What Directors/Studios are Looking for Specifically when Recruiting

Since it’s the beginning of the year and people tend to dust off their cv’s we took to the polls to find out what you wanted to know about the mysterious mystical picking procedures MD’s and Studios go through when interviewing a creative.

The following studios and houses are contributing to this series:

  • Sunrise Productions
  • Triggerfish Animation
  • BlackGinger
  • Sea Monster
  • The Flying Circus
  • Mind’s Eye Creative
  • Voodoo Theatre

So a BIG thank you to each and everyone of them!

What animation directors/studios are looking for when hiring new talent

All right let’s get to these questions first one up.

1. Are there any skills outside of animation that you particularly look for when hiring?

Andre vd Merwe – Producer at The Flying Circus

We typically look for artists with very specific skill-sets and very seldom look for generalists. If it’s animators we’re looking for, we look at animation-skills. If it’s riggers we’re looking for, we look specifically at their rigging skill-set. And so it goes…

Matthew Brown – Sunrise Production – Producer / SVP (Production)

Yes. Any other software skills tell me more about the person’s interests and proficiency. Equally, hobbies, like photography, also tell me more.

Mike Buckland – Producer at Triggerfish Animation Studios

High degree of self motivation and initiative, ability to collaborate within a team, and strong communications skills are really critical.

Darrin Hofmeyr – CG Supervisor at Blackginger

Anything that shows a person is creative or the opposite and is technically inclined.
We look for a variety of candidates and other skills like photography, painting or coding is beneficial to the applicant as it shows creativity beyond pushing buttons and how to use a toolset.
Resourcefulness and initiative are probably the biggest factor when considering an employee, what will this candidate bring to the company over the others that are being interviewed.

Glenn Gillis – CEO Sea Monster Entertainment

– Mostly about attitude, with skills secondary
– Always need production , admin skills
– Also new business development, and ability to sell, interact with customers
– Should have 2 or 3 general skill and 1 deep speciality

Nick Cloete – Managing Director at Mind’s Eye Creative

Drawing prowess, the ability to take instruction and problem-solve.

Rifkah Carr – Film Producer / Writer / Model at Voodoo Theatre

The Ability to create photo real 3D and Matte paintings. We look for freelance artist that can hold their own as we are independent and self employed and Voodoo is a hub for collaborations of artist and a VFX boutique who renders services to and from suppliers.

2. How important is a Tertiary degree or diploma?

Andre vd Merwe – Producer at The Flying Circus

It’s not a deal-breaker, but in our experience, most of the talented artists that we’ve employed have come from tertiary institutions. Very few of our CG staff are exclusively self-taught.

Matthew Brown – Sunrise Production – Producer / SVP (Production)

It depends on the job. I’m happy to have a self taught artist if their work is good.

Mike Buckland – Producer at Triggerfish Animation Studios

We find the portfolio or showreel is a much better indicator of an artist’s skill and potential than a certificate.

Darrin Hofmeyr – CG Supervisor at Blackginger

It really depends on what you learn or are taught during the diploma or degree. Other areas separate to the tool specific and general animation or vfx principles which can be learnt online like time management, project preparation and project delivery are valuable lessons used in a career.
Working on team projects at a tertiary education institute teaches applicants more than production skills it also aids in bettering soft skills like dealing with decision making and how to approach problems and arguments.

Glenn Gillis – CEO Sea Monster Entertainment

– Important to have solid grounding
– Self taught is also fine, but standards are high
– Schools often mis aligned so yes go to one, but also interact with industry
– Passion for ongoing learning is key

Nick Cloete – Managing Director at Mind’s Eye Creative

Qualifications are unreliable indicators because course content and instructors change over time, along with their focus, which may not be relevant to the job.

Rifkah Carr – Film Producer / Writer / Model at Voodoo Theatre

Well when recruiting I judge the ability and skill and not whether the artist knows how to theoretically know how to create but tertiary education is a great way of understanding whether an artist has the ability to handle tasks and understand briefs / instructions.

3. How important is a Reel and what do you look for?

Andre vd Merwe – Producer at The Flying Circus

A good showreel is absolutely key; we will not employ someone without a reel.

Matthew Brown – Sunrise Production – Producer / SVP (Production)

This is crucial. The bulk of my decision will be based on work/reel/art/portfolio.

Mike Buckland – Producer at Triggerfish Animation Studios

Very important! We look for exceptional skills in the particular position we’re trying to fill, and some evidence of good general skills outside of that.

Darrin Hofmeyr – CG Supervisor at Blackginger

This has been dealt with on numerous occasions on numerous platforms and websites so not to repeat what is well known but it is very important and should always feature ONLY your best work. Quality over quantity and avoid fluffing out your reel with mediocre work.

Glenn Gillis – CEO Sea Monster Entertainment

– For some positions very, and only way to gauge skill
– Be bright, be brief, no long intros, pans
– Show specific things clearly, and concept sketches, anything that shows talent is useful, even roughs

Nick Cloete – Managing Director at Mind’s Eye Creative

This is your resume’ if you’re an artist – ditch the paperwork. We look for an understanding of the 12 basic principles and range and depth of skill sets.

