Ian's Rambles - What Qualifies You To Get Into The Animation Biz?

1st year student Dana has asked a great question in the comments of a previous post, I think its worth an answer in a post of its own.

She asked, “I have a question for you Ian. My Dad really wants me to have degree in animation but how much difference does it make to have a diploma instead of a degree in the animation business?”

Click HERE to read on....

Creative Commons Flickr image by terren in Virginia


Dana said...

Argh! What have I done? I've sent Ian on a rant!
Naaahhh, actually this is really helpful and hopefully it'll change the way my dad thinks about the degree's and diploma's in animation. I'm thinking he still thinks that I'll be able to go further if I have a Degree and maybe I will, maybe I won't but it's harder to tell with something like animation.

Thanks a bunch Ian ^____^
Now, to catch him in a good enough mood to tell him .__.

Ian said...

Well it is just one mans opinion, I'm sure the folk at the University would have opinions to the contrary.

If you are made to go to Uni, use it as a plus, make the most of the extra time, and stay productive.

Dana said...

Yeah, that's one thing I'll have to do.

I have another question which might sound childish (pfft like i care) but it's really starting to bug me. I've noticed that some other people in the class have been making other animations outside of class which is all good and fine but I just can't bring myself to do anything outside of tafe. It's not that I don't want to, it's taht I don't feel experienced enough (and rather scarred). I have a feeling that this is all fine and taht I will get over it but I'm the type of person who likes to have some sort of consolation for stuff like this.

frank said...

That's a great rant Ian.

My turn.

I'll say it again for those who didn't catch it the first time,
the balance and mix of teachers and subjects in this SBIT course are second to none.

Now I'm not just twanging people's guitar strings here. I've spent 20 years in a profession that took a 5 year course and two university Bachelor degrees to get in to. Then I spent another year studying multimedia in a diploma factory.

The further the course progresses and the fact that animation is quite a complex challenge (to say the least and not scare off potential animators), it is obvious to me that the craft is a long term learning process, most likely life-long like any of the fine arts.

I look forward to post diploma study. And some of the overseas courses, like Gobelins in Paris, College Emile Cohl in the south of France and University of Western England in Bristol UK have post graduate courses for those animators who have a diploma or bachelor degree. I'm sure there are more as I have found schools in Malaysia, Canada and the USA that all look interesting.

But my eyes are also cast toward Animation Mentor as the course to take character animation skills further (and gain some cred and connections in the wider industry).

If a student were to say to Ian, Jane and Terry that their animation goal by the end of the course was to put together a portfolio and showreel that would get them in to the Animation Mentor course, then I'm sure they would get that animation student enough advice, fuel and workload to make it happen.

Another important learning experience I have had to start off 2nd year was doing a paid animation project. One where I had to direct and design an animation, employ an animator, deal with clients, a producer, tax department, government bureaucrazy, and post production challenges. I found that what I learnt from first year was enough to make me jump in, but what I learnt in the process was like a 6 month subject compressed into 1 month.

So, if you're able to pick up small animating projects, that don't interfere with all the stuff you have to learn (not just pass), it's a real bonus to do it as a student while you've got such great teachers to ask for advice.

Ian said...

DANA- That’s not childish Dana, I’m not sure what extra student work you mean in particular, but I have seen some bits and pieces around and on the blogs.

I have to walk a fine line here, I don’t want to put anyone down for doing more work, they will learn by finding extra things, and I’d much rather have the problem of students who want to do too much than having those who couldn’t be bothered. But what are they learning?

Have a look at the extra work they are doing and ask how much it has to do with the things we have studied in class. Probably not much, that’s because the stuff we are doing in class, the hard stuff, can’t be whipped up in an afternoon. Its good that you have extra energy, my advice it to put it into the exercises we are doing in class. Do them better.

In previous ARC comments Frank has mentioned appeal, its my new buzz word. Take up the challenge to make every exercise you do the most appealing in the class. If we are talking about movement, make the movement as appealing as your favourite film. If we are talking about posing characters (next up for first years), make the poses as appealing as the poses in your favourite comic book or film.

I feel that the major thing lacking in the work produced at Southbank at the moment is that extra little bit of polish and pride (lets call it Plussing), that extra care that takes the work to the next level. Its something that’s hard to teach, you have to attempt it over and over to get it, students who blaze away all over the place don’t get enough opportunities to learn how to Plus a piece of animation on demand. They will learn more than those who don’t do enough, but its not the best way.

To tell you the truth I’ve only had one student so far who has taken each thing I have taught and really tackled it with amazing focus until they have pulled it off at a truly classy and professional level (sometimes better than I could do). Surprise, surprise that student walked straight into an animation position, not even having to work his way up to it through the studio.

