Business Report

Did you know, animation is not just about drawing stuff? WHAAAATT? You’re lampooning me! NO WAY!

YES way! One major part of our animation course during third year has been business. It is led by Gerald who is a magical wise man, and he teaches us all we need to know about the business side of the industry. Which is super helpful, because my knowledge in this area is not good! But now it is better!

Recently we had to create a business report, in which we research companies we want to work for, and analyse our strengths and weaknesses. I found this very helpful, because it made me feel like I have a better plan for what I’m going to be doing after I leave uni, and it gave me a better idea of what’s out there and the different paths I could take. Here is the report below; it’s quite long, so come back with coffee or tea or any warm beverage. Personally I like hot lemon and honey, because I can pretend that it’s healing me in some way, which it’s probably not.

 

Part 1: What Jobs Could I Do?

To start my research for this report I looked into the creative skillset website to learn about how to get into the animations industry, as well as skills I may need to acquire in order to achieve this. I watched videos on the “ways into the industry” page, and they were very helpful in giving me an idea about what I may need to do. The people being interviewed came from many different animation companies, and they all suggested taking jobs as a runner or apprentice to get started in the industry. They also stressed the importance of having a good showreel and portfolio, as well as gaining contacts through animation or other creative events.

In terms of what skills employers are looking for, mostly the focus was on software and knowledge. It was suggested that you research the company you’re applying for to find out what software they use, and familiarise yourself with it. Furthermore you should have a good idea of what area of animation you want to go into, and focus on these skills to make sure they are a high quality for when you apply, as it’s impossible to learn everything, and you will pick up other areas of knowledge as you go along. They also want to see that you can work well in a team, as often the hours can be long and stressful, and employers won’t want to hire someone who will be a detriment to the team.

The advice given about showreels and CVs was also very useful. They employers suggested keeping your showreel short and exciting, with only your best work on it. Any work that isn’t as good as the rest will stand out, and it will suggest you aren’t consistent. Furthermore if the showreel is too long, employers won’t watch all of it, so it’s important to keep your best work near the beginning. In terms of CVs, some employers don’t even look at them, however others suggest keeping these at no more than two pages, with your relevant experience at the top. They also advise making the CV visual, to show that you are a creative person.

Next, I moved on to looking into the different job roles in the animation industry. The two I am most interested in are: 2D digital animator, and 2D drawn animator. Both of these jobs require you to animate everything within a scene. This could also include camera moves and lip sync. The job requirements are as follows:

  • have animation and acting skills, combined with a good sense of graphic design
  • have a good level of computer literacy
  • have a good working knowledge of relevant graphics, animation and compositing software, including Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects Flash and/or Cel Action
  • have a good understanding of the principles of animation and filmmaking
  • have knowledge of drawing and structure
  • be self-motivated
  • be able to take direction and willing to address constructive feedback
  • be able to communicate clearly with colleagues
  • be able to manage relevant aspects of production
  • have the capacity to work both independently and as part of a team
  • have an appreciation of accuracy and pay close attention to detail
  • be able to deliver on schedule, working calmly and efficiently under pressure, if required
  • have respect for the procedures and requirements of a particular studio or production
  • have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

(http://creativeskillset.org/creative_industries/animation/job_roles/353_animator_2d_computer_animation)

I aim to improve in the areas of drawing and animation itself by creating a showreel for my major project, in which I will animate a variety of different characters in different styles and software. In particular, I will be using TVPaint Animation, CelAction, and Adobe Flash (Animate) for producing the animation, and Adobe After Effects to composite everything together and add effects. I will also use Adobe Photoshop to create artwork and backgrounds. This will allow me to gain more experience with the different software, giving me a wider base knowledge. I will also attend regular life drawing classes at 10 Feet Tall, which will help me to improve my drawing skills.

When I finish the course I aim to continue working on my own projects whilst I look for a job. This will allow me to continue building on my animation skills, as well as keep me motivated. I have also found websites such as “Upwork” and “99 Designs,” in which people post design jobs for freelancers. I will have a go at any character design and illustration-based jobs that are posted whilst I look for work; if I am successful this will gain me an income as well as experience.

 

Part 2: Research into Animation Companies

 

Cartoon Saloon

Cartoon Saloon is a 2D animation company based in Kilkenny, Ireland. They are responsible for creating films such as “Song of the Sea” and “The Secret of Kells,” as well as short films and TV series including “Puffin Rock” and “Skunk-Fu.” Their core values focus of artistic skills and strong storytelling.

Lead by Co-Founders Tomm Moore, Paul Young, and Nora Twomey, Cartoon Saloon has been very successful, and have received BAFTA, Academy Award and Oscar nominations. They are currently working on their next feature film, “Wolf Walkers.”

Software used at the studio to create the animation itself includes TVPaint and Adobe Flash (Animate), as well as traditional paper animation. On the company website you can submit your details to apply for work directly. The form includes personal and contact details, then a series of tick boxes; which position you are interested in, including an option for an internship or work experience, which programmes you have experience with, including Photoshop, After Effects, Anime Studio Pro, TVPaint, Flash, and Toon Boom. It then asks where you are based, as well as if you are willing to relocate to Kilkenny. Finally, there is a space for you to include a cover letter and a link to your showreel.

