So You Want A Job, Eh?

August 13, 2007 7:18 pm

 

 

One of the more enjoyable perks about having a media pass to the world’s greatest computer graphics event of SIGGRAPH 2007 is being able to attend the conferences and courses going on throughout the day. Here’s one that should get your attention!

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson, aka, PamRecruit@aol.com , put on a wonderful presentation about demo reels. Her catchy title? "Resumes and Demo Reels: If Yours Don’t Work, Neither Do You!" Tips and gotchas for the demo reel that you want to use to land that great job in computer graphics.

This conference hopefully will be available at the Get SIGGRAPH To Go! website after the convention is concluded. If you buy nothing else, make sure you at least get this one.

Ms. Thompson is a recruiter for many of the graphics companies and movie sets that require your special skills. She shared the great tip that getting a job is more about you and what you do than the software you know. Many companies have their own software, so focus on your skills and strengths rather than your schools and technical knowledge.

Some do’s and don’ts from Ms. Thompson:

Don’t make an employer work to see your work. Don’t expect the employer to go to a website to see what you do. Make it easy for them.

Do update your resume and demo reel every 6 months even if you don’t get hired. Many employers make a note of your progress and when you are at the point where your skillset matches their need, then they will call.

Minimize erotica, satanic and violent content. This limits your employment range and some companies just don’t want it.

Don’t include anything that doesn’t relate to the work you want to do. Do emphasize your strong points. Put those in the beginning. Start your demo reel with a hook that lets the employer see right away what it is that you do well.

Do keep your reel short. Your demo reel should be about a minute long. During a regular week, on average, an employer may receive 30 to 40 demo reels. During recruiting announcements, 300 and at SIGGRAPH, 3000-4000. So expect that an employer may fast forward and may give your reel all of 30 seconds. Why do they look? Why do they go to SIGGRAPH and put out the money and expense at job fairs? Because there may be a chance of finding that one, or two, or three gems of employees and artists that they are looking for.

Don’t expect any feedback, but if you do get a call with criticism, just listen. Don’t get angry. Learn from what they are saying.

Don’t send in WIP’s (works in progress). No shrink wrap on the demo reel, no email attachments (fear of viruses).

Do emphasize your strengths. Companies that are large are probably looking more for specialists. There are basically 5 categories: Lighting artists (the rarest and hardest to find), Modelers, Texturing artists, Animators and Compositors. Smaller companies tend to look more for generalists, or people who do well with more than one area.

Do take the time to study acting. Remember, the movie is about acting, not just about moving pixels around. Characters should have weight and not float about. Give them feeling. Tell a story. You should get some anatomy training and spend some time with the traditional fine arts as well. Animation concepts are more important than software knowledge.

Don’t worry too much about sound. Some companies will turn the sound down or off. However, if you have lipsynch, then do get the sound synched to the character.

Do consider starting out in an entry level position and working up. Maybe starting as a prop designer and later moving to character design.

If you are applying for a director job, have a good story line in your reel.

Ms. Thompson also has some great advice for you as a person. Your reputation is golden. What people say about you is worth more than what you can do. You may work on a team and later find that some of those team members are working for the company that you dreamed about. What that team member remembers about you can make it or break it. If you take a job, show up. If you can’t show or take another job, call, talk about it, but NEVER burn bridges.

And my favorite tip from Ms. Thompson, "Nobody cares how old you are or what school you went to."

Oh there’s more, a lot more. So if you get a chance to attend one of Ms. Thompson’s courses, by all means, do so!


It's that time again.  SIGGRAPH 2007.  This year, you can enjoy the full show and courses online!  Its SIGGRAPH to GO!  

After SIGGRAPH is over, the courses and events will be uploaded to the internet and available for purchase.  Also on the website will be SIGGRAPH 2003 - 2005!  You can buy an individual presentation for $9.99, or buy a half day or a full day ... or the whole enchalada for $199.99.  Wow, under $200.00!  Its always great to save a penny.  

Oh, the website?  http://encore.siggraph.org
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Tech News is a regular featured column with Renderosity Staff Columnist Eric Post [EricofSD]. Eric reports on breaking technology news, as well as other areas, through articles, interviews, and product reviews.

August 20, 2007

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Article Comments


DramaKing ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 21 August 2007

Wow, I'm really doing to have to remember this!

agiel ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 21 August 2007

This is one of the most useful courses (and popular judging by the attendance each year) given at SIGGRAPH - a must have for anyone working on their resume.

jif3d ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 24 August 2007

Great tips as I am updating my demo reel at present and sure this will help me get my dream job...or at least go in the right direction, thanx fo r this info ! Cheers Jeff :o)

deemarie ( posted at 12:00AM Sat, 25 August 2007

Outstanding tips ... not just for animators but as a general rule of thumb for job searching. Thanks for sharing your SIGGRAPH experience with us :] Dee-Marie