Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pierre Speaks: Breaking into Animation

There probably are as many stories about breaking into animation as there are people working in animation.

Bob Morane storyboard 1

There is not ONE magic formula.

So all I can do is share the story of how I broke into animation.

Breaking into animation was a lot of work.

But unlike comics, where all I could pretty much do was send my submission by mail to various publishers and hope to hear back from some editor who might like my work, I could actually go to the studios and meet the people who might be interested in hiring me.

Bob Morane phone page

I could sell myself in person as opposed to through some blind submission package. Although ironically enough, I got the job on Bob Morane through blind submission.... but that is a story for another Blog.

Bob Morane storyboard 2

It took many meetings and many tests to do before I broke in.

Usually meeting someone and showing them my portfolio was not enough. Especially since I had no experience in animation and did not have many samples done in a cartoony style.

Heavy Metal concept character

So what would happen is that I would meet someone to look at my portfolio, and I would be given a test. I remember the first time I went job hunting, I came back home with 2 tests in the same day. A layout & posing test, and an inbetweener test.

I had no idea of how to do the layout & posing test. So I went to the bookstore and got the "Animation from script to screen" book to try to figure out how to do the darn thing.

So after lots of reading and lots of work, I finished both tests as best as I could and went back to hand them in.

I got neither of those jobs. ;)

Bob Morane characters

But it was a necessary first step in teaching myself about animation.

After many tests, I was told that they needed someone on the design team of "The busy world of Richard Scary". I went and applied for the job..... which meant one more test... and finally got the job.

So the first animated TV series I worked on was "The busy world of Richard Scary".

Richard Scary Character

But that story is for some other time. ;)

When you look out for work, you don't just apply for one job. You apply to as many jobs as you can for as many studios as you can and hope that at least one of them decides to hire you.


So once I started getting job offers, too often I ended up getting more then one job offer. So I would have to make a choice and turn some work down.

It was a strange feeling first not having anyone wanting to give you work, then later having to turn some work/job offers down.


Although tests are not only given to beginners.

There are times when even and old warhorse is asked to do a test. I have seen many veterans being insulted from being asked to do a test.

But I see it as a tool.

Marsu 2

Tests serve multiple purposes. They allow a studio to see what you can do, and to see if you can adapt to the style of their project they want you to work on.

But also, it is a tool for you to see if you will enjoy working on the project they are offering you. To see of you want to work in the style of the project.

There were projects where after doing their tests I was the one who said "F%$# that! I am not working on that".

It happens.

So a test is good for the studio to test your skills, but it is also good for you to test the project they are offering you to work on. ;)

Next time we will talk about "The busy world of Richard Scary".

Until then.


Richard said...

I'm curious about what project or type of project you'd turn down working on after having tested for it. Would it be because of some technical aspect of the project, or something to do with the content, or just not feeling you'd be a good fit? I know it can be a difficult decision to walk away from an offer of work (when I've had to do it, the decision has kept me awake at night for weeks afterward, fretting over whether or not I made the right choice) so I like to hear other people's experiences...

Pierre Villeneuve said...


"Odd Job Jack" (if I recall the title correctly) is a good example of a test that made me go.... I don't want to work on that.

Although most of the times, it is mostly a matter of having to choose between 2 projects.

I usually pick the one I THINK I will have the most fun working on. ;)


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