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New Artist/Animator looking for advice...

Hey, I'll give you a little background first.

I graduated from Uni a couple of years ago. Since then I have worked on a Mod and done some freelance work for an upstart company that got killed by this bad economy.
So now without any real experience on my CV, I have been applying for Jobs in the industry for a couple of months now, and have had very little interest.

I was wondering if you kind fellows could lend some advice, and give me some critiques and feedback on my Reel and Portfolio and to see if there is any glaring errors that I am Making. Also I'm finding it hard to know what I should focus on improving. you can find links to these here :http://web.mac.com/madnorman/Site/Folio.html




  • jocose
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    jocose polycounter lvl 11
    PDFs are EVIL! It took me almost a full minute to get one of your PDFs to load. I almost thought my browser was gong to crash. I would get your stuff out of PDFs for starters.

    Also only show your BEST work. It seams as though you have have shown your entire process for every single project (at least in the pdf I looked at). Showing your process is good and all, but you don't need to do it for everything. I would pick your strongest pieces and perhaps show some of the development work you did for it, but aside form that keep things very simple.

    Those who are hiring usually know what they are looking for and can spot it from a mile away. You don't need to overhwelm them with everything you have ever done. If you show your strongest pieces up front it will hook them if it's somthing they are intrested in. Then if they have questions they will ask.

    As far as your work goes it's okay. I think your texture and lighting are your weakest points.

    Your models are pretty well done in terms of topology. I think some are much better than others. Once again you may want to consider getting rid of some of the weaker ones.

    I hope that helps.

    It's nice to see you have such a diverse skill set but it doesn't seams your are extremely prefeicent in any one of them. Many companies today are looking for cogs to put into thier giant development machines. If you don't fit the part perfectly it can be hard to get a job even if you are an amazing generalist.
  • MRico
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    MRico polycounter lvl 10
    I don't even know what your work looks like...it took to long for the .pdf to load that I exited out...maybe that's what the hiring managers are doing?
  • dyf
    agreed with those guys..

    in the demo reel, you showed a lot of the desk lamp model (almost half the video).. to be honest, it's not impressive enough to get the attention of a potential employer..
    also, if you're not gonna render most of the reel, at least make it look good in real-time rendering..
    (no hard feelings, only my honest critiques)
  • CrazyMatt
    If you're going for games pick a specialty. If you're going for film, you can expand you're horizons a bit but still pick a specialty.

    I cannot see what you are trying to promote yourself as, though my guess would be a storyboard artist?
    Make a gallery in the html that we can look at (screenshots). If you want to pdf anything, let that be only you're resume.
  • Mark Dygert
    Welcome to polycount!

    1st, this probably belongs in P&P?

    2nd, I agree with everything above.
    I like some of the rigging and modeling nice work =)
    You've got a lot of the technical hurdles taken care of.

    3rd, <<!! INCOMING WALL-O'-TEXT !!>>

    At the risk of sounding like a dick I'm going to rip this whole thing apart. Hopefully you won't take offense if you do, that's not my intent.

    The splash page
    - Make the whole button the button not just the text.
    - Honestly you shouldn't have a splash page it should be a gallery or at the very least examples of your art in the buttons, not generic blood splatter.

    The Animation Overall
    - Is stiff, lacking weight. It is very robotic, move to pose, stop move to pose stop, very little overlap. Pretty poor timing and anticipation. Not really film quality yet. Observation is key, you need to study things, how they move and react.

    Lack of Reference

    People know how things should move and react. They've had a lifetime of recording and reviewing motion, they can't always break it down for you but they know when it doesn't match up to what the expect to see. If they're dragging all of that reference to the viewing, you should be dragging a bigger pile to your work bench.

    Observation is key. So much reference floating around in real life and on the web mine it for all its worth.

    - The speed he hits the ground is almost the same speed he stands up. He falls out of the sky in a crouched pose. Robbing the landing of the impact. If you stretch the body out before impact then you get to squash it down when it impacts, hold the landing for a few frames let its impact settle in. Maybe shake the camera, and then have him pick himself up. It will give the character a lot of the weight he is missing. There is a lot to be said for studying half a dozen bouncing ball tutorials and applying that to your characters in almost all their motion.

    - When he runs, its like there aren't bones in his toes, only his heels?

