Laura Livingstone

Laura Livingstone is a VFX producer based in Los Angeles, originating from Ireland, she graduated from Trinity College, Dublin. Laura has 15 years experience in live action and post production for television, feature films, commercials, documentaries, apps and game cinematics, specializing in animation and visual effects.

In 2009 Laura made the change from solely feature film production to VFX production, haven taken in her own words “a crap course at university for two years.” This was after trying to make it in America- immediately asking for a job at ILM, stating she would need more experience. Impressed by her drive, they took her on. Below is her credentials for the following years, including Iron Man 2 and Looper.

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IMBD listings.

Laura is also a co-founder of the Irish Animation and VFX Summit LTD, and has invited us at VIP’s at the next summit (woohoo).

One of the main things I picked up on Laura’s talk was the skills that she said were necessary to be a producer. Organisation, people skills, making sure everyone had what they needed, knowing who was who to bring in necessary skills. I realised quickly that a lot of the things I do through my work in the Animation Society and Toody Threedy have a name- producing.

Talking to Laura really made me feel a bit calmer with the whole what I needed to do in my life- showing that I maybe could get a job doing something from the skills I have naturally.

 

 

Carlos Huante

Carlos Huante has worked as a character designer for film and the animation industry for 30 years, creating drawings from the ideas of the likes of Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg and Tim Burton.

As a character designer for Lucas Digital, Huante has invented characters for digital and live action features like War of the Worlds, Men in Black and Signs.

Working as a traditional sculptor and illustrator with biologists and the world-famous archeologist Robert Bakker, Haunte has also aided in recreation of full size Animatronic dinosaurs for museums worldwide- and a theme park in Kasaoka, Japan. He also helped develop the Treasure Island Hotel in Vegas- including illustrations, sculpted models and helped make two of the 13 foot sculpted entrance pieces.

Works credited on his website.

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Below are some his works- the ones that I liked the most (especially the Ultramorph).

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monkeyxp2

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Philip Campbell

Phil Campbell was a creative director of blockbuster interactive franchises James Bond, The Godfather and Tomb Raider, Campbell has been a designer for 20 years. Be it architecture, writing, game creation and freelance designer under the suitably mysterious banner of “The Design Engine” – and the rather more direct “Phil Campbell Design”. Now Phil is the co-founder of “Inlifesize”, a company dedicated to “Creating Digital experiences that matter to your REAL life…”

Phil works in “kick-starting the design process’ using a unique visual methodology to create and develop ideas. Working with companies like Lego, Electronic Arts, Sega, Marvel, Paramount, Sony and MTV – and entertainment icons like David Bowie and Marlon Brando – Phil has created concept and game designs on everything from entire buildings to smart phones.

Recent work includes new iterations of EA/Maxis favorites The Sims and Spore; writing dialogue for Marvel’s Iron Man and Thor; creating new games based on family favorites Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Snoopy; and developing a new generation of smart phone and iPad games with Glu Mobile.

Campbell holds an architecture degree from Oxford Brooke’s university, but, as he put it in his interview with us. He wanted to make buildings that would never stand- steering him towards the interactive side of the industry.

Below is the credentials from his CV- some of which are pretty awesome.

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Interview Prep- Company

The company I chose to apply for was Monkey Tennis animation, a lot of their work can be viewed on their website (viewable here).

Who are they?

Established in 2014, consisting of four men from Denmark, England and Switzerland, having all studied together at The Animation Workshop.

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The Founders.

The studio is located in the creative company cluster known was Arsenalet, right next to The Animation Workshop in Viborg Denmark.

They list kind of a goal of the company on their website;

We are very passionate about story, characters and innovation. And even more so; we are passionate about combining all of these elements in high quality productions that are as engaging, exciting and entertaining for an audience as they are for us to create. Monkey Tennis Animation Studio aspire to bring a unique blend of imagination, talent and humour to the worlds of animation, film, advertising, digital media and beyond. We know that all projects are unique with diverse and contrasting needs and we taylor our approach to each project individually(Monkeytennisanimation.com, 2017).

They have such different styles of work- due to collaborations with The Animation Company and with other studios. They encourage employees to bring their own unique style and look. Some of my favourite projects are below.

For a short animation for a TV spot for Freeview. Sculpts by Frederik Storm, more are viewable on his art station.

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For a short on renewable energy and sustainable farming.

