Advice for careers in animation - Part 2: The importance of a good showreel

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The importance of a good portfolio and showreel

AIT Animation teacher Nik Sutila attended the 2015 Melbourne International Animation festival to get inspired and seek out new tips for his aspiring animation students. Nik will share what he has learnt over the coming weeks to help aspiring animators realise their potential! This is the first part of a 3 part series where Nik will share some things he learned from this Animation conference.
Amongst the many gems of advice, one of my core beliefs was reaffirmed :

Do a lot of drawing.

In particular, regular life drawing. I have always urged my students to participate in life drawing. The stronger you are at drawing, the stronger you are at understanding forms, movement, anatomy and the stronger you will be at animating in general. A strong portfolio for an animation job displays life drawing sketches in dynamic poses and not copied manga drawings. Don’t ever submit copied artwork. Those types of things may have been great for you to find your feet in controlling your mediums and learning how to produce certain lines and shapes but they don’t help you in any other way especially when trying to impress a prospective director. Your showreel should be short and snappy with lots of variety. It is not advised to feature long chunks of your student film. The point of your showreel is to show your ability in 30 seconds. Displaying your knowledge of the principles of animation is what is going to impress. Don’t focus on displaying your polished media projects too much because drawing skills are valued much more. Be sure also to cut it to a beat and make the transitions and choices match the music. This will display to the employer that you have a sense of timing and some skill in editing,  this is important. One student was spoken about who had a showreel showing very strong animation principles and then was hired by a studio and taught Maya from scratch. The skill to represent dynamic anatomy in motion and timing it correctly will be the “fighting spirit” you need to enter the tournament without a black belt.

A good character animator will get jobs.

Do a lot of drawing.

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Teacher Bio - Nik Sutila

Nik Sutila is an AIT Animation and Concept Art teacher. He has a Masters in Animation from UTS and has created animation for such companies as MTV, Sydney Opera House, FujiXerox and Google. His passion as a teacher is helping his students achieve their artistic goals.