    - Lots of flex or some kind of secondary motion on things, while that can look cool on things like his chest, it looks weird on muscles like the calves, the wiggle and dance around but they're muscles that are being used, very odd.

    - A lot of up and down motion on the head.

    The Zombie

    - Missing a bone for the toes. Or if its there it isn't animated.

    Computer guy vs Cat
    - The light switch flip could use a finger/wrist flick, it looks like you just animated the arm up? Need to capture more motion than just that.
    - Very little animation going on in his eyes, no blinks or eye tracking when he's typing. When turns and is surprised his eyes react really quickly and then hustles back to root really fast, it would be fine to leave it shocked as it switches shots.
    - The cat slides along with very little up and down action while the legs make contact. Study cats running.
    This break down is pretty helpful, found it by typing "cat running" into youtube, imagine what you could find with a little effort?

    Sad little alien
    - Again with the toes.
    - The feet snap and pop kind of oddly, not sure if that was on purpose? If it was the rest of the body doesn't really react the same way, there isn't any snap in his up and down movement, the hands glide along with no snap. None of it is really flowing to the overall motion of the character.

    Luxo Jr.
    - So famous, so thoroughly memorized by everyone. It was also done ages ago... but done really well that only really the lighting shows its age. With something so famous, if you're going to recreate some of their oldest stuff you need to update it to the level they are doing now and probably blow it away, do something different or at least faithfully recreate it.

    - The modeling on the lamp is off, base is too big, springs and arm joints are too thin and whispy to lug that heavy base around.
    Look at luxo. His motion doesn't appear to come from no where his springs the bends in his armature it all displays motion really well. The modeling says so much about the lamps personality. The base is small telling you that he's probably quicker and more agile than his bigger counter part. There is a lot more there to learn just in a still shot, but learning that on your own is key.
    - The ball, moves like a bowling ball and does not react approximately to the way its textured or the way the lamp pushes it.
    - The bouncing on the ball is great.
    - The fall not so much, same speed/collision problem the ogre has. The lamp hits the ground and has very little impact. The highly flexible base becomes very rigid.

    Recommended reading:
    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Animators-Survival-Kit-Richard-Williams/dp/0571202284/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b"]The Animators Survival Kit[/ame] (Must read)
    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Acting-Animation-Look-12-Films/dp/0325007055"]Acting in Animation: A look at 12 films[/ame] (strongly suggest reading)
    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Illusion-Life-Disney-Animation/dp/0786860707/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b"]The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation[/ame] (Suggested reading)
    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Stop-Staring-Facial-Modeling-Animation/dp/0471789208/ref=pd_sim_b_8"]Stop Staring [/ame](Written for maya, translates easily to Max)
    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Animation-Book-Complete-Filmmaking-Flip-Books/dp/0517886022/ref=pd_sim_b_9"]The Animation Book[/ame] (helpful)

    But a lot of those are books about 2D, I'm a 3D guy!?

    Don't ignore the lessons of 2D animators they have a lot to teach the world of 3D. Most have little difficulty crossing back and forth and often say its the same result, just different tools.

    You're to the point where you need to work on being an animator not just demonstrating that you know the technical ins and outs of the software. This next step you're about to take is a great one, its full of eye opening experiences and really brings the magic and life to your characters. You've figured out how to make them move, but its time to make them act.

    This is where you either walk away in a fog and go do something else or it lifts and you spend the rest of 09 learning the other 75% of animation and put it to good use.
  • Flynny
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    Flynny polycounter lvl 9
    I do believe Vig is owed 1hours pay for his post/crit lol.

    Il add a point that perhaps hasnt been said, for the animation part theres no point trying to do long animations, get a bouncing ball done, but really well!
    Do an amazing walk cycle, rinse repeat for months and you will improve loads!

    In 6 months time aim to have a reel that has mebe 3-4 pieces that your happiest with lasting no longer than 30-40 seconds total, put your best piece 1st and 2nd best last.
  • madN0RMan
    Thanks Guys...

    First of how do I move this thread over to P&P?