It’s exciting that Cartoon Saloon offers work experience and internship positions; I would likely apply for these first, and if I was fortunate enough to get a place I could learn what skills to work on in order to apply for a paid job in the future, as well as gain some useful contacts. I am fairly confident in using TVPaint, Photoshop, and traditional animation, and I have basic experience with After Effects and Adobe Flash, both of which I will aim to practice with more this year. However, I have never used Toon Boom or Anime Studio Pro, so it will be helpful if I can gain a basic understanding of these programmes. I will continue to work on my 2D animation skills to make them as strong as possible for my showreel.

Cartoon Saloon have social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Their Twitter account is the most active; they post almost daily updates and news, whereas their Facebook and Instagram accounts are less active. I will make an effort to check in with their Twitter account at least every week so I’m up to date with what the company are doing.

Cartoon Saloon is the furthest away geographically from where I’m based in Cardiff out of the non-international companies I’ve chosen to look into. Trains are available via Dublin Port, meaning the journey lasts 12-14 hours, and, if booked in advance, costs £55-£60. Coaches are also available; journeys can be booked on the National Express website, and cost £45 in advance. Finally, if booked ahead, flights to Dublin can be as cheap as £20. Furthermore, if I were to be offered a work experience or job opportunity at Cartoon Saloon I would need somewhere to stay; if it was for a short stay I would need to book a hotel or hostel, if it was for a long term position would need to look into affordable housing options. With this in mind, I will need to make sure I put money aside before looking into opportunities here, as I may not be able to afford to travel there with short notice otherwise. It may also be wise to begin taking driving lessons, so that in the future travel to further away places will be easier and cheaper at short notice.

Contact Info:

Cartoon Saloon, The Maltings, Tilbury Place, James’ Place, Kilkenny, Ireland.

Phone: +353 567 764 481

Email: info@cartoonsaloon.ie

Website: http://www.cartoonsaloon.ie/

Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

 

A Productions

A Productions is a 2D/CG animation company based in Bristol. Primarily they create animations for children, however they still manage to have a diverse range of different styles in all of their projects. Their core aims are to create exciting and original content for their clients, at a high quality as well as with a good budget. They are responsible for works such as ‘Frankenstein’s Cat’ and ‘BB3B,’ however they also have a range of corporate and design work.

The A Productions website has a page dedicated to information about jobs and studio information; it states that you can send CVs and examples of work over to them via email for them to look at. They prefer to have people in the studio rather than work from home, and the top quality they look for when hiring someone is good drawing skills. They are keen to see life drawing portfolios, and use After Effects and Adobe Flash for their 2D work. They also offer work experience and internships where they can, however they state that this is not always possible due to limited space. To apply for work experience they ask you to send a letter or email about yourself, along with examples of work if you have them available. For internships, they are slightly more specific, as they look for people with relevant skills and interests, to try and find them a place on the current production.

Similarly to Cartoon Saloon, I would likely approach A Productions for work experience or an internship, which would allow me to meet people at the company and learn what skills I need to work on in order to apply for a paid position. The “Contact Us” page on the website makes it very easy to get in touch with the company, as well as send them work digitally. Although I attend life drawing classes regularly at the university campus, I would like to start attending classes at places such as “10 feet tall” in Cardiff centre again to make my portfolio stronger. Similarly, I would like to work on my basic knowledge of Adobe Flash and After Effects this year in order to show I can use the software used at the company competently. I have chosen to make a showreel rather than a film for my final major project for this reason; to allow me to practice using different software as well as improve my animation skills, and to give me an interesting showreel to send to companies.

A Productions are active on Twitter, posting multiple times a week. They often post news about projects they are working on, as well as short clips and videos. Their Facebook page is less active; they tend to post monthly. I aim to check in with their Twitter page weekly, for possible job or work experience opportunities, as well as news about their projects. I tend to be most active on my Instagram account, so I aim to create a weekly plan for me to check in with my other social media accounts to build my online presence and to stay informed of what’s going on with the companies.

A Productions is located in Bristol, and is a 12 minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads train station. It can cost as little as £5.60 for a train from Cardiff Central to Bristol Temple Meads, which means it will be possible to travel there at short notice affordably. Furthermore, the journey lasts 50-60 minutes, meaning it would be possible to travel to Bristol and back in the same day, so I would save money on accommodation. It would be preferable getting the train rather than driving, as I would need to pay for tolls, which is the same price as a train ticket, as well as fuel. If I were to be offered a long-term position at A Productions, there would be less pressure to find housing in Bristol immediately, as the commute from Cardiff would be affordable, and I would still be able to arrive on time.