It’s a complicated thing to manage, students come to us at a turbulent time in their lives and emotional development. If I could just get a few more each year to put their agenda’s aside and focus on executing the principles to the highest possible level time will allow (personal time as well as class time), then we could be taking the industry by storm :)

These are great questions Dana, you may even be better at getting me yapping than Frank. ;)

FRANK- Thanks for the kind words :)

I think what will really be weighing on Dana’s dads mind though will be the supposed industry cred that he asociates with a degree. If any industry folk out there could comment that might have some more weight to it. Lisa? Mark? Sam? Clay? ….. Anyone else?

Dana said...

Thanks Ian, I will take your advice and use all my energy to make my animations as best as they can be ^___^

Oh and I've been reading that animation tips and tricks eBook and even though I'm only a 1st year, I find it REALLY interesting.
Now hopefully I have enough memory space to remember it .___.

Ian said...

I definately didn't mean to imply that only 2nd year students should download it. I just singled them out because there are some section specific to 3D and they have gotten more into that. There is no doubt that everyone should read it :)

Dana said...

You know...now that I think about it, im not entirly sure why i said that O___o
I made cassie and kate download the book last night :p
And what are we doing here commenting on a blog! We should be eating chocolate eggs, Happy Easter =D

Lisa said...

Yo! Hey Dana, I have to look at showreels alot, and I can tell you right now, the first thing I look at, before ANYTHING else, is the showreel. I will sit there and watch the whole reel before making any considerations of looking at the written resume. Whatever experiences, influences, background you have in animation, will show first of all in your visual work. It doesn't matter to me if you did a Diploma, Degree, or taught yourself, etc...I want to see how well you can animate. That is after all what I am looking for...

One of the things that I found was great about going through a 'school' (and this is an umbrella heading for any course in animation) is the connections. Yes, any of theses courses will teach you animation, and one will give you more time to get hands on than another, but I also think the people you meet is very important as well. This is just a reason for you to go through an actual course rather than teach yourself...but once again, it's an example of BOTH a degree and a diploma offering you something just as important as each other...meeting people, forming friendships that can help you in the future.

Animation is Animation. It's what you make of your time doing the course that is important, not which one you do, or what is associated with it.. As Ian said, a Degree will help you get a work Visa overseas a bit better, but you also do alot of dull theory. A Diploma gives you more hands on time but isn't as long a course. You need to know what you want to get out of it...and make the best of the time and friendships that you make there.

I got a bit disjointed there, but to summarise what I said earlier..if you put alot of time and effort into it, it's your showreel that gets attention first, not where you went.

Ian said...

Hey Hey, thanks Lisa

In Case you don't know Dana, Lisa is a senior animator at Krome, brisbanes biggest games studio and employer of animators. Also Lisa did the degree at QCA so you would think she might even have a bias towards it.

Thanks again Lisa :)

Lisa said...

Dana, you also mentioned doing animation outside of TAFE. If you don't feel experienced enough to do animation outside of class, to be honest, that's the perfect way to get the experience. You don't have to do any animation outside of class that anyone else will have to see...just do your own stuff :-) if it doesn't work out, chuck it, but at least you've had a go at something - it's all experience. You don't HAVE to put it up on the web.

Sometimes it's just fun to get home and have a go at something like a walk cycle, or anything like that...and the good thing about being at home, you don't HAVE to show it to anyone...but it helps to give you time to figure things out in your work. If it looks ok, and you want feedback, I'm sure Ian or any of your classmates would love to give comments or feedback, heck, I'd love to as well. I highly recommend just mucking about with animation at home. Every little bit helps in your journey of learning.

Whatever you do, don't be scared of doing it. When you get in the industry (if that's what you choose, or you go freelance) people will pass judgements, or give comments, feedback, criticisms ALL the time..but that's all part of Animation itself. You just have to take the things on board and work at making it better...never take it personally, they aren't passing judgement on you as a person, they just want to help your animation succeed.

The consolation in this, as you asked, is that whatever happens, you'll get better at animation because of it - it's all experience.

Ian said...

Its a good point Lisa makes about contacts, I surpose another year of study at a different venu would enable you to meet more animators at your level. Thats one point I hadn't considered before, an expensive way to make some new friends though.

Lisa said...

I think equally between Uni, or Tafe for meeting contacts...it's a community here in Brisbane, everyone knows everyone else through some connection or another. It's just getting that chance to be exposed to the community that is a great start at all types of courses. :-)

Looks like i've had a bit of an Easter rant here...now where's that chocolate....

Lisa said...

and you're welcome, Ian. Happy Easter by the way folks! Hope everyone is taking it easy.

Ian said...

Sorry to use you as an example Lisa BUT....

