What drew you to learn animation? Lean in to that inspiration.
I wanted to expand a little upon something that I wrote in my destinations article.
When I had just graduated, I took a long hard look at where my interests lay and where I wanted my career to go. I decided that I wanted to animate fun, appealing, character performances, not photorealistic creatures.
Why was that distinction important?
Well, whilst character animation and creature animation are built upon the same animation principles, the degree of exaggeration you apply to those principles is quite different. There are many experienced animators who successfully work in both styles but, when you’re just starting out and are trying to build a showreel, it’s helpful to pick a direction. This enables you to produce enough work in a particular style to create a strong reel and land a job. It also helps to show a studio you have a clear interest in the type of work that they’re doing.
At the time that I graduated, almost all of the work where I live in the UK, was in VFX doing realistic creature animation. The projects were big and prestigious. I enjoyed watching the films. For most people these were dream jobs.
It seemed a no-brainer to target my showreel towards realistic creature animation.
But, when I really analysed what inspired me about animation, that wasn’t it.
The earliest Pixar films were part of what first drew me to a career in animation. Monster’s Inc and Finding Nemo both came out while I was studying animation, but it was the release of The Incredibles that really set me firmly on my path. The film blew me away. That was what I really wanted to do.
The dilemma was whether I should chase the work that was available or focus on creating work in a style that I enjoyed. I chose the later.
It’s impossible to know what opportunities are right around the corner. When we focus on chasing the work, we’re always a step behind. By creating a showreel which targeted the work I really found inspiring, I was ready and waiting when an opportunity presented itself. That’s how I got my first break into animation.
Have a think about what really inspires you about animation. Is there a film, tv series, or game that made you want to start on this journey? If there is, think about leaning in to that inspiration. You never know where it might lead!
My favourite resource for learning the mechanics of animation.
Keeping an eye on the bigger picture is crucial to animate a strong performance.