    Second, thanks for all your feedback so far. And a special thanks to Vig for that great crit!
    I will just make some excuses first. The computer guy was my uni final major project and i got far too carried away with trying to make a 'film' than concentrating on demonstrating my skills to get a job. Sadly this was the focus of my course, and the technical side was totally ignored. Leaving me to focus on learning MEL and character rigging in maya all on my own. Something I greatly underestimated.
    Now I finally feel I have a good technical understanding that I can create technically solid rigs that do exactly what I want when animating. I have recently re-modelled and Re-Rigged the Lamp and intend to re-animate this piece, as well as working on a more thorough Human character rig with the Old Man, that is still in the rigging stage...

    Click for full size - Uploaded with plasq's Skitch

    Flynny - I think you summed up what I should focus on from now on. Not the story, just the animation. Polish that up so I'm not selling myself short. Also a question - Should I leave the technical stuff in there?

    Thanks again,
  • Flynny
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    Flynny polycounter lvl 9
    madN0RMan wrote: »
    Flynny - I think you summed up what I should focus on from now on. Not the story, just the animation. Polish that up so I'm not selling myself short. Also a question - Should I leave the technical stuff in there?

    Thanks again,

    Quit trying to rig and trying to learn Mel, its not much use at this stage. I myself had the exact same experiance as you at Uni, and your doing the exact same thing i did after i left Uni ;D

    Start looking at Maya as just a tool, a pencil if you will, stop wasting time trying to learn everything because unless your only pursuit is to just make films for yourself your going about it the wrong way.

    In this industry your competiting with people who will probably only ever know 20% of maya max etc. But they will know it bloody well and they wont of bothered with the rest, thats why they have there job. Im sure its the exact same for artists ;D

    Im only just learning to rig and learn Mel myself now, a year after i felt comfy with Maya and tbh il be damned if i ever learn to model, everytime i break a model in a scene il go grab an artist to sort it ;D

    Sidetracked slightly but basically go grab a free popular rig off the internet join http://www.11secondclub.com/ and enter every month i gaurantee after 6 months of pure animating youl feel awesome.

    damn i cant believe my reel is almost 2 years old >< its embarrassing.
  • ericdigital
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    ericdigital polycounter lvl 13
    Until I read this thread, I thought Film and Print meant Film work you have done, and print work you have done(magazine layouts etc) so I completely skipped both of those buttons and started clicking randomly until I gave up. Then I finally realized it meant demo reel or an extremely slow loading .pdf. So maybe you might want to rename those buttons to something like. Demo Reel and Portfolio or something more clear!
  • CheeseOnToast
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    CheeseOnToast greentooth
    Vig pretty much summed up all the crits I was going to make. In addition, it looks like you have some kind of IK popping problems in some of the walk cycles.

    I would say that the strongest part of your folio seemed to be the rigging, so you may want to consider applying for technical artist/rigger positions specifically. It really has to be something you're interested in doing though....rigging full-time is a lot of artists' idea of hell.

    Specialise your folio into discreet chunks. If you want to model, make a modelling reel. Likewise, if animation's your thing, make a dedicated animation reel etc. etc. Don't try to be a jack of all trades, at least this early in your career.
  • JacqueChoi
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    JacqueChoi polycounter
    Blunt answer is this (pretty much reiterating everything):

    Your storyboards are pretty good, you obviously have strong drawing skills, and I really believe those can translate to good modelling/texturing skills with enough practice. I would highly recommend focusing on those aspects, and using a simple 3-point lighting, and screenshots rather than PDF.

    Focus your energy on being a modeller/texture artist.

    You know how animation works but you're FAR from being an animator. Your animations are distractingly bad, that it's bringing down everything else.

    There's 12 Principals of animation (as Vig brought is the highlight points in The Illusion of Life), that you need to know like the back of your hand, which you clearly have no familiarity with.

    It's almost like a character modeller not knowing anatomy, or a concept artist not knowing colour theory.

    As EVERYONE has already mentioned in this thread, become a specialist in something.
  • Mark Dygert
    I totally agree the The 12 principles of animation are very important.

    But they are a little dated. They where not handed down on stone tablets. They came from 9 old Disney animators that came up with the concepts and names more or less out of necessity.

    For 3D 8, 10, 11, 12, are often out of the control of the animator or automated.
  • madN0RMan
    Thanks everyone for you feedback... I have moved this over to P&P - http://boards.polycount.net/showthread.php?p=981274#post981274

    I will continue posting updates there...

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