Today CAA Careers is introducing DreamingFish Productions, an award-winning production and animation company based in Woking, in Surrey.
Here, Animation Manager Luke Brown talks about how he came to be where he is now, and gives some advice on showreels, employability, and the importance of promoting yourself on social media...
Over to you, Luke!
How have you ended up where you are now?
I actually ended up in this industry in a pretty roundabout way! I studied contemporary music at University and ended up as a music tutor for about a year or so after graduating until I realised that it wasn’t for me. One of my close friends was working at a local studio as a camera operator and wangled me a job at the studio as a production assistant. I was doing all the low-end jobs like picking up event edits and getting voiceovers recorded. I very quickly got very interested in the animations the studio where creating and spent hours in my spare time watching tutorials and fudging my way around After Effects. Several years later, and several online and evening short courses later, I now head up the animation department for a studio called DreamingFish. My role is being the primary in house resource for all animations as well as managing a network of freelancers and a junior artist in house. I now produce motion design and animated projects from kinetic type infographics right through to photoreal 3D renders for cinema adverts!
Is working in a studio or working independently more fulfilling?
I think as you start to hone your craft and understand, in more detail, about how to deal with revisions, managing client expectations and charging accurately as well as being able to come up with a compelling creative solution to your clients problems then working independently does become more attractive, if that’s what you’re after.
I personal really enjoy bouncing ideas off other people, being able to learn from other people from their specialist skillset and the comradery of being part of a single unit in a studio. This is something you don’t get by working independently.
What insipres you?
Working as part of a team does inspire me, especially when everyone is passionate about a project. Other people’s passions keep you moving forward even if you don’t feel like it yourself some days. I personally get inspiration from a lot of things and find it very helpful to look outside our industry to help break the mould of regurgitating what everyone else is doing. I find inspiration in film, photograph, architecture, art and nature – especially for character animation! I think anything that gets you thinking and anything that takes you away from the screen for a while will help to inspire you and come at something with fresh eyes.
What makes a good showreel, and is it important?
A good showreel is absolutely vital! No one looks at CV’s in this industry you are completely judged on the quality of your reel. I would say keep it to an absolute maximum of 60 seconds, there is considerable drop off in views for showreels and any online video past the 60 second mark. Make sure ONLY your best stuff is in there, if there’s one project you’re not sure whether to put in your reel and are only putting it in as filler, take it out. One single bad shot in a showreel can tarnish the whole piece.
Keep it short, snappy and the viewer wanting more! (Also make sure your contact details are on the end!)
Try and do some creative editing to your chosen music track too. If you’re not an editor then get an editor to help you. A good edit of a showreel is just as important as the content.
How important is it to keep learning?
There is always the next best thing to learn and it’s a constant struggle to keep on top of software in the industry but I would say that having a strong understanding on how to make good animation is more important than learning the latest plugin or software. Software will only get you so far whereas a great idea, even if done in the most rudimentary software, will come out on top.
Having said that, for pretty much any motion design job now you need to have a solid understanding of After Effects, Photoshop and Illustrator and at least some knowledge of Cinema 4D or other 3D programme.
How important is it to promote yourself on social media?
Super important! Especially on sites like Instagram, Behance and Dribbble. I would say that quality of work is more important than quantity but having an active feed is almost a must now. It’s a great way to get your name out there as well as staying a part of the community. Also a lot of people are picked up for jobs trough sites like Instagram and Behance.
In your opinion, what makes a good employee?
Being a nice person, who is willing to learn and admit they don’t know everything will get you a job. If you’re arrogant or rude and not willing to learn you won’t get anywhere. I know so many people who are OK as a motion designer/animator but get booked constantly because it’s such a joy to work with them. And they will always get booked over the person who is great at motion design/animation but is a pain to work with.
Having strong design and animation skills as well as technical knowledge is important and a certain level is obviously required to work within the industry but personality conquers skillset.
Check out the DreamingFish showreel here!