I’m not sure if anybody reads my blog, but I thought I would update those who do on the new happenings in my life since graduating CCA. I just put up a new post about my last two semesters at CCA, so check out CCA Wrap-Up if you want to find out the juicy details.
2012 was a pretty rough year for me. I finished up my last classes at CCA in December 2011. I was really excited to move back down to LA and get my foot back in to the industry. My whole purpose for going back to school was to improve my animation skills and try to make it in to feature films. My last 2 semesters of school were really challenging. I was burning the candle at both ends trying to work on my thesis film along with trying to get new pieces done for my reel. Ultimately, I just ended up with a bunch of unfinished work. When I got back to LA, I took a little time to unwind and recuperate from an extremely stressful final semester. I got back to work polishing up my unfinished projects from CCA. After about a month or two, I compiled a new reel and started sending it out to studios, mostly to the feature studios and commercial/FX houses because I was hoping to break away from video games. Thus began the dreaded waiting game, the most stressful part of the job hunt process. Coming out of school, I was unaware of how ultra-competitive the job market have become. In my previous two professional jobs, I wasn’t really looking for the job, they just happened. I knew somebody at the studio, they were looking for people and I got recommended. This was really my first time officially job hunting. The industry has changed tremendously in the past 5 years. The amount of students studying animation and coming into the job market has grown exponentially. That combined with all of the studio closures and layoffs has caused a massive overflow of talent all competing for the same jobs. The real eye opener for me was in July, when I went to the VES (Visual Effects Society) career fair. All of the big studios were there and the amount of people trying to turn in reels and resumes to them was incredible. I stood in line for nearly 3 hours just to talk to a recruiter at Disney. Granted, not all the people there were animators, but it seemed like the majority of people I talked to were. After event, I realized that I needed to widen my prospects and try to find a job, hopefully animating, whether it was in games, commercials, web or film. Throughout the year, I had quite a few interviews and did a bunch of animation tests for game studios, but nothing fell into place.
While the job hunt was going on, I still continued to work on my reel. In March, I decided to enter the 11 Second Club competition. They had a really cool audio clip from Breaking Bad and I thought it would be a great opportunity to create some fresh material for my reel. I spent about 3 weeks working on it (2 weeks animating & 1 week scene prep/rendering) and I was fairly happy with how it turned out in the end. I turned it in on the last day of March and hoped for the best. I participated in the voting process and was surprised at how many entries there were. I guess at that point, it was the most entries received for any of their contests. There were a ton of really strong entries and so I was hoping that I could make it into the top 10. The morning the results were released, I went to the site and was in total shock… My entry was on the front page! That was one of the greatest feelings, to be recognized for my work, my passion that I have been working so hard to improve. I was amazed at the amount of people that reached out to me in the weeks that followed, whether it was folks saying Congrats or asking me how I did something in the shot. I also got asked to do a few interviews. One was for the 11 Second Club blog and the other for AnimSchool.com’s Blog. I had used their school rig they released to the public, Malcolm, in my entry and they asked if I could talk a little about my shot and using Malcolm. I felt extremely honored that people wanted to find out about my process and my thoughts on animation. Needless to say, winning gave me a huge confidence boost moving forward. It gave me hope that I might able to find work soon.
My winning 11 Second Club Entry – “Hindsight is Always 20/20”
When fall rolled around, I was beyond discouraged. I had been applying to whatever animation job I could find, anywhere I could find them. In late October, I applied for a contract animator position to work on a feature project. I hadn’t heard back from the studio, so I assumed they passed on me. One day, an email popped into my inbox asking me if I was still available and if I could come to Albuquerque for the project. I can’t express what emotions were going through my mind. I was overjoyed, relieved, excited, and anxious all at the same time. Naturally, I replied back right away and accepted the job. So, now, I have been here in Albuquerque at PivotVFX for the past two months. I am still in disbelief that I have actually achieved what I set out to do way back in 2002 when I started learning how to animate. It’s been a long road to get here, but I am happy that I persevered and didn’t give up hope.
So far, I am really enjoying my job. It has been really challenging and I have been learning a ton since I got here. I have the pleasure to be working directly under animation director, David Tart. He has been in the industry for a long time and has been sharing a wealth of knowledge with all of us here. I work with a great group of very talented and friendly animators. Oddly enough, we are all AM grads. It’s definitely true that it is a very small industry. Albuquerque is a nice city. I have been extremely busy since I got here, so I haven’t gotten a chance to get out and explore too much. It has been much colder that I thought it would be and it is extremely dry, or at least much more than what I am used to. It’s also 6000 ft above see level and it took me a couple weeks to acclimate to the thin air. I have lived by the ocean for most of my life, so it’s really weird being in the middle of a high desert. I can’t believe that I have been here for two months already, it’s seems like I just started yesterday. I am going to be sorry when the contract is over because I really enjoy the project and the group of people I work with. I hope that this will open up some new doors for me in the future, but only time will tell :)
Stay tuned for new things to come. Thanks for reading!