Contact Info:

A Productions Ltd, 52 Old Market Street, Bristol, BS2 0ER

Phone: 0117 929 9005

Website: http://aproductions.co.uk/

Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Vimeo

 

House Special

House Special is an animation company based in Portland, Oregon that specialises in all forms of animation. They have been partners with Laika studios since 2003, and have produced the credits sequences for two of their films; “Paranoman” and “The Boxtrolls.” As well as this they have created a variety of short animated films and commercial work. Their work ranges greatly in terms of style, meaning there is a great opportunity to try new things. The website specifies that the House Special team are a mixture of young talent and experienced professionals, and are always happy to employ people from around the globe. They value a hands-on work approach, as well as a belief that it’s important to work hard, but in a balanced way.

As my knowledge lies in the realms of 2D, I would be looking to apply to this company from this perspective, although the fact that they specialise in CG and stop-motion as well is exciting, as it could open up possibilities to try a different medium in the future. It’s exciting to know that they are willing to hire internationally, as it makes any future plans for applying here more reassuring. The website displays photographs of the previous year’s interns, meaning it may also be possible to inquire about this; the website doesn’t state where you can apply for an internship, so emailing them to ask about this might be worthwhile.

On the careers page there is an application form where you can apply to a specific job or any future opportunities. Aside from personal details, you must pick from a drop-down list your area of professional focus, as well as fill in a personal statement. The website doesn’t give any information about materials or software used to create their animations, so it could be useful to ask this in an email, as well as cover all grounds for software by making sure I have a basic understanding of the main packages. However, I researched the company’s work a little further and managed to find out that they have used traditional paper animation, Toon Boom, Flash, and After Effects in the past, so it will definitely be useful to continue building upon my knowledge in these packages.

The main obstacle to tackle to apply to House Special will be travel. The cheapest flights to Portland cost £543; the route starts in Bristol, then changes in Amsterdam before landing in Portland, taking 16 hours in total, including the stop in Amsterdam. You can catch a train from the station at the airport, costing $2.50, which takes you within a 10 minute walking distance to House Special.

I would also have to find accommodation in the area, both for a short period if I were offered work experience or an internship, and for long term if I were offered a paid job, as commuting would obviously be impossible. To try and apply here I think it would be sensible to first get a job based in the UK, which would allow me to save up the money I would need for the travel and accommodation. I would still like to try and apply here in the future, however, as it would be exciting to visit a different country and gain experience in an exciting workplace.

House Special are active on both their Twitter and Instagram accounts, and share everything posted on Instagram via Facebook. This is great because it means I can easily stay up to date with projects they’re working on, as well as news about the company. Furthermore, they have a LinkedIn account, meaning I can easily learn about any job opportunities. Instagram is my primary choice of social media, however I will be sure to check their twitter and LinkedIn accounts weekly.

Contact:

Email: hello@housespecial.com

Phone: 503.225.1130

Address: 420 NE 9th Ave. Portland, OR, 97232

Social Media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn

Website: http://www.housespecial.com/

 

Framestore

Framestore is a VFX company based in London, with branches also in New York, Los Angeles, Montreal and Chicago. They work on advertisements as well as large-scale films, such as “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” They largely deal with 3D animation, VFX and compositing, as well as concept art and motion design. Framestore is a “self-confessed creature house,” meaning they create a lot of animals and creatures in their work. The company values exploring the boundaries of technology, as well as detailed storytelling and design. As the distribution of the company bases shows, Framestore offer jobs to a wide range of people internationally as well as locally.

On the website’s careers page, the different job roles that are currently open for application are displayed. If you click on the job title, you are redirected to a detailed description of what the job requirements are. Most of the jobs require at least a year of paid experience, however there are also a few junior roles available.

Seeing as how my skills are mainly in the area of 2D animation, I would most likely apply here for a concept design role. This requires a strong 2D drawing skill, and a solid understanding of anatomy, creature/character design, composition, colour theory, perspective, and lighting. You must also be able to draw a wide variety of things including characters, interior and exterior environments and props, vehicles, and effects. They ask for a hard-working ethic and good communication skills, and a basic knowledge of 3D programmes such as ZBrush, Keyshot, Modo, or Maya are desirable but not essential. Work experience or internships are not mentioned on the website, so it could be useful to email Framestore and ask if this is an option.

To apply for this job in the future, I will need to continue working on my drawing skills; although I enjoy drawing and do so regularly, I would still like to improve, particularly in the areas of animal and creature design. Furthermore, I have no knowledge or experience in any of the 3D programmes, so this is something I will need to do. The computers in our university base room have recently had a variety of 3D programmes installed on them, and there are multiple YouTube tutorials showing how to use them. It will definitely help me if I can gain a basic understanding of at least one of these programmes in the time I have left at university. Although a job at Framestore wouldn’t necessarily be an obvious choice, I think it would still be really interesting to try something new, and it would be incredibly valuable to widen my skill base.

