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September 2014
Issue: February 2006

REEL ADVICE

By: Marc Loftus

3D Training Institute and The Fashion Institute of Technology teamed up to host the "3D Animation Career Advancement Seminar" last month, offering attendees advice on how to find work in the animation industry. The two-hour discussion featured three panelists, all of whom are active in the animation industry and influential in the hiring process.

Lucien Harriot, founder/CEO on New York's Mechanism Digital, says that while it might be tough to find a job right out of school, there are ways to get one's foot in the door, namely internships. His studio has 15 workstations and says there's opportunity to learn the tools if you express interest and are willing to put in the time. To continue learning after graduation, Harriot recommends reading trade publications and attending SIGGRAPH. And as for demo reels, he offers a number of pointers: Only put on your best work and have the DVD start there. And, he says, don't make sequences too long!

Scott Sindorf, principal/co-founder/executive creative director of UVPhactory in New York, believes opportunities vary based on location. Films, he says, tend to be produced on the West Coast, while the East Coast offers more opportunities in broadcast. When applying to a studio, Sindorf says it's important to present a professional image. Research the company. Send a personalized letter. And enhance your animation with audio. As for the animation itself, he recommends short sequences that avoid clichés and awkward camera moves. He also stresses consciousness about the message: don't include imagery that might be controversial or offensive.

San Francisco-based recruiter, Chryssa Cooke has worked with studios such as The Orphanage and PDI/Dreamworks, and offered insight as to what high-end studios look for when hiring. She, too, notes that a reel should only include one's best work. It's also important, she says, to show the diversity of one's skills. Include examples of logo work, environments and photorealism.

If you have the opportunity to show your reel in person, Cooke recommends describing the sequences and their challenges as opposed to sitting back and letting it speak for itself.