Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Posted by Bobby Beck at 12:03 AM
Siggraph 2008: Day 1
[This picture shows some of the schools gathered in a room to review each others top student work at DreamWorks Animation Studios in Glendale]

I flew in to Los Angeles last night. I started the day bright and early at DreamWorks Animation Studios in Glendale. I had never been there before. It is absolutely a gorgeous place to work!

Animation Mentor was amongst about 15 – 20 other schools for the DreamWorks educators symposium. The highlight was when they showed 2 minutes of each schools work for 2008. I had never seen our student’s work juxtaposed against all the other top art and animation schools and I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how well our work stood out. It hit me hard that we are doing things right and the results definitely show in the work our students are doing. It was a great way to start Siggraph!

There are a few points that I took away about demo reels:

1. Demo Reels are too long. 2 minutes maximum is plenty. They don't want to see EVERYTHING you've ever done. They only want to see the best and 2 minutes is more than plenty as any more than this and it just starts to drag.

2. Students need to specialize more. At Animation Mentor we've known this for a long time and when we started AM people thought we were crazy. The industry at large, not just the big studios, are requiring more specialization in one or two areas. Don't try to do everything otherwise you will not shine in any one area. If animation is what you want to do then ANIMATE really well and have someone else do the model/rig for you. It was awesome to hear this from theme carried through and supported by ALL of the schools!

3. Simon Otto, animation supervisor at DreamWorks explained he likes to see a maturity in students work. After many questions he explained that maturity meant animation that feels real and sincere. Not gimicky animation like overdone anticipations and characters scratching their heads to show they are thinking. I'm happy to say that at Animation Mentor we strive to teach the mature side of animation. The best way we've found to do this is by having students choose a variety of ideas and work with their mentor to focus it down to the best idea. From there the mentor helps the student really refine it into something special!

I hope this tips are useful for you guys.

Here’s a sneak peek of our booth at Siggraph this year! It rocks! We have an adventure theme going this year. Even though the show is not open yet I was able to sneak onto the floor to snap this picture of our booth! This picture does not do it justice. The Animation Mentor crew are so awesome and have really outdone themselves this year. It’s so cool and we have a lot of cool events happening at the booth this year!

Part of the adventure them is a case displaying “artifacts.” Among the artifacts is a “Mummified Tailor!” How cool is that. Our genius Art Director came up with this and it’s so fun. I love seeing the level of quality and attention to detail that goes in to every little thing that is in the booth. There’s tons of “Easter Eggs” to see in the booth!

After I got to check out the booth I had to rush over to our hotel where the Animation Mentor crew got together for a staff dinner to gear up for the next few days of insanity. I love our team and everyone is pumped and rarin’ to have fun! It’s always nice to get out of the office and simply have fun with the team.

I snapped this candid moment of the crew in mid-joke! I love the energy of the team and am so completely pumped for the next few days as I know we’re all going to have a blast. More to come, soon! Enjoy and I hope to see some of you at Siggraph soon!

Tomorrow we unveil the new Summer Student Showcase reel which will come online next Monday for the world to see!!!

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