Framestore is based in Soho, London, so it would be quite accessible to travel to. If booked in advance, the train to London can be as little as £15. I would then need to take a tube via the Bakerloo line, and to get off at Oxford Circus station to get to Framestore in just under 20 minutes. Alternatively, a coach to London costs only £5, and would get me there in just under 4 hours. I would then catch the tube from Victoria station to Oxford Circus, which would take about 20 minutes. Again, if I could drive, the journey would take just under 3 hours by car. The journey is affordable by these methods, particularly with a bit of notice, however it’s not realistic to say that I could make this commute every day, more because of how long it would take. This means I would have to pay for accommodation, however because the journey isn’t too expensive, this may be feasible if I found the right place. If I were offered a short-term position such as work experience at Framestore I would likely find accommodation for the week, and travel back to Cardiff at weekends. However, if I were offered a long term position I would try to find housing in or just outside London. It would still be wise to save some money before applying here to ensure I could pay for accommodation if I were offered work.

Framestore have social media accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They are most active on their Facebook and Twitter pages, and they post regularly about the work they’ve done, including images and short clips which are really interesting! Also, on Twitter they have a separate account specifically called “Framestore Recruitment,” which is great because they post jobs and student opportunities on this account. I will make sure to check in regularly with their twitter accounts especially.

Contact:

Email: recruiters@framestore.com

Phone: 02073448000

Address: 19-23 Wells Street, London, W1T2PQ

Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn

Website: https://www.framestore.com/

 

Tonko House

Tonko House is a 2D animation studio based in Berkeley, California. They created the short films “The Dam Keeper” and “Moon,” and are currently working on a TV series and feature film based on “The Dam Keeper.” Tonko House look for employees who will help tell meaningful and inspiring stories, and who help each other to grow. The website includes a page for careers, and contains job descriptions and required skills for all available positions.

The job requirements for a 2D animator indicate that you must be able to animate on model, and to remodel work based on critiques as well as self-manage your time. Furthermore you are expected to assist with visual design. In terms of software/ hardware, you must be familiar with a cintiq or tablet, and have experience with TVPaint Animation. Experience with storyboarding and filmmaking is a plus. However, in terms of qualifications you are required to have 2 years’ experience in an animated production to apply. Lastly you must attach a demo reel, portfolio work, a CV and a half-page biography. Although I have experience in 2D animation through the animation course, as well as a fair understanding and knowledge of TV paint and use of a tablet/cintiq, I don’t have 2 years’ experience. To apply for a paid position at Tonko House I will have had to be working in the industry for a fair amount of time. However, I could try contacting the studio to inquire about internships, work experience or junior positions.

Tonko House is located in Berkeley, California. However, I was unable to find the exact address of the studio, so I’m unsure whereabouts it is in the area. I was able to find flights to San Francisco, California for £252, if booked in advance. I would then need to catch a few trains and trams to get to Berkeley, taking me about an hour and fifteen minutes. If I had paid work here I would also need to acquire a visa. Similarly to the studio in Portland, I would need to save for a while before applying here, possibly after finding paid work in the UK first so that I would be more financially stable. However, it would still be exciting to apply here in the future.

Tonko House have active accounts on Facebook and Instagram, on which they frequently post videos and images of their works in progress at the studio. However, they don’t have accounts on Twitter or LinkedIn, meaning it is slightly harder to hear about job advertisements and news. One of the founders of the company, Dice Tsutsumi, has an active Twitter account, and although he doesn’t post news about careers it is still interesting following his work.

Contact:

Email: info@tonkohouse.com

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram

Website: http://www.tonkohouse.com/

 

Part Three: SWOT Analysis

 

After looking at the skillset website as well as analysing the job requirements of various animation companies, I have compiled a list of the skills and requirements that are mentioned the most. I have then graded myself from one to five in each of these areas. This will allow me to easily see which skills I need to improve in order to give myself the skills I need to get a job in the animation industry:

Animation Skills:

2D Traditional (paper) animation: 8/10. I have a lot of experience working traditionally as we used this technique throughout the entirety of first year, and I also completed my second year film in this way. I have animated a variety of things in this medium, however I feel there is always more to learn at this stage.

2D Digital animation: 8/10. I have experience in animating digitally in a variety of different software which gives me a good range. I feel more confident using TVPaint and Flash as I have most experience in these; I feel happy animating in CelAction however I feel I need to refresh my memory on this software, and I have only used After Effects for one project so there’s still a lot to learn there. However I feel I could confidently animate in these programmes given time to learn.

Understanding of animation principles: 7/10. I would definitely say I understand the basic principles of animation mostly through animating itself and learning from mistakes. I have also read books such as “The Animator’s Survival Kit” and “drawn to Life,” and I am currently reading “The Illusion of Life” as well as other books on animation, which again has expanded my knowledge. On top of this I have learnt a lot from my lecturers through lectures on animation in my first and second year as well as critiques which really help to build my skills. Again, at this stage I would say there is always more to learn so I wouldn’t feel happy giving myself anything higher at this point.

Base Drawing skills: 8/10. As well as drawing I do for my university projects I also try and draw every day for fun as well as to help build my skills. Throughout my time at university the range of things I can draw had widened considerably. I would say my main strength is drawing people, but I love to draw my surroundings and try new things. However there is still more to learn, but I feel I could draw what was needed of me even if I needed to give it a few tries at this stage.

