Thursday, 10 March 2011

Creative Futures 2011

This is a review of the creative futures seminars that I attended during the 2011 conference at Glyndwr University Wrexham.

Animators Day

“Passion and a Passport, Barry Purves.”

This session was a review of Mr. Purvas’s career and his work, as well as the reason for his entering into the world of stop-motion animation. His first attempt to enter the entertainment industry was like most people through the world of acting but as he him self-say’s “my range was limited” so he switched to animation. Among the many things that he quotes as being an inspiration to entering into animation, he cites the puppet sequence from the movie ‘the sound of music’, 1965.

The majority of the work that he has produced is stop-motion animation as he feels that as an animator he is creating life with his machetes and characters, he has recently finished work on a French animation “Plume”, a short stop motion about a man with wings that has fallen into a shadow land and is attacked by the creatures that inhabit this land. Another film is the channel 4 short from the late 80’s called “NEXT” which is the complete works of Shakespeare in just under five minutes, produced for channel 4. As well as working in stop-motion animation he has also worked on major features along side artists such as Peter ‘Lord of the Rings’ Jackson on the re-visioning of King Kong.

Among the many loves Mr. Purves has he also loves the theatre, mainly the work of the national theatre in London, with the production of the stage adaptation of ‘War Horse’, which uses spring motion animation, in which you have the players and the animators both on stage at the same time, it’s similar to the stage play version of ‘Disney’s the Lion King’.

One of the key points of the session that I picked up on was his love of classical architecture and the moving form, be that buildings like the tower of London or works by the Royal Shakespeare Company, another point I feel that Mr. Purves enjoys is the idea of the play with in the play, and the example he gave in his talk was one of my personal favourites, the part of ‘Hamlet’ in which Hamlet has a group of travelling actors’ ‘players’ perform a play that re-creates the death of his father by his uncle.

The next sessions I attended were by the animator Ms. Harriet Buckley on her experiences as a professional animator and advice on producing a showreel, portfolio and CV for the animation industry.

“Life as a Professional animator, Harriet Buckley.”

This started off as a talk about her personal experiences in the animation industry and the work she has done, this though became a talk on what an animation company is looking for in a graduate, and the type of work that a new graduate can expect to do with in the industry. Among the many different things that an animation studio is looking for are:

* The ability to work as part of a team.

* Good communication skills.

* The ability to be able to compromise, and above all else the ability to be patient.

Although the session was on the working in the animation industry on both feature films and commercials, I felt that there was to much said on the side of getting that first job in the animation industry, that said I still enjoyed the session.

“Showreel, Portfolio and CV: advice for finding work, Harriet Buckley.”

This talk was again with Ms. Buckley and focused on the key points of entering the animation industry. These were as follows

* Business cards; with contact details

* Website; make sure it is up to date and functioning, there is nothing worse than saying you have a website and there being nothing on it or it still under construction.

* CV and showreel; tailored towards the company that is advertising and suited for the job you are going after: i.e. if the job states “2D hand drawn animator required” it is not a good idea to load out your showreel with lot’s of flash or 3D based work. Don’t two be brutal about the editing of your work for a showreel by worrying about sound, as most people watch a show reel with the sound turned off, not all so have sound but not over powering as it is the quality of the animated work that they are looking at.

* Personalise; this doesn’t mean make it look like your work, but to address it to the person in charge of recruitment.

When it comes to a portfolio Ms Buckley suggest that not to worry too much about having a style as it is your technical ability that the animation studios are looking for but it is always an excellent idea to have life drawing in your work, with a page or two of “hands, feet,” and “faces” in your work as these are considered the most technical components of the humanoid figure, a selection of prospective drawing and bodies, bones and structure.

As regards to size it is advisable to have an A4 with an extra copy to leave behind, this is so that they can see your work and it is easy for storage on a self in the office of the recruiter, and have it so that it reads easily so that there is nothing that you have explain in the interview.

Graphics and Illustrators day

On the second day of the conference I only attended two of the seminars, these were “Key Note: Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels” and “Working Class Hero, Middle Class W**ker”.