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References

Monkeytennisanimation.com. (2017). Monkey Tennis Animation. [online] Available at: http://monkeytennisanimation.com [Accessed 10 Jan. 2017].

Showreel- What should I include?

Greg gave us a class on what we should include in a show reel- after evaluating other professional ones. Using the research he gave us, I wanted to look further into what I could do to make my showreel stand out.

I found an article at creativebloq.com that went through everything clearly., giving the below example as a basis of a good show reel.

Oliver Sin show reel. (Vimeo, 2016).

01. Cut ruthlessly

As head of international outreach at DreamWorks, Shelley Page says: “There’s no such thing as a student film that couldn’t do with editing.” Many student films take on too much, resulting in what one jaded recruiter describes as: “typically five minutes of poor animation on poorly rigged models in poor environments”.

“Don’t get attached to material that ultimately doesn’t showcase your best work, even though you have an emotional attachment to it,” stresses Patricia Kung, senior recruiter at Animal Logic.

Demo reels are about showcasing the strengths you have and accepting the skills your really have, for example trying to be a bad character animator when your skills lie in modelling.

 Or as Dave Throssell of Fluid Pictures says: “I don’t want to wade through a showreel where someone’s thrown in everything they’ve ever done.”

02. Keep it short

Look at the length of your show reel from a studio’s perspective, receiving an avalanche of applications every time a job opening occurs.

“Because we have to look at so many reels, we would recommend for them to be roughly one-and-a-half to two minutes in length,” says Claire Anderson of The Mill. “We don’t even always get all the way through, so I’d also say to put your best work at the beginning.”

03. Start and end well

Neil Gallagher, senior lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, suggests opening with your best work and then, just to ensure you don’t begin with a bang and end with a whimper, close with your second-best piece. Beyond that, if your third-favourite piece does in any way look second-rate, you might want to consider whether it really belongs on the reel at all.

04. Think of it as an advertisement

Try thinking of each piece show reel as an advert, the product (material) being sold to the employer.

05. Match your reel to the vacancy/studio

Research the company you are applying to, and tailor the reel to the position applying for.The reel should demonstrate you can do the work the company is known for, but don’t put things in for the sake of it.

“Some people don’t even know what job they’re applying for,” says Trond Greve Andersen, co-owner of MIR Visuals, which specialises in architectural visualization. “There’s not much point in a studio like ours looking at models of orcs.”

06. Make your role clear

“In the case of group work, it’s important to explain what the student has created,” says Neil Gallagher. “Either indicate this in the video when there are group pieces, or provide a breakdown as a PDF or Word document.”

07. Show your workings

What you’ve created speaks for itself to an extent, but people will want to know how you did it too. “Provide a shot breakdown, showing what your contribution was and the software used,” says Patricia Kung. “If you’re applying for a technical role, it shows you have a good creative eye too.”

08. Keep things simple

“You see far too many animators trying to build their own five-minute Avatar, and they end up getting so sidetracked by everything else that the actual animation becomes the last thing they do,” says Andrew Daffy of The House of Curves.

“By contrast, I always remember the story of one the guys who became a key animator on [the BBC TV series] Walking with Dinosaurs. His reel was about a minute and-a-half long, and it was a five second sequence that got him hired. All it showed was a stick figure. It was even badly rendered but the body language was so perfectly animated.”

09. Technique beats orginality

Demo reels need some flair, but never at the expense of basic skills. “If it’s a choice between originality and technical quality, again I’d go for something that was simple and done well,” says Throssell.

10. Clichés to avoid

Some CG cliches should be avoided if possible. “If there’s one thing that makes my heart sink, it’s a demo with spaceships,” sighs Joylon Webb, R&D Art Director at Blitz Games Studios Ltd. “They’re usually textured cylinders that don’t display any modelling skills: you can’t see weight, they don’t interact with surfaces, they don’t display composition, and they’re a cliché that has been done for 20 years.” Other clichés to avoid in general include dragons, robots, cameras endlessly flying round sets and worlds populated by supermodels and manga heroes.

 “There’s nothing wrong with putting a dragon on your showreel, so long as it has an original design or looks like it stepped straight out of a Harry Potter movie,” points out Andrew Daffy. “The work can’t look at all corny. It needs to be quite sophisticated, or at least handled really well.”

 

References

Vimeo. (2016). Oliver Sin Reel 2013. [online] Available at: https://vimeo.com/67940415 [Accessed 23 Dec. 2016].

