the students lap tops for presentations because they were faster than the companies lap tops and a whole bunch of similar bullshit. There were even stories that students had to pay for being allowed to work but I was never able to verify that.
I never wanted to do that and got around it by working as a 3D modeller for decent pay which was accepted by the university as practicals semester.
AFAIK the situation has changed due to new laws and it is better now. There is still bullshit going on but the extreme exploitation of the 2Ks is under control.