You can see in Lisa's second rant there the passion I mentioned in the main article. She works dam hard, and while she may like to be able to have a few more holidays, I'm pretty sure that on the whole she wouldn't change a thing. She is in love with the process and is happier than a pig in mud when animating (I worked by her side for quite a few years in days gone by).

This passion and dog at a bone determination is the key to success, the often lacking ingredient, it sorts the diamonds from the rough (the cliché’s keep coming). Its so much more important than any qualification. Like it of not, it will be the difference between success or failure.

Personally I like it that way, I know when I'm working along side a successful animator (by successful I mean having sustained a career) that there is a kind of shared experience between us. We both know what it takes, been to hell and back for the love of our craft. Its a rare thing, something you don't get in many other professions I think.

You gota love it.

Dana said...

omg, thanks so much Ian and Lisa, you guys really helped me out and answered my questions! THANK YOU!
I feel a lot better now and I even feel like trying some simple little animations so I can work on my timing some more ^___^
To the pencil program!

Mitch said...

I guess I'm on of those kids making extra stuff in my spare time. This has absolutely nothing to do with Ian's, Terry's OR Jane's classes, but more to do with me finding my own way and style. It's all fair and well to listen intently in class and do the right thing. But I find that when i get home, I've got the right to use my OWN creative animators licence "But not to offend those who've spent years on trying to become good animators, I'll call it my Learners Licence", and with that I can start to form my own finger print in this great wide world of animation.

Never before this course, have I known how to use ANY of the software Ian and Terry have taught me "apart from photoshop" and I can't help but express and explore my imagination in this spare time.

Of course It's hard to let one's imagination flow when animation is such a time consuming process, so people might find that I don't spend alot of time on the finer details. This isn't me being lazy or rebellious. Well maybe it IS me being lazy, but I find I can explore more of my imagination if I rush things. And thanx to a very patient teacher trying to repetitively explain these things to me, I now know which way to do things in class, and which way to "get away with" doing things at home ^_^.

And Dana, you said before that you don't feel experienced enough to show your animation to the public (well not in those words but thats how I understood it).
I can tell you right now, that I'm certainly no professional. I'm sure that more than half the people that visit the ARC blog could come up with a million and one ways to point out flaws, and suggest more timing here, and less timing there. That could have been drawn better, and theres too much going on in this scene, etc. And in a way thats why I make them, because I know every once in a while I'll get some REALLY good feedback from people who know what they're talking about. And sometimes it hurts a little because you spent like 4-6 hours making the damn thing and they can't find one nice thing to say about it, but the bigger picture is, you aren't perfect, its very unlikly you're going to create a wonderous masterpiece over a couple of weekends, but the way I see it, is that you're scoring professional oppinions for free. And not many people can get that.

I know this has nothing to do with the subject at hand "Qualifications" I just wanted to point out to Dana why I make crap in my spare time. AND It's just really really fun to me ^_^.


Dana said...

Thanks Mitch. Another thing i just realise is that I felt as though I should be doing what you were doing Mitch, going home and doing more animation because my parents paid for this course, even though i will pay them back, and i want get as much out of as possible, not just so I'll get a job afterwards (I'm just being positive) but so that my parents won't feel as though they've waisted their money on this.

Guess I just felt a little pressure cause I spend my free time drawing and colouring instead of practising my timing.
Actually I should probably practise my perspective more.

Gosh, I feel a tad stupid for bearing my emotions so easily like that....I'll get over it >__>

Ian said...

You are absolutely right Mitch you do have the right to do what ever you want with your own time, of course. We are just talking about advice here, not rules.

As I said before the problem of over productive students is not a problem at all compared to the students who don't do any extra work. And in my experience its most of them.

You know me Mitch, if I had a problem with you making extra stuff I would have told (or typed) it to your face by now. I just didn't want Dana to feel bad for not taking the same approach. What kind of a teacher would I be if I had a problem with extra animation.

What I was trying to highlight is that that extra level of polish is yet another part of the process that you can (and should in my opinion) explore.

One of our best students last year produced and produced, he was a freakish animation machine god lov im. But I was always on his case to slow down and take the time for that extra level of care. I'm pretty confident he will get a job at some stage, he is very tenacious, but it hasn't happened straight away, he has made life a bit harder for himself by producing too much without taking any of the work to a higher level that I know he can or will one day.

Ian said...

Dana - If you havn't noticed, my emotions are splattered all over this blog. EEEEEWWW!

These no shame in that :P

Dana said...

Maybe they're infectious like kooties :o

frank said...

Anyone who wants to do extra animation, in their preferred style, outside of class work, and get feed back on their work should consider the 11 second Club run by Animation Mentor.


Kristi said...

