Reasons to do what you love!
When you're applying to get hired into studios, there's a seemingly endless list of do's and don'ts on how to build Showreels or Portfolios. Amid all of these guidelines and advice, sometimes it's hard to remember the most important thing.

Before digging deeper into the subject of 'do what you love', I want to finally announce my mystery project! Some people may have guessed from the header video already. I'm still excited to say it! 

The Girl and the Glim Animated Trailer

Arrrrgh! I'm scared but happy!
Mike and I are always trying to push ourselves with the projects we create in our spare time. This new project we created with the aim to try and streamline our animation pipeline, push our effects work, and attempt to create animation work on par with that created in animation studios.

We proposed this 'small' 40 second endeavour - An animated trailer for The Girl and the Glim. The series was originally meant to be a pitch for an animated show, so there's a special thrill that comes with me being able to animate these characters as though that is what it is. We are hoping it will get people excited about Book two, and help us spread the word when it comes to getting it printed!

An amazing collaboration!

The gorgeous trailer theme you can hear above was created by the fantastic MBulteau, based around this melody Mike came up with. I have been a fan of Miguel's work for a very long time, ever since I heard his Undertale arrangements over on his Youtube Channel. You can also find his work on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr, if any of those are your jam! You can imagine I was absolutely stoked to be able to collaborate with such an amazing musician. 

He absolutely knocked it out of the park, I can't wait to animate to his music!

If you'd like to recreate the pulsing effect we used in the video in your own work, we followed this tutorial - it's super fast and simple to do!

The next week will be spent storyboarding this in my spare time. Here is a preview of some of the shots I have been considering. I would love to get some subtext and symbolism in there as well as foreshadowing for what is to come.

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Why you should do what you love

You wouldn't think you would need a reason to do what you love. However it's surprisingly easy to slip into spending your days doing what you think you should be, rather than doing what inspires you.

(Page examples drawn by Matías Bergara, colour by Mike)

On the other side of the coin, it is important to be able to create excellent work whether you are 'inspired' or not, and you will need to if you are in a studio.

However, you have a much better chance of getting hired to do the kind of work that you love if that is what you have on your showreel.

A lot of students tend to do painting by numbers showreels - a walk cycle, a piece of lipsync, a piece of acting.... These aren't bad guidelines in themselves, but remember that there is nothing wrong in having a reel that leans into what gets you fired up personally. The problem is that when people hire you on that kind of work, it will usually be to give you more of that kind of work. Then this goes on your reel and the cycle repeats ad infinum, with the animator feeling stuck in a rut. 

This is both why personal projects are so important, and also why it's important to be doing the job you want to be hired for before you are hired.

There is a recurring belief that when you get into a studio, that will be the environment that will push your work forwards and force improvement as you try to match the standards of the other animators/artists. There is definitely credence to this - however, the problem with this is that Studios want to hire animators who can already do the work.

Practice professionalism now. Reply to your emails, meet your deadlines, do great work and be great to work with - and most importantly, learn to push your limits when on your own. Watch your favourite animators, your favourite scenes, whatever makes you passionate about the medium and then do that! 

When Mike saw these pages from Supergirl, drawn and inked by Matias Bergara, he couldn't help not colouring them - and these are the pages which led to the work he's doing with Matias on Coda right now. 

One of the hard things to learn is that there isn't really an easy bridge from school to first studio job. It's frequently down to self teaching. That means it's up to you to reach for as high a standard as you can.

If you have awesome, professional work on your showreel, it doesn't necessarily matter if you don't have a walk cycle or lipsync. Studios will hire you to take advantage of your strengths, so make sure that whatever that strength is, it's something you're happy to work on all day every day.

Here is an example from my life!
When I left Boulder Media last year, I had a showreel full of animation I had done on popular kid's shows. It was probably the kind of showreel that would get me hired. However, the work was all 2d rigs/puppets! I knew that if I were hired, it would most likely be to work on the same kind of shows - after all, that's what I had on my reel. So instead, I uploaded a completely new reel, containing only rough hand drawn animation tests that I had completed in my spare time. It felt like a big risk - I had never freelanced before and I was scared that I had shot myself in the foot and no one would want to work with me. Honestly though, it was one of the best moves I'd made. A few weeks later someone asked me to work on my first hand drawn 2d animated freelance job, and it was some of the most fun, challenging work I've had so far.

Versatility is still an important skill for an animator to have, so I encourage you to have a grounding in the basics - practice excellent lipsync, walks, etc as this will only strengthen your skillset, but fill your reel with the kind of work you want to spend your life doing. There is no reason not to be doing what you love right now.

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Next Time

In the next Animation Update we'll be sharing the finished Glim animatic and some colour scripts for it! We'll also be discussing the importance of self care when it comes to life balance / well being. If you want to pitch in some questions we can discuss it over the week and include some of your amazing advice too.

Until then friends,

Do what you love!

~ Doig & Swift