Life Drawing: 7/10. My life drawing has improved considerable after attending a lot of classes in second year as well as learning to loosen up with my drawings through critiques from lecturers and advice in books. Recently however I haven’t attended as many life drawing classes as I was so I sometimes feel a bit rusty in this area. I will try and change this by attending more classes as well as using online resources if this isn’t possible for any reason.

Anatomy: 4/10. I have a basic understanding of anatomy; I learnt a lot in first year from really breaking down how things move, however recently I feel like I’ve forgotten a lot of what I learnt and I need to refresh my memory. Furthermore there is still so much to learn in the area of anatomy; I am currently reading “Anatomy for the Artist” which I feel is helping me, but this is definitely an area for improvement.

Character Design: 7/10. I really enjoy character design and I find it fairly easy to design characters either from reference or from imagination. My strongest area is definitely humans/ humanesque characters, I can create these in many different styles quite confidently. However I need to improve in the areas of animals and creatures; I can design them but I would definitely need reference as well as a few more attempts than I would with a human character. I will work on this by drawing more animals!

Concept- Environments: 6/10. Again I enjoy designing and drawing environments but it’s something I’ve only recently started to get into properly. I enjoy drawing them but it takes me a while and I struggle to create an environment without a descent amount of reference. At times aspects of the drawing such as perspective can be off too. I will improve this simply by drawing more environments and environmental features, as well as researching more on perspective.

Concept- Creatures: 5/10. Although I enjoy designing characters I haven’t got much experience with designing creatures. I’ve designed some creatures from my current university project to try and open me up to this area a bit more, however I still feel relatively new to it. I will improve this by looking at creature concept designs and making an effort to design more of my own.

Storyboarding: 7/10. I have quite a bit of experience with storyboarding both from my time at college and university. I am able to create a storyboard from details from a script using different camera angles and moves as well as the relevant filmmaking language. I’d like to build on my design for storyboarding; my drawings tend to be quite messy so it would be useful to tighten them up a bit.

 

Software Skills:

Adobe Photoshop: 8/10. I am able to complete most art-based tasks in this software, such as digital painting and manipulating traditional artwork. I feel confident that I would be able to complete relevant tasks in this software. There are still a few areas of the software I haven’t used but these are mostly to do with photo manipulation, so they will likely be quite irrelevant for animation, but it’s always worth trying out.

Adobe Flash: 7/10. I am able to create frame-by-frame or pose-to-pose animation in this software, using drawn animation or shapes. I also have knowledge and experience in Actionscript. I am fairly confident I’d be able to animate what was given to me in this software, however there are a few features I’d like to try out to broaden my knowledge.

Adobe After Effects: 5/10. I am able to create motion graphics and pose-to-pose animations using this software. I have some experience using effects such as particles, however more experience is needed in this area as well as vast amount of other features in this software. Many tutorials are available online, so I will utilise these to build up my skills.

TVPaint Animation: 7/10. I am able to create different styles of 2D animation using this software. I have a basic knowledge of using colour and texture, however I am aware of features that make this process even easier, so looking into these will make my process even more efficient.

CelAction: 6/10. Able to animate a rigged character, and I have knowledge and experience in rigging a basic character with replacement shapes. Refreshing my knowledge of this software would be useful as I haven’t used it in a while, I am also aware of techniques and features that will make my work process more efficient and effective from my work experience and ClothCat. However, tutorials for this software are not available online, so I may have to try and experiment and teach myself.

Toon Boom: 0/10. I have no experience in this software. We have recently had this programme installed on our computers at university, so I will try and have a go at animating something in it just to make me aware of the basics. Tutorials for this software are available online, which will help me learn this software more easily.

 

Other Skills:

Team working: 9/10. I have a lot of experience in working in a team, through collaborative projects with course mates in animation and game design as well as experience in projects outside of university. I also learnt a lot from my time working as an assistant chef in a local pub back at home; this also helped me with working under pressure which I find very useful. I enjoy working in a team as I feel more compelled to keep to deadlines and keep people undated with my work progress.

Independent Work: 9/10. I also have a lot of experience working independently, through my time at university as well as experience working on personal projects. I am able to keep myself motivated and my scheduling has improved considerable through my experiences and mistakes I made in second year. I enjoy working independently as I am able to just get on and work, however I still ensure to ask from feedback from course mates and lecturers to allow me to improve my work and view it from a different perspective.

Communication: 6/10. I am able to communicate ideas clearly to others as well as give constructive feedback. I am also very happy to take direction and to take on board what is said to me in critiques. Where I struggle however is I can be shy at times, which could hinder me in a new workplace. I have been trying to work on this since college and I feel I have come a long way; I feel a lot less anxious introducing myself to people and asking for help if I need it. I aim to build on this more by attending more networking events and really trying to push myself to talk to people. I recently went to the RTS futures fair in London where I spoke to a lot of interesting and informative people, so I feel like this is a good step in the right direction.

Scheduling: 8/10. From my experiences with a very unrealistic schedule in second year I feel that my scheduling has improved considerably. I am able to gauge how long different tasks will take me fairly accurately, and I make sure I give myself time each day to take short breaks to keep me motivated. My schedule for this year has been very successful so far, so I am confident that I will continue to learn as I go along in this area.

