As a recent Graduate, I have often thought of what I could have done better/ differently with my 3 years. I don’t regret anything and miss my uni days, but I know what advice I would have liked to hear as a lowly 1st year!
So here is my advice to each discipline…
Stop-Motion - when you first enter the industry, no matter what you do or who you are, Prop Making will always be a task to do. With everything having to be created and with the expectation of rich environments, prop makers are the entry into the industry. You will probably be freelance and bounce from job to job, but that will be much like your SM peers.
Whilst at uni, I would recommend prop making. Making and testing out things is easy to do, fun to do and very easy to show off on twitter and other media platforms. If you start this early you can build up an impressive portfolio but also the skills to impress!
Image of trumpet from The Box Trolls by Laika
Maya/3D - the industry is a very interesting one depending where you are based. In a smaller studio a generalist is a good thing. Someone who can do it all to a good level means less people needed to be employed.
Then there are the larger studios. They thrive for the best, but don’t be put down by this. You aren’t expected to be the best yet, they do train you. The only thing you simply must think about is where you fit in their productions. If they have no need for animators, then you are out of luck! Whilst on animation in larger studios… Animation is the final product and must be of a great standard. Large studios will only hire experienced or stunning animators. Animation is quite a luxurious job, like an actor, but there are many other roles that need to be filled. I personally am now a rigger as it is a needed role, but don’t get me wrong I love animating, but rigging is a testing and rewarding career!
My advice to students. Look at what jobs studios offer, and which one you would want to do. Then do it! Practice and make an impressive reel. Then apply for the job or a runner job. These runner jobs can often be the pathway to a junior role!
A production image from MPC’s - Elephunk - showing skeleton and muscle rig.
2D - the highlight of early animation is now the trickiest market to be in. You are the eternal freelancer and you need to be constantly up for sale. You need to show you are working to impress clients so keep working on tests and reels. It’s a tricky old world but 2D is still beautiful!
My advice… Get a portfolio online! A blog or web page will do perfectly! Do life drawing constantly and draw or animate often. Get this online and begin to build these networks constantly as you web of contacts will be your lead to your next job!
The Amazing World of Gumball - Cartoon Network - being partly produced in the UK
I hope this has helped! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me! Just put Student in the subject somewhere.
Another recommendation from me is to go to February’s BFI Future Film Festival. Every time I go I meet new people and make good friends! This year is on a Friday so you can spend the weekend in London!
Have fun and get working! Freshers is over! :’(