Rifkah Carr – Film Producer / Writer / Model at Voodoo Theatre

– EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Your reel is your Judgment Day to getting the Job or Not. VFX is a visually creative industry so words means very little.
– When I recruit I look for multi skilled individuals that might have mastered a certain niche or many preferably.
– E.G. If a client calls and asked for buildings that needs to be realistically created according to their designs and these building should evolve from building into cars according to their brand. The Supervisor will do a break down treatment that may imply we need previsualization architectural designers with immaculate 3D designing skills and is impeccably amazing with Nuke, Mudbox, Maya, Arnold rendering and After effects. Visually I will need to vet hence the reel, there after I will look at the resume which should imply 4 plus years of experience in commercial or long form films. Because we a commercial service provider we look for artists that provide speed, efficiency and quality.

4. How can you prove your skill beside using a showreel?

Andre vd Merwe – Producer at The Flying Circus

For certain disciplines in CG, we require applicants to perform a test.

Matthew Brown – Sunrise Production – Producer / SVP (Production)

If your showreel/portfolio is weak it will be hard to overcome it with anything else.

Mike Buckland – Producer at Triggerfish Animation Studios

Completing and submitting work for competitions or festivals, getting involved in industry workshops, posting articles, tutorials or videos to help other people.

Darrin Hofmeyr – CG Supervisor at Blackginger

This is almost impossible if you mean that a showreel and portfolio is the same thing. An online portfolio showing still images is almost as good as the moving picture version but without either I would say there is no way to prove you are capable. We look at a CV to gather information about the artist in more ways than just the education background, work experience and software knowledge but at the end of the day we view the showreel to look at skill.

Glenn Gillis – CEO Sea Monster Entertainment

– Yes show up, make an effort, think of ways to stand out and cut through the noise
– Understand our company and show where you can add value
– Work experience and references
– Taking on jobs to survive shows determination

Nick Cloete – Managing Director at Mind’s Eye Creative

Offer to reproduce pre-existing animation or animate a new shot.

Rifkah Carr – Film Producer / Writer / Model at Voodoo Theatre

You cant

5. What personality traits do you look for?

Andre vd Merwe – Producer at The Flying Circus

Team players that have a mature sense of interdependence.

Matthew Brown – Sunrise Production – Producer / SVP (Production)

I look for people that have a good work ethic and who are friendly. You do not have to be an extrovert but conducting yourself in an approachable manner goes a long way. Good communication skills and the ability to stay calm under pressure are also necessary.

Mike Buckland – Producer at Triggerfish Animation Studios

We look for people who are highly motivated by the work we do at Triggerfish, who hold themselves to high standards of quality in their work and who are able to work well with other people.

Darrin Hofmeyr – CG Supervisor at Blackginger

We look for traits that are beneficial to employment. An applicant must be able to take direction and accept direction as well as numerous changes to a task. But we also have an array of artists at BlackGinger that range from the most introverted to the most extroverted. If they fit in with the culture and vibe of BlackGinger then they will be successful.

Glenn Gillis – CEO Sea Monster Entertainment

– Resilience
– Ability to take feedback
– Willing to do the hard work x repeat
– Passion and energy

Nick Cloete – Managing Director at Mind’s Eye Creative

Upbeat attitude, attentiveness and diligence.

Rifkah Carr – Film Producer / Writer / Model at Voodoo Theatre

Passionate with a cognitive mentality

6. Is Linkedin or online profiles a viable source as a cv, any preferences?

 

Andre vd Merwe – Producer at The Flying Circus

We always request a hard copy of CV’s.

Matthew Brown – Sunrise Production – Producer / SVP (Production)

Linked in is totally useless. I’m happy for a CV as a document. I’d like to mention that files without names, poor intro emails etc, do frustrate me. I’ve gotten CVs praising our feature films (we haven’t made any), addressed to different companies and other pretty shocking mails.

Mike Buckland – Producer at Triggerfish Animation Studios

We have a website where applicants can send in applications or update their details and links to their reels. This helps us a lot to keep track of each individual’s information. We also look at Linkedin profiles, and portfolio sites such as ArtStation and Behance.

Darrin Hofmeyr – CG Supervisor at Blackginger

LinkedIn is beneficial when it comes to previous work experience as linked companies and previous employers can be referenced easily and even ones own connections can be contacted for referrals. As a student applying for work it doesn’t have any advantages over a simple online CV. The simpler the ingestion of information for the viewer the better and some online portfolio sites have buttons and links that need to be clicked to gather the information. Show more buttons are my biggest annoyance, just show me the information in a way you want me to ingest it.

Glenn Gillis – CEO Sea Monster Entertainment

– Yes but make it easy of us to access
– Put extra effort into polishing all your profiles

Nick Cloete – Managing Director at Mind’s Eye Creative

Professional spam. A personalized approach is more likely to receive a response.