 

SWOT analysis:

Strengths:

-Strong understanding of 2D animation as well as drawing and design.

-Passion for the subject keeps me motivated and enthusiastic to learn more.

-Basic to confident knowledge of most relevant animation software.

-Able to work as part of a team as well as independently.

-Self-motivated, able to work well to a schedule and under pressure.

-Willing to build on my skills and to learn and improve.

-Work experience at ClothCat animation and teaching Flash for the BFI.

 

Weaknesses:

-Need a better understanding of anatomy to help with animation.

-More experience in After Effects, CelAction and Toon Boom would be needed.

-More experience in elements of creature and environment design needed, particularly for jobs in concept.

-Communication could be better in terms of being more outspoken and confident to talk to new people. If I don’t work on this it could hinder me in terms of making contacts.

 

Opportunities:

-Internship opportunity at Nickolodeon in the summer; learnt about this through the RTS futures fair. -Deadline in late February, based in Camden.

-CelAction project beginning in April at Mackinnon & Saunders. Learnt about this through meeting Ian Mackinnon at RTS futures fair.

-Internships or work experience opportunities available at most of the companies researched so far.

-Courses available to learn software for VFX, which would broaden my skillset. Learnt about these at RTS futures fair.

-Networking event at the end of year show in May. Opportunity to meet people from industry and gain contacts.

-University facilities and library available, allowing me to work on my skills and learn more about my subject area.

 

Threats:

-Not having enough money to travel to different places for work. This can be remedied by me picking up on my part-time job as soon as I leave university, as well as being careful with money in the meantime and saving as much as possible.

-Not having a place to live when University ends. I want to avoid moving back home as it is a small town with almost no creative opportunities. I will try and avoid this by discussing housing options with my course mates who want to stay in Cardiff or surrounding areas, as it is a much more creative and accessible area to live.

-Becoming demotivated from rejections to jobs. Although I am quite an optimistic person it could still be tough going through a lot of job rejections, which is why I would prefer to stay living in Cardiff and amongst other creative people to keep me motivated; I want to avoid feeling demotivated as much as possible and this will definitely help.

 

Part Four: Social Media Plan

Social media is definitely something I need to keep on top of in order to keep me informed of available job positions, as well as allow me to contact various people in the animation industry with ease. It will also help me to build a stronger presence with my work, and let people see how I work.

Currently the social media platform I use the most is Instagram. I find it easy to use this as a creative person as it mainly relies on imagery, and it’s very easy to share your work with others. Recently I have been making an effort to post my work daily, as it will show people that I’m always creating things and keeping up with my work. It also motivates me to draw daily for fun! I will keep up posting daily on Instagram as it seems to be working well.

I also have an account with Twitter. I am not as familiar with Twitter, and I find it less appealing purely because it’s harder to share images, and the word limit can be restricting. However I have found it very useful linking this account with my Instagram account; this means whenever I post on Instagram the same information appears on my Twitter account, meaning I am posting daily. I find Twitter useful for following people and companies within the industry and it makes it very easy to contact them. I try to retweet a post from one of these companies daily to show that I’m up to date and interested in the subject. I also ensure to tweet short updates about my work or about other creative interests I have to give people an idea about what I’m actually like as a person. I’m going to try and keep up with a daily post/ interaction on twitter, and I will definitely be using it to build up my contacts.

Next, I have an art page on Facebook. I chose to have a separate page for my art so that I could keep it professional and relevant. I haven’t been very good at updating this page, however. I aim to change this by posting to it twice weekly. I often share interesting art and animation articles to this page, which I will continue to do. However I will also start sharing my blog update to this page every week, which will allow more people to access my blog and find out about my work process. I will also do a weekly post showing my fun drawings for the week, which again will keep me motivated to keep drawing. This means I will have two posts as well as the shared links to articles per week, meaning my page will be a lot more interesting and relevant.

I have a blog on WordPress (here it is!) which shows my processes for creating my university projects. However, I have been neglecting it a lot lately and I’d really like to start doing a weekly update. This again will keep people up to date with what I’m doing and show that I’m actively working on my project. It will also give me extra motivation to keep working to my schedule. I will upload my work, including videos and screenshots, every Monday, and share the link to my blog on Twitter and Facebook.

I also have accounts on LinkedIn, Youtube and Vimeo. I tend to update these where it’s relevant, for example at the end of a project I will upload my animations to Vimeo and YouTube, and where I gain new skills or experience I will update my LinkedIn page. However I will try and check my LinkedIn account more regularly, as this is a good source for finding jobs.

 

Part Five: Summary

In summary, this business report has helped me out greatly in a number of ways. Firstly, it has helped me to understand what skills are required in order to get a job in the animation industry, as well as how to build upon these. I have learnt that I have a good skillset upon which I can build to give me a better chance of getting a job, and that there are actually a lot of great opportunities out there. Also I am excited to have learnt that my skillset can be broadened into other areas such as concept and VFX, as it would be really amazing to try out other areas of animation in the future. I have also highlighted my weaknesses, which is great because now I know what I need to do to fix them and build upon them.

