“Some people don’t even know what job you’re applying for,” says Trond Greve Andersen, co-owner of MIR Visuals, which specializes in architectural visualization. “In a studio like ours, it doesn’t make sense to look at models of orcs.”
Make your role clear.
One of the reasons recruiters don’t like student films is that it’s usually teamwork and it’s often unclear what the applicant has contributed. If there are three characters on the screen, is it obvious which one you have illuminated, animated or modeled?
In group work, it’s important to explain what the candidate has created,” says Neil Gallagher. “Either you point this out in the video if there are group pieces or you provide a breakdown as a PDF or Word document”.
Show how they work.
What you’ve created speaks for itself to some extent, but people will also want to know how you’ve done it. “Communicate at the end of your play what your contribution was and what software was used,” says Patricia Kung. “When you apply for a technical position, you show that you have a creative eye, too.”
Keep things simple.
It’s better to do something that’s simple and well done than to opt for more complex projects and look like an amateur.
“You see far too many animators trying to build their own five-minute avatars, and in the end they get so distracted by everything else that the actual animation becomes the last thing you do,” says Andrew Daffy of House of Curves.
“In contrast, I always remember the story of a candidate who became one of the most important animators in the BBC television series Walking with Dinosaurs. His role was about a minute and a half long and it was a five-second sequence that secured his employment. It was a poorly rendered line character, but the body language was perfectly animated.”
Technique beats originality.
Demo reels need some flair, but never at the expense of basic skills. “When it comes to choosing between originality and technical quality, I’d go back to something that’s simple and well done,” says Throssell.
Images to avoid.
Some CG clichés should be avoided if possible. “If there’s one thing that makes my heart beat faster, it’s a demo with spaceships,” says Joylon Webb, R&D Art Director at Blitz Games Studios Ltd. “They’re usually textured cylinders with no modeling skills: You can’t see weight, they don’t interact with surfaces, they don’t show composition, and they’re a cliché that’s been made for 20 years.” Other clichés that should generally be avoided are kites, robots, cameras flying endlessly around sets and worlds populated by supermodels and manga heroes.