SIGGRAPH 2014 News: Autodesk Educators Breakfast: Panel Discussion

Autodesk's Educators Breakfast today at SIGGRAPH 2014 included a panel discussion by reps from Method Studios and the Vancouver Film School that focused on interviewing strategies and getting that edge in the market place. Featured panelists included:
  • Marc Weigert (President, Method Studios)
  • Jeff Weiner (Digital Studio Manager, Method Studios)
  • Vanessa Jacobsen (Interim Department Head for Animation and Visual Effects, VFS)
  • Colin Giles (Senior Animation Instructor, (VFS)
Some of the key points made during the talk looked at the importance of sociability, portfolio organization, and passion for your craft.
  • Interviews and Resumes

One panel question dealt with interviewing questions, specifically the first one most people encounter: "What do you do?" or "Tell us a little about yourself." Jeff explained that this question's purpose was to find out a little about your personality, to allow you to open up and show the passion for your work. As a manager, Marc believes that the most important characteristic of a potential hire is their sociability, likeability, and cultural fit. "Life's too short to work with assholes." [laughter] Office politics poison companies. If it's between two candidates: one highly skilled and the other with a good personality, the second person will usually get the job. The main point being made was that having a good attitude and passion for your job can take you further than just your skill. Colin commented on what employers and university admissions look for in a potential hire or student. "Employers want to know not just that you know the artistic process, but what you plan on doing with it. Be a professional and mature person. I know you're a student, but don't act like one," stated Colin.
  • Portfolios and Show Reels

Vanessa stressed the importance of keeping your resume simple and spell checked while Jeff explained what he looks for in a submitted show reel. What you put into your reel says a lot about your artistic interests. "If the reel has lighting work, I think 'they must want to be a lighter,'" says Jeff, "I look for the shots that say 'this is me!'" Being thoughtful about what you include in your portfolio can make all the difference. "A big issue I've seen with show reels is that they often include skills other than what the applicant wants to do. If you want to be a modeler, give me a one minute reel of modeling, not lighting, not texturing....just modeling," Marc stated. Colin added, "If you put your best stuff first it makes it seems like it's okay to present your second best last. On your reel or portfolio, just present your best stuff."
  • On-The-Job Training

Question: How prepared are students/employees on day one, and how do you get them up to speed?
  • Jeff: "Mostly it depends on their passion. You're here, here's the platform. Where do you want to go?"
  • Marc: "We have a wiki that explains how you work with our tools. The more they can look through that themselves and be self-motivated, the better. That helps because it requires less time for others to train them."
  • Vanessa: Technology is great, but often when students see it break down they say, 'What's wrong? It doesn't work!' You have to trouble shoot and get past these problems because technology breaks down all of the time."
  • Colin: "There's a lot of fear in students that every problem is a big one. But the key is that you have to try and solve it. The more you do that, the better you'll become at trouble shooting.
Hearing insider tips on interviewing can be a real asset for artist just starting out in the industry. To see some more tips on how to get that extra advantage when it comes to interviews and portfolios, check out these other Digital-Tutor's articles: "What Does Your Reel Say About You?", "Insider Tips for Getting a Job at a Game Studio," "5 Reasons Employers Are Passing Up Graphic Designers and Their Portfolios." and "Demo Reel and Portfolio Tips from Game Industry Professionals."