Next I learnt a lot about all the different kinds of companies that are out there, and what I might need to do to get there. There are a lot of great companies around the world that I’d love to work for some day, and it’s nice to know now that it isn’t impossible to get there. I also know there are a great deal of companies close to home that are incredible accessible, and that work experience and internships are offered at most of these places which could be a great way into the industry.

I also learnt about how valuable social media can be to promote your work and to keep up to date with the industry. I have perhaps neglected this area in the past, so it’s exciting to now have a plan of how to turn this around and make use of the social media that’s out there. It will also help me to stay creative and to keep doing art in my own time.

Finally I made a plan of who I’m going to contact when I leave university to look for work. As well as being really reassuring, this is incredibly helpful, as I can now say exactly what I’m going to be doing and when, and I can make sure I’m prepared to apply for these jobs or at least gain some great contacts. I’m now a lot more excited to leave university as I have a better idea of what I have to do to try and get into the industry.

 

 

Google Doodle – Weeks 1-2

It’s third year time, come on and grab your friends, we’re going to very distant lands! We just got given our first brief! For our first project, we’ve got to design and create an interactive Google Doodle!! I’ve never done anything like this before, but it’s been really exciting so far.

I started by doing a bit of research into other doodles, to get an idea of the style, and possibly some ideas about interactivity. doctor_who_google_doodle_close_up__new_version_11__by_hugolynch-d61blf9

I really liked this one, just because it was quite simple, and also it’s Doctor Who, and I kind of love Doctor Who. Which got me thinking that, firstly, I wanted to watch Doctor Who when I got home (Tennant episodes, obviously), and that it might be a good idea to make a pop culture Doodle! Now, my mind turned instantly to something I think pretty much everyone is obsessed with right now; Stranger Things. I love that show. Who doesn’t love that show?! It rolls up many of my favourite things, including sci-fi, 80’s movies, and Stephen King, all into one magical ball. I did a quick mock-up of what I might like the doodle to look like;

stranger-things

I liked the imagery, but I was feeling like it wasn’t feeling 80’s enough. So I got into looking into how the posters for the show were made to look like 80s movies posters. I discovered they were created by an artist called Kyle Lambert, and he created the look by using textured brushes in Photoshop to create a hand-painted look. He also researched artists such as Drew Struzan, who is responsible for creating classic movie posters for films such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Back to the Future.

stranger4

(Kyle Lambert)

back_to_future2univ

(Drew Struzan)

I realised that getting the look of an 80’s movie poster meant using the correct colour palette, and creating the right texture. I had a go at making my own poster in a cartoonish style. I used Photoshop, and got this look by using noise filters, texture overlays, and different blending modes. This website also helped me to create an amazing colour palette;

http://www.pictaculous.com/

Here’s my finished poster;

eleven-poster-test

It was really fun making this, and now I’m really determined to get this look into my doodle. I think I’ll have to do this by creating the artwork in Photoshop, and importing it into Flash as a symbol.

I had a lot of learning to do for this project. I have only ever used Flash for my E4 sting project, in which I only used a frame-by-frame traditional technique. I’ve never had any experience with using symbols, tweening, actionscript, or any of the other features of Flash. So I took to YouTube, and spent a good few days watching tonnes of video tutorials on things like how to create movie clips and buttons, creating effects like glow and blur, tweening, the bone tool, and quite a few other things!! I found DrawWithJazza to be the most helpful, I think I watched his entire playlist of Flash tutorials! I also tried some basic actionscript; it took me a little while to really get my head around it, but after I understood it I was able to use it for quite a few different things.

I then took what I’d learned and did some extensive testing! I found using ActionScript to be the best way to complete most of the interactivity; I tried using buttons to begin with, but I found them to be a little restricting. I think my favourite test so far was this one, in which you hover the mouse over Eleven, and she moves into her action pose, and at the same time Mike flies up from behind the waffle. They loop there until you take the mouse away, Eleven wipes her nose, and she returns to static, in a blink cycle! It took a while to get it right but it was really rewarding seeing it work in the end!

eleven

We have just under a week left now, so my plan for this week is to create the finished artwork in Photoshop, then animate and ActionScript everything!! Hopefully it shouldn’t be too bad, it takes surprisingly little time to code stuff thanks to the code snippets that you can use in Flash! The only thing that could take a while is if I decide to animate Eleven’s sequence in Photoshop and import it into Flash…out of all the letters, hers is the only one that is traditionally animated frame by frame, but I still want her to be finished in the same way as all the other letters, which will all be done in Photoshop. I’m definitely going to attempt to animate her in Photoshop, because I’m reeeeeally excited to see her animated and finished in that 80s style I managed to create in the poster. FINGERS CROSSED!!! Lets hope it works!

I finished things!