Um. As I understand it, you prefer to draw and colour, and not animate, in your spare time? To make it in the industry, I think that you need crazy passion for animation, which will inspire you to work your little tush off. (Ian, Lisa, you do spring to mind.) It's more important than crazy talent, which we are not all blessed with anyway, and far more important than graduation from any course.
I hope that I have just misunderstood your comments, but if you see animation as a chore this early in your career... Well, best of luck anyway.

Dana said...

I don't see animating as a chore, in fact I rather enjoyed our last animation assessment piece, even if it did annoy me a bit. I do enjoy colouring (maybe a bit much) but i really do want to become the best animator i can be.
I was saying in my comment that im scared to do animations outside of tafe, not that I didn't want to.

Terry said...

Dana, I salute your enthusiasm and work ethic!

Also, maybe let your Dad know about our bridging program with QCA. At the end of this year you'll have the option of joining that program, wherein you have an increased workload next year (and perhaps some classes over the Christmas break) and then be able to jump straight into the final year of the Griffith Animation degree. The program is being run for the 1st time this year and I gather it's been a hellacious task to organise, but as far as I know it's all going well. There might be some changes to the way it's run in the futire, though... but that's not my department!

Dana said...

Why thank you terry ^__^
And yeah he knows about the QCA thing and he wants me to do that. I do know taht no matter how much work load is, I'm sure i'll get through it. If i can cope with 3 arts during grade 12 then im sure I'll be able to cope without going insane too much =D

Ian said...

I think Kristi is laying down a test for ya there Dana. Getting you to check just how much you want it (she's a sneeky one ;).

I think you had a pretty good answer.

I'm lovin all this eye of the tiger grear.



DA d DA!





Cut to montage of weekling animators struggling to punch meet, waddle through snow, and climb stairs.

Na na naaaa naaa na na naaa naaa naaaa naaa naaaaaa naaa naaaa, naa naa naa naaa naaa naaaa naaaaaaa naaaaaa naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa of the tigerrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Dana said...

Lol. I think the animators version of eye of the tiger should be more like...drawing the line of actions, figuring out scene's, flipping through pages on the light box and then using maya =D

That would be highly entertaining to watch, maybe I should store it away for possible show reel ideas

And is there a possibility that you forgot the words to eye of the tiger?

Ian said...

I thought it went naa naa naaa.

Dana said...

Hmmm...lets find out!
*searchs for lyrics*

It's the eye of the tiger, it's the cream of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he's watchin' us all in the eye of the tiger

Oh well, no matter what the lyrics are, i never have and never will like this song.

At least the starting is fun to sing :p

Lisa said...

It's the light of the lightbox, it's the glean of the screen
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known animator stalks his curve in the key
And he's watchin' us all in the .avi of the motion.

well that doesn't sing out so well, but I couldn't help myself.

oh and na , na naaaaaa.

Lisa said...

any one thought of maybe doing a , i don't know, 4 second club or something....might be a good way to get everyone to do some out of tafe/uni/work time animation..could be anonymous if need be - but would be a good way to get everyone working to build up some animation experience, but force you to do it in a very short amount of time. The rule would be to do it in only 3 nights or something...a certain amount of time...that way no one gets precious about their work and just animates quickly! get those creative juices goin.....?

Mitch said...

LISA! I'd certainly join up. 4 seconds is enough to learn from, but not too much to worry over.

Who would start it?

Ian said...

I have a feeling I'm being set up for something here :)

I think we are talking about a small minority here, I have trouble getting most students just to do enough work.

Those few are worth some extra effort though, I will thinks on it.

Dana said...

I like the idea of the club, it'll give me ideas to make little animations and it'll also help me practise the stuff Ian has taught us.

Count me in ^__^

Ian said...

Heres the thing.

A few weeks ago I recomended everyone should do the jump exercise step by step as on Victor Navones blog in their own time. I wonder if a single student has done it.

I can't help but conclude that students say they will do extra, but only if the particular extra thing is what they are personaly interested in. Given that there are about 50 students in all, and they all have different interests and aspirations, how can I ever come up with activities that will engage everyone or even the majority.

I think I would need to see a comitment from some students to the extra work they know they should do instead of the extra work they feel like doing before going to the trouble of setting up anything else.

Mitch said...

*rolls eyes*

I'll do it this afternoon... sheesh.

Dana said...

sheesh...great job at making me feel guilty Ian.

But your right, I know I haven't done it but I said I would look at it and I WILL.
It'd be a great way to brush up on maya stuff. *goes and favs the website*
There...now it's easy to get to

Ian said...

Hmmmm two nibbles.

Its a start. But I will need more. MORE I TELLS YA! BWAAAAA HAAA HAAAAAA HAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAA GAA HA cough cough splutter splutter.

Dana said...

Well if that doesn't proove that our animation teacher is crazed and evil...I don't know what will.
Might as well joing you though.