Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Animal Logic - What's in a Demo Reel?

The folks who brought you Lego Movie
At a recent talk in London Patricia Kung, head of Recruitment at Animal Logic, explained what Animal Logic look for in an animation demo reel. 

Animal Logic is one of Australia's leading animation and VFX companies, responsible for global box office hits like the Oscar-nominated The Lego Movie. Other movie credits include Babe, Mouse Hunt, Face Off, The Matrix, Moulin Rouge, House of Flying Daggers, 300, The Great Gatsby, Happy Feet, Legend of the Guardians, and Walking with Dinosaurs 3D.

So, what is life like down under for animation and VFX graduates, and (most importantly) how can our animation graduates start their careers at Animal Logic?

Who are Animal Logic?
Animal Logic was established in 1991 in Sydney Australia. In 2015 they opened an animation studio in Vancouver - focusing on the Lego Movie sequel. They have around 500 employees in Sydney, and around 150 in Vancouver.

Recently they worked on Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Alien Covenant, and Lego Batman.

Where can you see Animal Logic's work?
You can see their work at Vimeo here.

Internships and entry level positions
Animal Logic don't offer international internships. They do however offer a number of entry level roles include Render Wranglers (these folks mostly become lighters), Technical Animators, Roto/Paint (a route into compositing) and Runners.

Sydney, Australia
Work visas
Holiday work visas are reasonably easy to get for UK nationals aged between 18 and 31. Don't be put off by the forms!

Demo Reel Tips
  • How long should reel be? Short, and to the point. Two minutes maximum. Animal Logic recently hired someone with a 20 second show reel - but they were 20 great seconds.
  • Only showcase your best work. If it isn't your best work - leave it out, or fix it. 
  • Playability: Make sure your work plays all all browsers - which means testing it out in different browsers before you email them the link. No DropBox or Google Drive - for internal security reasons Animal Logoc cannot access these. 
  • Host your work at Vimeo, or YouTube. 
  • Music: It's important to select music that complements your reel and isn't distracting.  
Modeling reels 
A modeling reel needs to include the reference you used to make the shot, so it's clear that the final model is accurate. You should also include a wireframe pass, turntables, environments, props and hard surfaces, and both character and creature modeling. Show a variety work, and show how you got there. Everyday, ordinary objects are good to include - better than fantasy creatures.

Patricia Kung at Escape Studios
If Animal Logic like your reel, expect that they may well ask you to do a test, to see how you get on.

Animation Reels
Animation reels should include a variety of character work, creature work, bipeds and quadrupeds.  They also need to see action shots, and lipsync. It's also a good idea to include a "process reel": this is a shot that shows your workflow, including thumbnail sketches, video reference you filmed, and your rough blocking animation. This "process reel" should show your whole animation  process and gives the animation supervisor confidence that you understand how animation works and you have a system in place for approaching your workflow.

Soft skills
Animal Logic look for good communicators. You need to be a team player, who is respectful of others, takes direction well, is motivated to keep learning new techniques and tools, and has realistic expectations of their job. Be nice to people on the way up - you don't know who you'll meet on the way down.

Animal Logic use plenty of off-the-shelf software, but they also have developed lots of in-house tools that newcomers will need to learn. An ability and willingness to learn new software is very important.

Volunteer at the big international events. You'll meet speakers, attend talks, and find out about the industry. CTN, FMX, Annecy, VIEW (Italy) and - of course - Escape Studios' very own VFX Festival.

Questions to ask yourself
  • Do you want to be a specialist or a generalist? Big studios tend to hire specialists. Smaller houses often hire generalists.
  • Studio size. Do you mind working in a big studio?
  • Do you like the idea of moving overseas? If not, don't apply! But remember - this is a global industry.
  • Do you mind working on temporary contract? Most of Animal Logic's contracts are project-based. Contracts for more than a year or so are rare.
Online Resources
Animal Logic recommend that students enter The Rookies. Animators should enter the 11 Second Club. Be on LinkedIn! Check the jobs pages, such as at Animation World Network.

Develop your personal work
Successful artists keep working on their own personal projects, even when they are doing client work. Don't lose sight of your own development as an artist.

Finally, check out Animal Logic's awesome Lego Movie demo reel below:

THE LEGO MOVIE - Animal Logic Animation Showreel from Animal Logic on Vimeo.

For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days, take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK.

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