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spooked snek @jakeganz
, 23 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
going through 150+ portfolios from last week's @StudioYotta applications. since it's apparently #portfolioday , i figured i'd take some time to write down some advice on my mind for people who want to work in animation. (really long thread within)
first off, there are some great applicants this time around. i remember when there was a time way back where i used to complain about the fact that i could hardly ever accept people from our recruitment callouts. we've come a long way, and i'm equal parts grateful and proud.
usually though, the majority of applicants in our recruitment waves fall short of what we need. yes, we are a very picky studio — but when it comes to our more entry-level roles, we are not looking for God-tier animators. we are looking for skills that every animator should know.
as i think about 'what every animator should know', i'm reminded that there are a few things i had the good fortune to learn about this industry at a really young age. i want to share these things in the hopes that it can maybe help somebody.
this is one of the first things i learned as a kid: with most of it being outsourced, hand-drawn 2D animation work is REALLY rare in the US. i was lucky to be warned of this by animators who were kind enough to tell me, but i feel many people aren't fully aware of this reality.
outsourcing sucks, but it's inevitable. animation is very expensive, and many who fund it do not want to pay full price — and it's not because they're greedy and evil, it's because investment spent needs to make a return that justifies the expense. it's all about the bottom line.
with hand-drawn animation work so scarce in the US, not only do you have to really stand out against your competition right away to get hired, but you also generally have to do it without the option of formal training, as this is a luxury most studios cannot afford these days.
many people understand this dilemma, and go to school to learn. school can be great, and any self-respecting animation program should be able to provide you genuine mastery of the basics. unfortunately, schools need your money, and will often let people pass with major flaws.
i often see one of two massive weaknesses from the majority of applicants, especially recent graduates — either their forms can't stay consistent, or their movements stop/start without easing. i am frustrated that the schools let any animator pass without correcting these issues.
when you create drawings in sequence, you need to mind the distance between them (SPACING). with every new key, you have definitive start and end points, and every inbetween within these needs to follow an arc of motion. you can't have lines or volumes jumping around or outside.
you also need to make sure that you VARY up your spacing to add easing, by making drawings closer together when motion is starting or stopping. both of these things can be tricky with digital sometimes, so never be ashamed to zoom in really far until your lines are placed right.
i believe that these skills define the boundaries of whether or not an audience will see your work and either accept it as believable animation, or simply see a bunch of timed drawings. they're the baseline that we require of all of our animators, and is imperative for clean-up.
above all else, the BIGGEST factor that determines whether i can hire someone is whether or not i can be convinced that they can draw in the styles that WE are likely to be asked to draw in. if i don't believe they can make solid, on-model drawings, i can't take the risk on them.
this does not mean that you have to be the greatest artist in the world. more important than pure drawing ability is self-awareness and self-criticism. to draw on-model is to look at your drawing, look at ref, and ask "what does my drawing lack?", and be able to adjust as needed.
to wrap things up, i've got a quick story to tell:
in general, we at yotta cannot respond to applications if the answer's no. however, the one exception i can remember was when a young animator applied with a pencil test emulating the style of one of our videos. i didn't hire him, but something about his e-mail made me respond.
that 'something' was that he showed a very valiant attempt to draw on-model to one of OUR works — and i could see that he was on the right track, so i gave him a bunch of feedback. i ran into him a year or two later in person and a friend of mine urged me to check his new reel...
to my amazement, he had improved tenfold, and i hired him next chance i got. @IvanA1mighty showed a desire to grow not only as an animator, but a YOTTA animator, and that won me over. since then, he's only gotten better and has firmly established himself as a reliable teammate!
bonus story: at 18, i was really pissed at myself for giving up on my first chance at a professional animation test. i created yotta so that i could get animation practice and reapply — after a year, not only did i get to work on that project, but i had my own business as well :O
the professionals we admire possess finesse that can only come from experience — but on their first big job, they were industry newcomers defined only by the fact that upon applying to their studio, they knew what to show to a recruiter to prove they could get the job done.
what i like about all these international dudes breaking into anime is that i KNOW every single one of them spent hours on sakugabooru trying to figure out what their heroes were doing right. you have to understand that you are capable of solving that mystery just as they have.
in closing: look to the pros you admire and try to understand what works about what they do. learn to recognize in your own work when something feels janky and try to fix it. and above all else, know that becoming hire-able is just a matter of focus, decision making and practice.
finally, thanks to everyone who applied this time around. to receive 150 applications in a few days is fucking incredible, and it means the world to me that this many people care about my company enough to want to be part of it. will be sending out responses later this week. <3
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