What did it take for you to move from a small studio to AAA?

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Swaggletooth polycounter lvl 3
Hey guys, as the topic says I'm wondering what it took for those of you to move from a small studio to a bigger (typically AAA) one. I've been working in a small studio for a while now, but I still find myself coming up against that catch-22 issue of needing AAA experience to land a first job.

Was it a lengthy service (2+ years?) that helped you move over; networking; or really polishing up your portfolio?

I'd be interested to hear about people's experiences, even if it's just for something to keep in mind for long term direction it's still way better to have a clear direction to head towards.


  • slipsius
    For me, I started in a small indie studio. they only hired people straight out of school, so everyone was junior. I was the only animator for a long time, so i wasn't learning as much as i wanted or needed to get into AAA. I started taking online classes at night to imrpove my skills and learn from industry vets. I took classes at animation mentor, ianimate, and animschool. There are courses just like it for other job titles though. You can do online classes for modelling and what not. 

    I was at that indie studio 3 years before i got into AAA. How I got that job was because i took those classes. Not just the skills it gave me, but the networking. I created a skype group for the game animators, and someone else doing feature film animation, asked to join because they worked in a AAA game studio. Kept in contact and became friends with him. A year later, they were hiring and he thought of me. 

    My next job (my current job), they said they liked that i had so much education. It showed that i continued my learning even after i got a job. But it was also networking that i did years before. Met someone at an industry event in my area, added him to facebook. Kept in contact, mostly just liking their posts about the industry, or commenting. So when my demo reel came across their desk, they remembered my name. I met that person probably 3 or 4 years before that, while i was working at the first indie studio. 
  • Swaggletooth
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    Swaggletooth polycounter lvl 3
    That's quite an interesting idea actually...

    Right now I'm in a similar position, and whilst I have been learning from youtube tutorials that's a pretty solo activity (and doesn't really add anything to your CV). I've heard a lot of people talk about Gnomon, is that the best bet for out of hours courses?

    Thanks for the reply =]
  • Swaggletooth
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    Swaggletooth polycounter lvl 3
    Man, that's the thing right there!

    I mean I'm glad I have the job I have right now, there's things I've learned in either 5 minutes or half a day and they the difference those small things make is immense. I just need to cover my bases with my portfolio (it's most frustrating when I get asked to show something simple and you don't have anything on hand for it), it's just getting past the gatekeeper so I can land in the right place and learn whatever tricks are needed... in half a day or whatever.

    Well, at least it's good to know I haven't been wasting time pushing forward with my portfolio! Aiming to outdo the assets made by the studios I want to work for seems like a great idea too; an online course would be better to look at further down the line maybe.

    These make for really inspiring reads, thanks so much guys!

    *Oh, and thankfully I live in the UK so there are at least plenty of places I can apply to.
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