Further CV Research After Critic

So, we had our CV’s evaluated by Greg today. I have to really re-evaluate mine, in terms of content. I have far to much writing. I decided by researching exactly what I really should say in a CV would help me cut down on my information. Also, adjusting to a simplified layout would help with this.

How to write a CV

What is a CV?

CV is short for Curriculum Vitae, Latin for course of life. It is a summary of your experience, skills and education.

How long should a CV be?

Ideally, a CV should be no more than 2 sides of an A4 page. However, Greg suggested sticking to one page, as employers tend to not read in detail- only searching for key words.

What should be included in a CV?

Contact details- name, address, mobile phone number and email address.

Education- list and date, previous education, any professional qualifications.

Referees- two people who can provide positive comments on your previous employment or experiences

Skills- for example, ability to work in a team, manage people, customer service, skills or specific IT skills.

Work Experience- this can be internships, voluntary roles or previous jobs.

What should I leave out?

The term curriculum vitae or resume- CV suffice in the UK

A photo- unless applying for an acting or modelling job

Date of birth or place of birth- this is unnecessary and can lead to identity theft

I found all this information in an old book my mum had lying in the house- when she went for her own job interviews! I  am going to help this guide my new CV layout and look- which I will talk about more.

Changing my CV layout

I decided to also look at more shapely CVs i.e. CV’s that follow a more block structure. I really liked the layout used in both Andrew Coyles and Christian’s from last year.

christ.jpgChristian Johnson’s CV. (CLOY TOONS, 2016).

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Andrew Coyle’s CV. (CLOY TOONS, 2016).

Here is my own CV, fixing it to match some of the layouts. There are some things I will like to fix in it- the alignment feels boring right now.

References

CLOY TOONS. (2016). cloytoons. [online] Available at: https://cloytoons.wordpress.com/author/cloytoons/ [Accessed 20 Dec. 2016].

Power Words- Research

Power Words

Greg mentioned these words before, and after some critic on my CV he suggested I revisit these words – so I wanted to include a small directory on them

Most bullet points start with the same words such as managed, handled and led. These same old tired words are boring and have lost a lot of the real meaning, when talking about accomplishments. Switching up a few of these common words with strong and compelling action phrases will catch possible employer’s minds. These words are known as Power Words.

Below is a list of how to switch different words

You Led a Project

If you were in charge of a project or initiative from start to finish, skip “led” and instead try:

1. Chaired

2. Controlled

3. Coordinated

4. Executed

5. Headed

6. Operated

7. Orchestrated

8. Organized

9. Oversaw

10. Planned

11. Produced

12. Programmed

You Envisioned and Brought to Life a Project

And if you actually developed, created, or introduced that project into your company? Try:

13. Administered

14. Built

15. Charted

16. Created

17. Designed

18. Developed

19. Devised

20. Founded

21. Engineered

22. Established

23. Formalized

24. Formed

25. Formulated

26. Implemented

27. Incorporated

28. Initiated

29. Instituted

30. Introduced

31. Launched

32. Pioneered

33. Spearheaded

You Saved the Company Time or Money

Hiring managers love candidates who’ve helped a team operate more efficiently or cost-effectively. To show just how much you saved, try:

34. Conserved

35. Consolidated

36. Decreased

37. Deducted

38. Diagnosed

39. Lessened

40. Reconciled

41. Reduced

42. Yielded

You Increased Efficiency, Sales, Revenue, or Customer Satisfaction

Along similar lines, if you can show that your work boosted the company’s numbers in some way, you’re bound to impress. In these cases, consider:

43. Accelerated

44. Achieved

45. Advanced

46. Amplified

47. Boosted

48. Capitalized

49. Delivered

50. Enhanced

51. Expanded

52. Expedited

53. Furthered

54. Gained

55. Generated

56. Improved

57. Lifted

58. Maximized

59. Outpaced

60. Stimulated

61. Sustained

You Changed or Improved Something

So, you brought your department’s invoicing system out of the Stone Age and onto the interwebs? Talk about the amazing changes you made at your office with these words:

62. Centralized

63. Clarified

64. Converted

65. Customized

66. Influenced

67. Integrated

68. Merged

69. Modified

70. Overhauled

71. Redesigned

72. Refined

73. Refocused

74. Rehabilitated

75. Remodeled

76. Reorganized

77. Replaced

78. Restructured

79. Revamped

80. Revitalized

81. Simplified

82. Standardized

83. Streamlined

84. Strengthened

85. Updated

86. Upgraded

87. Transformed

You Managed a Team

Instead of reciting your management duties, like “Led a team…” or “Managed employees…” show what an inspirational leader you were, with terms like:

