I was laid off from my job at Trilogy Studios a few weeks ago. For people who know me, this isn’t news. Still, I thought it might be nice to share some of my thoughts on the whole Animation Industry / Getting-Laid-Off paradigm / Looking-For-Work cycle.
Being out of work is this weird combination of stress and freedom. Ostensibly I have tons of free time. I wake up in the morning and I have very few deadlines I have to worry about. I often think to myself, “Self,” I think, “You should take this time to do something creative. What about starting that web comic and/or animated series you’ve been thinking about? How about writing on your blog?” Fantastic ideas!
But then there’s the whole money/work thing. I currently have an income of zero, relying on unemployment insurance, my wife’s income, and savings. Definitely not a sustainable lifestyle. It’s vitally important, therefore, that I find a new job. Well, that severely diminishes my available time, and reduces the percentage of my thoughts that can be put toward creative endeavors.
As an example, one of the things I need to do is update my demo reel. Updating the resume was easy – just a new “work experience” entry, a few edits and adjustments, and it’s done. The reel is huge, though.
A demo reel should only be about a minute long. This is the advice I’ve always heard, and I absolutely believe in it. Having been “on the inside”, looking at applicants’ reels, I can attest that I know within seconds whether someone is a promising applicant when looking at their reel. If there’s mediocre stuff in the first few seconds it’s a big problem. The reel needs to show right off the bat what you’re capable of. Timing, weight, easing, acting, subtlety, expression, variety of style of movement – you pretty much want to show them that you understand and can apply the twelve principles for their characters. Remember that the employer doesn’t care about you – they care about what you can do for them!
To fulfill this requirement of a reel – that it shows the best that I have to offer – I pretty much have to go through all the animation I did in my recently lost job, as well as all that I did for my recently completed film, and find the best examples of my work, Then I have to take only the best few of those to actually add into the pool of clips I currently use in my reel. For the most part I’m going to trust my past decisions on what was worth including, since I really don’t want to have to go through all my old work again to figure out what was the best stuff. Actually, if I did that I might end up with a slightly better product, since time lends distance in judging one’s own work, but I really can’t face the tedium that that would entail.
So now I have a set of clips of animation that I created within the last few years, as well as older ones that I included in previous reel iterations. Now I have to decide what, among this combined collection of animated clips, is worth including in my finished reel. I’ll have to make some tough decisions to throw out some animation that I’m quite proud of, but that perhaps isn’t quite as good as some other clips.
Then comes the question of editing. Am I going to stick with the basic structure I had in my previous version or should I make a whole new edit? It’s kind of daunting to think about throwing all the clips together in a new and interesting way, but also refreshing. I’ve been looking at this demo reel (or variations of it) for four or five years now, and it would probably be nice to get something different going. I’m not sure yet what I’ll decide, but in theory you, the viewing public, will see the results soon enough.
If you’re interested, you can see my old demo reel on my main web site: www.pinkandaint.com. (Warning: that’ll probably soon be replaced with my updated demo reel after not-too-long)