The first on which I attended was on the state the comic and graphic novel industry by Paul Gravett, or so I thought, it turned out to be a mixture of the state of that industry and a brief historical overview of comics, manga and graphic novels from their beginnings. This was quite an interesting lecture, if a bit rushed, but I did gain a list of potential companies to apply to as a storyboard artist or cover artists. I also found out information about self-publishing comics and a new form of comic’s ‘hyper-comics’.

Hyper-comics refer to a variation of webcomics, coming from the merging of the term hypertext with comics. While traditional comics have been posted on the internet as drawings scanned into digital media or even drawn entirely on computer, hyper-comics take advantage of the properties of their electronic existence to offer an experience that is impossible with traditional print comics.

This was followed by a talk by David Barraclough the creative director for Barraclough Associates of Manchester, about his path from a kid that grew up in Formby, Merseyside to his current role as creative designer of his own design and branding company, again with tips on how to approach a studio and tips on how to construct your cover letter and portfolio. Although the was a session that was aimed at the illustration and graphic design students there were some sections of the talk that I found applied to what ever area of art and design you are training in.

Skills set day ^^;

This day is normally the longest day of the conference, but this year rather than have a some one come in that knows nothing about the art and design process we actually had some one who knows are area, Sue Jefferies (wonder if she is any relation to Matt Jefferies who created the original 1960’s USS Enterprise for Star Trek) who is a producer director. Among the advice that she gave the group was not to worry about fitting into on mould but be able to work in multiple areas with in the same field of work; i.e. don’t just be a concept artist but be able to do story boards, concept art and set design. Also find about the company first and see if it is possible to “Shadow” a member of that company for a day or two to get a feel for the type of work they do.

I followed this with another talk on producing a CV for the creative industry, again with Ms Jefferies, in this we analyzed a number of real CV’s picking out the best sections of them to work out an appropriate layout for a CV.

After much discussion the following layout was found to the most successful for a creative person.

Name and Job title

Contact Details

Personal Profile – catchy but sounds as if you are the kind of person they are looking for

Skills Profile – media training

– general skills, communication, etc.

Personal details – don’t put date of birth as it is not required in the UK, Nationality if applying for work where you need a visa to work or gain entry to the country. State if you have a full driving licence and own car as this might be essential for working on a location shoot.

References – always state up on request, as this means that they have to ask you if it is all right for them to contact them and that you have up to date contact information for them.

And always be aware whom you are sending a CV to, it is no use sending a CV to some one looking for a production artists if your CV is tailored to being a sales assistant.

Once you have assembled your CV, have a friend proof read it for spellings and grammar, and always use a font size that is easily readable, i.e. size 12.

With cover letters and e-mails, Ms Jefferies suggests that, you never NEVER NEVER address them dear sir/ madam, or to whom it may concern, always send it to a person; i.e. Dear Ms. Jane Doe or Dear Mr. John Smith, as this personal touch is always welcome, and a bit of ego boosting is always good, I was very interested in the article/ production that was in/ on the television the other week [MAGAZINE/ PRODUCTION TTITLE] on [REFER TO THE ARTICLE/ PROGRAM]. Another point is to highlight your selling points/ how your CV meets there needs – flag up the relevant points in your CV, and prompt for further action; I’d welcome the chance to meet you, and remember to follow up within a week to ten days.

In the afternoon of the Skill set day I went to a talk from another ex student, Lee Carter, a free lance concept and comic artist, who talked about his work for Bizarre Creations on games ‘James Bond BloodStone’, and on a racer ‘Project Gotham Racer’, his work for Imagine FX magazine’s Q & A with an artist and the types of programs he uses and how the industry has changed since he started in it.

Among the advice in his talk he said how the copy and past short cuts was his friend and the importance of having a lot of reference photo’s, both digital and hard copies, and to be aware about lighting and sizing levels when it comes to printing your work for a portfolio.

After his talk I had the opportunity to show him my portfolio and get feed back and advice on it, although the work in my portfolio was not among my best he seemed to like it but advised that I learn to use programs such as Photoshop, Maya and Z-brush as well as the free to download program Sketchup from Google.

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