Get your dream job in 3d

We spoke to re­cruiters at a range of top stu­dios to get ad­vice that will put you ahead of the pack

3D World - - CONTENTS -

Heed ad­vice from a range of re­cruiters from top stu­dios and find out how to land your dream 3D job

“some­one who works at a com­pany you’re in­ter­ested in could get you in the door” Amy Smith, head of tal­ent, Frame­store

You’ve got the tal­ent to land a top job in 3D, but so do a lot of peo­ple. Some­times the de­cid­ing fac­tor in who gets the most ex­cit­ing jobs isn’t what you can do, but how good you are at telling peo­ple about it. This month, we grilled the very peo­ple who look at your showreel and read your CV to find out what you need to do to make a killer ap­pli­ca­tion and get the job of your dreams.


When it comes to find­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, one thing is clear: you need to put a lot of ef­fort into Linkedin. Frame­store, Jel­ly­fish and Dou­ble Neg­a­tive all men­tioned it when asked how to find out about avail­able roles, and Jel­ly­fish said that most of their ap­pli­ca­tions come from Linkedin. Dou­ble Neg­a­tive told us that de­spite re­ceiv­ing a large vol­ume of di­rect ap­pli­ca­tions, they still of­ten need to ap­proach peo­ple via Linkedin if they are hir­ing in high num­bers, so you need to make sure that your pro­file is up to date so that re­cruiters can find you in searches. It’s good to state when you’re avail­able, too.

Stu­dios post va­can­cies and de­tails of events they are at­tend­ing on Linkedin and other so­cial me­dia, so make sure you’re fol­low­ing them. It’s also worth keep­ing an eye on sites such as Creative­heads, An­i­mat­ed­jobs and CG Meetup.

Frame­store get just un­der half of their hires from their on­line ap­pli­ca­tion process, around 20 per cent from re­fer­rals, and the rest through ei­ther in-per­son or on­line net­work­ing, so it’s vi­tal that you work to ex­pand your net­work and keep in touch with the peo­ple you al­ready know. Stu­dios reg­u­larly ask their em­ploy­ees for re­fer­rals, so just know­ing some­one who works at a com­pany you’re in­ter­ested in could get you in the door. Go to the ca­reers fairs and in­dus­try events so you can make con­tact in per­son, and con­nect with tal­ent ac­qui­si­tion teams on Linkedin.


There are two key pieces of ad­vice for putting your ap­pli­ca­tion to­gether: it should be closely tai­lored to both the stu­dio and the par­tic­u­lar role in ques­tion, and you should try to find a way to make your­self stand out. Natalie at Dou­ble Neg­a­tive rec­om­mends find­ing out in­ter­est­ing facts about the com­pany you’re ap­ply­ing to, in­clud­ing them in your cover let­ter and ex­plain­ing why you want to work for them in par­tic­u­lar. This will make you stand out from the rest: “It shows us that you’ve done your re­search, and that your ap­pli­ca­tion is thought­ful,” she says.

For your CV, “clear, con­cise, fo­cused” is the mantra to keep in mind. Un­less you’re just start­ing out, don’t put ev­ery­thing you’ve ever done on there – just in­clude the things that are rel­e­vant for this par­tic­u­lar job. The re­cruiter is scan­ning a lot of CVS for key cri­te­ria and they’re busy – help them do their job; let your CV be the one that gives them just what they’re look­ing for.

It’s time-con­sum­ing, but you should even be tai­lor­ing your showreel to the com­pany and role. Frame­store, for ex­am­ple, spe­cialises mostly in pho­to­real work, “So a reel full of CG an­i­ma­tion and a cover let­ter that doesn’t talk about why you are look­ing to make the move into more photo-re­al­is­tic work is un­likely to be suc­cess­ful,” says Amy.


“Gen­er­ally, when I watch reels, I am very pushed for time – the first ten sec­onds counts for a lot!” says Dave Cook, CG Su­per­vi­sor at Jel­ly­fish. Stu­dios don’t have time to watch long reels, so get the ac­tion un­der­way quickly, put your best

and most dis­tinc­tive work first, and cut ruth­lessly to keep the whole thing short; no longer than two min­utes. If you still have a lot of work to show, make sep­a­rate videos that fo­cus on dif­fer­ent skills. The struc­ture should also be tai­lored to the com­pany; if the stu­dio has a spe­cial­ism, pri­ori­tise that work.

“If you don’t have it, make it,” says Mario Aquaro, head of rig­ging at AXIS. “If you want to work on a spe­cific project style but you don’t have any work ex­pe­ri­ence, spend time try­ing to build a per­sonal project where you can show what you can do. Some­times, an in­com­plete work tells more than a fi­nal pro­duc­tion; it gives the per­son watch­ing it an idea of your po­ten­tial and real as­pi­ra­tions.”

The fi­nal con­sid­er­a­tion when se­lect­ing work for your reel is to think about how you’re go­ing to stand out from all the other ap­pli­cants whose work is high qual­ity and fit­ting for the role. “It’s worth think­ing about the con­cept of ‘flair’.” says Amy of Frame­store. “We see a lot of reels from cer­tain schools/train­ing pro­grammes that look very, very sim­i­lar be­cause ev­ery­one has worked on the same train­ing pieces. If that is you then it’s re­ally worth think­ing about how you could per­son­alise these pieces and add your own twist to briefs you are given. You can also look at work­ing on a per­sonal piece or two out­side of school if you feel your reel could do with stand­ing out more.”