88. Aligned

89. Cultivated

90. Directed

91. Enabled

92. Facilitated

93. Fostered

94. Guided

95. Hired

96. Inspired

97. Mentored

98. Mobilized

99. Motivated

100. Recruited

101. Regulated

102. Shaped

103. Supervised

104. Taught

105. Trained

106. Unified

107. United

You Brought in Partners, Funding, or Resources

Were you “responsible for” a great new partner, sponsor, or source of funding? Try:

108. Acquired

109. Forged

110. Navigated

111. Negotiated

112. Partnered

113. Secured

You Supported Customers

Because manning the phones or answering questions really means you’re advising customers and meeting their needs, use:

114. Advised

115. Advocated

116. Arbitrated

117. Coached

118. Consulted

119. Educated

120. Fielded

121. Informed

122. Resolved

You Were a Research Machine

Did your job include research, analysis, or fact-finding? Mix up your verbiage with these words:

123. Analyzed

124. Assembled

125. Assessed

126. Audited

127. Calculated

128. Discovered

129. Evaluated

130. Examined

131. Explored

132. Forecasted

133. Identified

134. Interpreted

135. Investigated

136. Mapped

137. Measured

138. Qualified

139. Quantified

140. Surveyed

141. Tested

142. Tracked

You Wrote or Communicated

Was writing, speaking, lobbying, or otherwise communicating part of your gig? You can explain just how compelling you were with words like:

143. Authored

144. Briefed

145. Campaigned

146. Co-authored

147. Composed

148. Conveyed

149. Convinced

150. Corresponded

151. Counseled

152. Critiqued

153. Defined

154. Documented

155. Edited

156. Illustrated

157. Lobbied

158. Persuaded

159. Promoted

160. Publicized

161. Reviewed

You Oversaw or Regulated

Whether you enforced protocol or managed your department’s requests, describe what you really did, better, with these words:

162. Authorized

163. Blocked

164. Delegated

165. Dispatched

166. Enforced

167. Ensured

168. Inspected

169. Itemized

170. Monitored

171. Screened

172. Scrutinized

173. Verified

You Achieved Something

Did you hit your goals? Win a coveted department award? Don’t forget to include that on your resume, with words like:

174. Attained

175. Awarded

176. Completed

177. Demonstrated

178. Earned

179. Exceeded

180. Outperformed

181. Reached

182. Showcased

183. Succeeded

184. Surpassed

185. Targeted

How to Write a Cover Letter

How to Write a Cover Letter

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a personal introduction, letting you speak to a company to suggest why you are suitable for the positioned advertised. It should include and highlight skills and experience in relation to the job.

The Cover letter should complement the CV- it is the first contact with an employer and ultimately how they decide who to contact for an interview.

Why is it necessary?

Cover letters allow you to give a snapshot to an employer as to why you are the best candidate for a role. The goal is to show how and why you fit the criteria, without having them refer to your CV.

Cover letters allow you to grab the attention from the very beginning.

How long should it be?

It is best to keep a cover letter to a page- 3/5 paragraphs at the most. A survey showed what employers like length wise in a cover letter:

19% – full page

46% – half a page

11% – no preference

24% – preferred shorter

What structure should it have?

First paragraph- why you are writing: who you are: include job applying for and mention objective

Second paragraph- touch on the company- why you want to work there. Show your knowledge and passion for the job/ position.

Third paragraph – highlight relevant skills and experience (as listed in the CV). Summarise strengths you have.

Fourth (final) paragraph- round off the letter, thanking the employer for the time and saying you look forward to hearing from them.

Cover letter tips

  • Keep it short and sweet. Cut down flowery language and unnecessary detail. Employers just want to know why you want and how you are suitable for a job.
  • Tailor the cover letter- “If you wear many hats… you’ll need to hang up a few of them when applying for sector- specific roles.” It is important to know what to include and what to leave out. Ensure to emphasise the skills and experience relevant to the job.
  • Make it unique- don’t use generic terms like “hello, my name is .. and I’m applying for…” as this can be boring. Show them that you put in the time and effort and they’ll appreciate it.
  • Keep the language professional- casual towns are ill advised in cover letters. Avoid using colloquialisms, regional slang or awkward jargon to yourself. To ensure a better understanding, use clear and concise terms and try to maintain a formal professional tone throughout.
  • Make is fool proof- proofread with an eagle eye. Have someone look over for spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Down to basics- remember things like your address, telephone number and email. Exclude things such as age, gender and marital status- these can cause bias.