It’s been a crazy busy year this year. I knew second year would be hard, but jeez, it was REALLY hard! Never have I had so many naps as I did after I finished our major project. But alas, I am not complaining, I learnt SO much this year; new techniques, a lot about animation, realistic scheduling, and strangely a lot about how much I can handle (which is a lot more than I thought, I feel like a pack mule with all the non-uni related things I’ve been carrying this year!) But the year is over now, time to put down a lot of those packs and move on, start new projects, try new things, and enjoy having a little bit more free time.

Seeing as how my brain has been dealing with a lot of strange matters, its been pretty cluttered, and unfortunately I have neglected my poor blog. But I’m going to resolve this matter by making sure I do a weekly post. So I’m going to start with a tonne of vimeo links to the work I finished this year!

Firstly, I finished the character redesign project using CelAction. It was really fun, and very different from anything I’ve ever done before. Being a 2D animator, I really enjoyed not having to worry about things like the character changing shape or proportion, and allowing myself to push the animation. Over the holiday I’d definitely like to do more in this software! Here’s the link to the finished piece;

Next is the finished piece from our E4 sting project. I think this was my favourite project, because I loved thinking of a weird idea and using Flash and a Cintiq for the first time was amazing! Cintiqs are definitely my new best friend now. I’d love to do more little 10 second pieces over the summer, it allows you to push yourself with a crazy idea and not have to spend a crazy amount of time on it, which means you can make loads of different ones! Here’s the link to the sting;

FINALLY, was our major project, in which we had to create a 90 second film. I really enjoyed animating traditionally and pushing myself in terms of some of the shots I (foolishly) picked to make myself animate. (Two full body people walking away from the camera? Needless to say that shot got CUT!) But luckily I made these mistakes now, so I know for next year what is or isn’t feasible in a certain amount of time. I have also realised I need to factor certain things into my schedule, such as tiredness, a bit of time to relax, and time to spend with my friends. However much I may love what I do, I have learnt I’m not a machine, and I actually have to look after myself a bit more! But I’m at uni to learn, and it seems you learn a lot more than just the creative stuff! And now I can look forward to 3rd year with this new knowledge under my belt, so I’m very excited! Here’s the link to my final film, ‘Kindred;’

My lecturers also super kindly nominated me for an award this year at our end of year show. I was really touched because I wasn’t really expecting it; although I did work hard there were a lot of days behind the scenes where I couldn’t concentrate at all, as well as the fact that I’m quite harsh on my own work. I think the not concentrating thing was mainly due to the things I’ve already noted that need to be changed next year; I need to actually rest! But nonetheless, I was very grateful for the nomination!!

So this basically wraps up second year! I’d compare this year to having a nice hike through the forest, where there’s quite a lot of difficult terrain to navigate, but the forest is still beautiful nonetheless, and maybe at one point you get chased by a bear, but you manage to escape and then have a nice picnic on an old log or something. (In other words, it’s been tricky but awesome!)

Now time for…..THIRD YEAR! (dundundun)

E4 Stings Project

For our latest project, we had to design and create our own E4 sting! It’s been a really fun project because we were all allowed to go a bit mental and create some crazy ideas! We started by looking at some stings that had already been created. I really liked one particular sting which was a sort of shadow puppet show; I liked the smooth animation, mixed with the weird idea. I wasn’t crazy abut the sting that won that year, but I did like the colour scheme; it was quite minimal with only the purple being the stand out colour. So with these things in mind I went and did some research.

As I think I’ve mentioned before in my blog, I have recently been inspired by the work of Jamie Hewlett in the ‘Gorillaz’ music videos. I love the angular, rough look and the style of the animation. So I think his style has subconsciously influenced me in this project! In my own sting I’ve tried to create a sketchy look, with very snappy animation. I also made my lead character quite angular, to match the animation, and also because she’s quite villainous. 84d6378ed71f186e248c5f8d515290ca

Also I’ve been reading a lot recently, and I think the things I’ve been looking at have had an influence on my ideas! I’ve been reading ‘The Umbrella Academy,’ drawn by Gabriel Ba, which is quite a dark graphic novel. I love the character designs; again they are quite angular, but full of emotion. (I’ve also been reading a lot of Stephen King which I think is why I chose an idea with monsters in it…)

umbrellaacademy

I also decided that I wanted to do this project in Flash, because I’ve never used it before and I thought it would be useful to learn. I discovered that TV shows such as ‘Foster’s home for imaginary friends’ and ‘Happy Tree Friends’ and made in flash. Both have quite different styles, in terms of animation and design, which I thought was good because it meant there would be room for me to create an animation in my own style. Also both shows are weird in their own way; Foster’s Home is aimed at kids, and is set in a place where orphaned imaginary friends live, meaning the characters and storylines are quite strange! And Happy Tree Friends is even stranger; it puts cute characters in seemingly lovely situations, and they all end up being killed in gruesome ways…

All of this came together to influence my own work. I decided to create a sting in which a mischievous girl shakes a can of ‘E4 juice’ and explodes it onto a crowd of people, who then all turn into crazy monsters! I used a minimal colour palette with purple being the only vibrant colour used, and I used snappy animation to create a weird look. Here are some of my designs!

I really enjoyed this project, I’ll hopefully be able to try something like this again for my major project!