“Al­ways in­clude a break­down,” says Natalie of Dou­ble Neg­a­tive. “[Do it] ei­ther in the reel it­self by pro­vid­ing turnta­bles for mod­els and show­ing the mesh, or lay­er­ing in the light­ing passes; or if this isn’t pos­si­ble, pro­vide an ac­com­pa­ny­ing doc­u­ment de­scrib­ing what you did on the as­set or in the shot, and how you achieved it.”

The break­down is vi­tal for show­ing your work­ing process, but Cook notes that it is also im­por­tant to iden­tify which el­e­ments of a shot you ac­tu­ally did: “This is es­pe­cially true if you have shots from big shows that will be on quite a few folks’ reels.”

For mod­els, Dave likes to see a wire­frame and even a UV lay­out; for light­ing, a break­down of passes; for rig­ging, a good range of mo­tion and demon­stra­tion of any an­i­ma­tion in­ter­face.

Mario rec­om­mends adding space for a text de­scrip­tion in which you should ex­plain your role and what you have done, keep­ing the text short and clear. You can pro­vide a sep­a­rate break­down that goes into more de­tail.

MU­SIC on your REEL

Mu­sic is a de­bate that comes up a lot, but of the re­cruiters we spoke to, most said it wasn’t a pri­or­ity. “Don’t worry about any clever ed­its to mu­sic,” says Amy. “Per­son­ally I don’t mind whether you have mu­sic or not, but I do care if you have made a mu­sic video rather than a show­case for your work. If the cuts are too short and snappy be­cause you’re try­ing to work with the mu­sic then we can’t see what you’ve done, and that’s just frus­trat­ing!”

Mario of AXIS agreed that it is a se­condary con­cern: “Watch­ing a showreel that is well syn­chro­nised with the sound­track sure is cool, but don’t lose sight of your real goal: clearly pre­sent­ing your work”.

For The Se­quence Group, how­ever, the abil­ity to syn­chro­nise your reel with com­pelling mu­sic is a skill they value in it­self: “If you can cre­ate a pulse to your work and keep us watch­ing be­yond the first 20 sec­onds, that shows us you have tal­ent be­yond the con­tent you’ve cre­ated,” says Ian Kirby.

When you’ve made all these tricky judge­ment calls and put your reel to­gether, get some­one else to look at it with fresh eyes for you, and make sure the video it­self is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by putting it on a stream­ing site such as Vimeo or Youtube. Mul­ti­ple peo­ple from each stu­dio are go­ing to look at it, so it should be easy to share and work on any plat­form. You should also put a sim­ple ti­tle card in the reel with your con­tact de­tails so it’s easy for peo­ple to get in touch if they like what they see.


If your ap­pli­ca­tion and reel have done their job and got you an in­ter­view, you’ll need to pre­pare for three key things: talk­ing in de­tail about your work process, demon­strat­ing that you’re a good fit for the com­pany, and ask­ing thought­ful ques­tions.

“Re­ally pre­pare care­fully for how you want to present your work to us and what you would like to say about each piece,” says Amy from Frame­store. “In­ter­views in this in­dus­try can be very in­for­mal, which of­ten catches peo­ple out. In­for­mal doesn’t mean that you or we shouldn’t or don’t care! All it means is that we want you to feel com­fort­able and not ner­vous and able to re­ally talk us through the work on your reel; why you ap­proached things the way you did, how you would do some­thing dif­fer­ently next time, how you ap­proached a chal­lenge that came your way, and so on.”

Natalie from Dou­ble Neg­a­tive rec­om­mends find­ing out what you can about the com­pany’s cul­ture and what val­ues are im­por­tant to them. “At Dneg, we value col­lab­o­ra­tion, team­work and ini­tia­tive, so en­sure that you have ex­am­ples of how you have demon­strated these val­ues in the past.” Your com­pany-fit is be­ing assessed as well as your tech­ni­cal and creative skill, so you need to give this some care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion.

Fi­nally, you should have some ques­tions ready to ask your in­ter­view­ers: all the re­cruiters men­tioned this, so don’t leave it out. “Thought­ful ques­tions demon­strate gen­uine in­ter­est in the com­pany and the per­son who is in­ter­view­ing you; per­haps ask them about their own ex­pe­ri­ence at Dneg, and what they like about work­ing at the com­pany,” said Natalie.

Get­ting your dream job is about tim­ing, persis­tence and care­ful prepa­ra­tion, so spruce up your Linkedin, fol­low ev­ery com­pany you’re in­ter­ested in on so­cial me­dia, keep in touch with your net­work, and get out there and at­tend in­dus­try events. Once you have an op­por­tu­nity in your sights, if you fol­low the ad­vice we’ve laid out here and take care to avoid the com­mon blun­ders, you’ll give your­self the best pos­si­ble chance of achiev­ing your goals. Good luck!

Jel­ly­fish Pic­ture’s art di­rec­tor Ross Burt cre­at­ing a char­ac­ter for Den­nis and Gnasher

Right: Stills from a showreel dis­played at the of­fices of The Se­quence Group

Be­low: Pro­duc­tion team at Jel­ly­fish Pic­tures work­ing on dif­fer­ent el­e­ments of Den­nis and Gnasher.

Above: A still from Halo: The Fall of Reach, an an­i­mated short pro­duced by The Se­quence Group that’s part of Halo 5: Guardians Right: The Se­quence Group Dis­cussing work in the video room Far right: A still from a short pro­duced by The Se­quence Group...

Elf Archer, a project by Milen Piskuliyski, Lead Tex­ture Artist at Frame­store

Staff at work in the AXIS stu­dios

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