Examples of some cover letters- for Production jobs. Below are some of the cover letters I looked at for wording and general layout.

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Cover letters for Production Assistant positions. (Decorationoption.com, 2016)

Below is my first cover letter attempt. I will update it with my interview with Alec next week.

References

Decorationoption.com. (2016). Cover Letter Production Assistant Cover Letter Written Template Retail Assistant This Is A Suggestion And An Example For Those Who Want To Write This Is The Easiest Production Assistant Cover Letter Film Production Assistant Resume. Production Assistant Cover Letter Sample. Video Production Cover Letter Examples.. [online] Available at: http://decorationoption.com/this-is-the-easiest-production-assistant-cover-letter/production-assistant-cover-letter-written-template-retail-assistant-this-is-a-suggestion-and-an-example-for-those-who-want-to-write/ [Accessed 20 Dec. 2016].

Interview Question Preparation

What do I need to bring?

Greg supplied us with this really good document called selling yourself– I used it to help write my answers to my interview questions and also plan my cv, showreel etc.

  1. A Show Reel or Portfolio- done
  2. A Web Site- done
  3. A CV- done
  4. A Cover Letter- to do

Questions.

Tell us a little bit about yourself / Why have you applied for the job?

My name is Rebecca, I am 20 and am currently a student studying in second year of a BA Hons Animation Degree.

I applied for this job as I am a natural talker and I hope encourager. I love pushing peoples ideas forward that I think will go somewhere, reaching out to people to do this. I see so many awesome peoples work get wasted as they were too shy to bring it up- I act as that middle ground.

My love for communication has lead me to making a good few connections since my time at my degree, from people working at ILM, MPC, Rock* games, students at other universities like Bournemouth, and directors such as Duke Johnson and Seamus McGarvey. I like to know the why of things- why did they use this programme, why did he chose the lighting like this, before I devil into the how itself.

I am also well organised and used to handling communication. Becoming President of the Animation society this year has given me even more confidence and a bit more regularity when running events. I oversee and run all steps of the event- for example we took 33 students to the Dublin Animation film festival and I organised the bus, took the money, got any necessary funding I needed. Everyone kept saying how it must have been like a burden or a lot of stress, but it wasn’t- it felt natural.

Have them play back their reel or show their portfolio

N/A

What part of your reel/portfolio did you find the most challenging?

Lighting- I have always struggled with it- from the positions of lights, the intensity etc. However, I am definitely feeling a lot more confident in it now, given the different tutorials and instruction from classmates. Lighting makes a scene, and though I may not be a lighter, I want to be able to understand it a little.

What do you believe are your strengths?

I’m not a shy person- I will ask for help or guidance rather than sitting in the dark- I was class rep in first year and was always the one mailing tutors to clarify details- rather have it correct the first time than last.

I am determined- I will not give up. I will get there eventually.

What do you believe are your weaknesses?

 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years / What do you ultimately end up doing?

I would love to be a producer, working over a series of different smaller companies, pumping their work to the world. I would love to do this in Belfast, the animation and film sector is thriving here at the moments, and I believe the market for 3D is about to expand even more and I would love to be a part of this,

Have you any questions for us?

– do you guys do a lot of collaboration works- I noticed on your website you have multiple projects, some as part of animation workshops etc will this be common

-you also advertise a pitches and development service- helping strategies target audience and the general art direction for further production- have you ever kept on any of these clients for further projects?

Cover Letter- Draft One

I have made a rough cover letter to try and figure out what I want to say to the companies I would love to work at.

Dear INSERT NAME,

I am currently an animation student at Ulster University, reaching out for the opportunity to work for your company in my placement year. I want to offer my skills to you- show you what we are being taught and how it could effect your future employees, allowing me to adapt these to best suit you.

I find your company is an excellent match for how I work- though I am an adaptable person in this area too. I am well driven, ready to learn new things, beneficial for new projects and even ongoing ones. I am able to apply all of these skills in teamwork, an area that I excel in. I am a social person, used to networking with the public and other companies, in turn this would help aid the growth of your own company.

Please find my attached resume and contact information, and I hope that you find me a suitable candidate for working with you .

I look forward to your response,

Many thanks,

Rebecca Blair