Rifkah Carr – Film Producer / Writer / Model at Voodoo Theatre

– Sure it has helped when we are really desperate but mostly pending on what we need we call up other producers for recommendations or call up artists we have worked with previously.
– At the moment I prefer www.pixelsmithstudios.com

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7. Do you take social media accounts like Facebook into account when it comes to hiring new candidates?

Andre vd Merwe – Producer at The Flying Circus

We do, yes.

Matthew Brown – Sunrise Production – Producer / SVP (Production)

Not really. I might give a quick glance at social media just to see if you’re on trial for armed robbery.

Mike Buckland – Producer at Triggerfish Animation Studios

We might look for a person’s profile on facebook, especially if we haven’t worked with them before, in order to get an idea of what interests them.

Darrin Hofmeyr – CG Supervisor at Blackginger

I will have a quick look at an applicants profile to get a general feel of his/her character if it is even possible with their privacy settings but I won’t go out of my way to “friend” an applicant to look at every event since their birth.

Glenn Gillis – CEO Sea Monster Entertainment

– We do check people out and can get a sense of who they are so be careful

Nick Cloete – Managing Director at Mind’s Eye Creative

Binge-drinking and online drama are anything but deal-breakers in our studio.

Rifkah Carr – Film Producer / Writer / Model at Voodoo Theatre

No

8. Is it an advantage to showcase generalist skills in a showreel when applying for a specific position?

Andre vd Merwe – Producer at The Flying Circus

Not really, no.

Matthew Brown – Sunrise Production – Producer / SVP (Production)

It does help, since it is valuable to have a person who can do more than one role. Its important to indicate what role you played on what clips in your reel.

Mike Buckland – Producer at Triggerfish Animation Studios

Only after first demonstrating the specific skills required for the position.

Darrin Hofmeyr – CG Supervisor at Blackginger

I wouldn’t say an advantage but having a few examples of work that the applicant has an understanding for the entire pipeline goes a long way.
Just remember the golden rule. DO NOT put anything on the showreel that might imply you do not care for quality. Including a below average model to show that you know how to use Maya is worse for your reel than not including it. Everything on your reel is a reflection of what you consider quality. In your application make sure the specific position you are applying for has the most examples showing your ability in that skill set.

Glenn Gillis – CEO Sea Monster Entertainment

– ( As above) We do check people out and can get a sense of who they are so be careful

Nick Cloete – Managing Director at Mind’s Eye Creative

Showcasing proficiency in numerous techniques broadens your employment opportunity for other gigs, but promote yourself by your primary skill set, especially if it’s related to the position.

Rifkah Carr – Film Producer / Writer / Model at Voodoo Theatre

I would suggest when show reels are created for VFX just do the making of then 3 seconds of the final product. That would be the perfect reel for me then I would rarely have to look at the resume.

9. Is there any particular specialist fields that is more in demand than others?

Andre vd Merwe – Producer at The Flying Circus

I’m not so sure about actual demand within the wider context of the local industry, but we’re more or less always looking for experienced riggers, lighters and FX artists and it’s been quite challenging to find them

Matthew Brown – Sunrise Production – Producer / SVP (Production)

Yes, VFX and Lighting in Houdini is in very high demand. I get tons and tons of mails from people who want to do character design, but I’m usually looking for Houdini artists…

Mike Buckland – Producer at Triggerfish Animation Studios

It depends from year to year, but in general people with both creative and technical abilities are always at an advantage. We find good Zbrush artists, Riggers, Lighters, Compositors are less common, and so they are often in demand.

Darrin Hofmeyr – CG Supervisor at Blackginger

Compositing – at BlackGinger we are always in demand of good compositors. We use Nuke but have had a few AE artists that transitioned well due to the fact they knew about the art of compositing and not just how to push the buttons. This is mostly due to the fact we currently have a high volume of 2D comp work and most of our feature film work is comp based.

Glenn Gillis – CEO Sea Monster Entertainment

– Low poly 3D
– 2d Toon Boom
– Storyboards
– Game design / concept development

– Production management
– Business development

Nick Cloete – Managing Director at Mind’s Eye Creative

The demand for specialist trades fluctuate within and between studios.

Rifkah Carr – Film Producer / Writer / Model at Voodoo Theatre

It varies pending in which film medium you working.

GO SAY HI!

A big thank you again to all the MD’s, Studios and Production houses, go have a look at their websites and profiles below.

Approved
Triggerfish Animation Studios
Vimeo Showreel:
Youtube Showreel:
Approved
Mind's Eye Creative
Vimeo Showreel:
Youtube Showreel:
Approved
Black Ginger
Vimeo Showreel:
Youtube Showreel:
Approved
Sunrise Productions
Vimeo Showreel:
Youtube Showreel:
Approved
Sea Monster
Youtube Showreel:
Approved
The Flying Circus
Youtube Showreel:
Approved
Voodoo Theatre
Ruan

Written by Ruan Smit


Ruan Smit started Pixelsmithstudios with the vision of creating a new design orientated environment of sharing, learning and expertise development amongst local Animators,Illustrators,Game Developers and VFX artists in South Africa.