3 Things To Bear In Mind From The Digital Domain Shutdown

By now you’ve likely read the regrettable news that Digital Domain has shuttered their Florida studio that was producing the company’s first feature film, The Legend of Tembo. It’s devastating news for employees and it will naturally be an economic loss to the locality and indeed the State of Florida, but today’s events do highlight a couple of things that everyone should keep in mind.

Maintain an Online Presence and Keep it Updated

I can’t emphasise this enough. In today’s very liquid, very mobile job market, maintaining an online presence is essential. Things like an online portfolio or demo reel will pay dividends if your next job is hundreds of miles away.

A blog or otherwise online journal shows continued personal development and a desire to move your career forward. Bear in mind that a tumblr of your art or sketches isn’t necessarily enough. Motivation is what employers look for and the more you exhibit, the better your chances will be.

Twitter and Facebook don’t count in this context. While they are good at communication, they don’t exactly convey any particular skill on your behalf.

And of course, keep everything updated on a regular basis. You can have the best portfolio/blog in the world but it it’s a year out of date, that says as much to an employer as it needs to, and it isn’t necessarily good news to their ears.

Maintain Your Contact List

Even more important than an updated online presence is an online real world presence. Contacts are what drive many industries and animation is no exception. Have a list of colleagues, co-workers, classmates, etc. and converse with them on a regular basis. Even a quick note to say hi is better than nothing. In deference to the above, twitter and facebook in addition to e-mails. phone calls and meetings work best in this regard.

Remember: It’s not who you know, it’s who know you. If your name is out there, the more people who know it, the greater your chance of you picking up another job is.

Be Prepared Financially

We live in a capitalistic society. Companies can go south for any reason at any time. The general rule is the larger they are, the harder they fall. Being prepared financially is an absolute must for anybody in the workforce. A good yardstick is at least 6 months salary squirreled away somewhere that can be easily accessed.

Some may wince at the idea of having to keep so much stockpiled, but the more you do, the greater your comfort zone will be in looking for another job. It also means that you won’t be under the same pressure to accept the first offer and can hold out for a better one if you so choose Once you find it, build that savings pile back up for the next time, because you can be sure you will need it again at some point in your career and you’ll be glad it’s there when you do.

5 Signs That It’s Time For A New Job

So today is a bit of a momentous day for me in that I start a new job; only my second real one. Yes, I’m still a civil engineer so no need to change the title of this blog just yet.

Changing jobs can be difficult, and for me a lot of it was psychological in that I really did like where I worked but still had to pluck up a lot of courage to hand in the notice.

So below are a few indicators that it may be time for you to do the same.

1. The People You Work With Are Nuts

We’ve all been there, when co-workers and bosses are just not nice people. Unfortunately, there are horrible people all over the place and some are inexplicably in positions of power. However, job satisfaction is hard to come by when there is someone who is making your job a living hell. The bottom line? The stress of dealing with such people isn’t worth it, no matter how much you earn.

2. The Place You Work At Is Horrible

While your office/studio may not be comparable to, say, a coal mine, that doesn’t mean it’s a pleasant place to work in. Cramped conditions, lousy air-conditioning, smelly toilets are all signs of a terrible office, but they are not the limit. You might also have to deal with constant noise, poor maintenance, you name it. If spending 8 hours a day in a building takes effort, that’s a sure sign that it’s time to find a nicer place to work.

3. You’re Not Challenged Any More

Work should be challenging on some level. It doesn’t have to be a constant burden, nor does it have to be a walk in the park. Moderate challenges are part of career growth and should be welcomed by anyone who wants to get ahead. If you feel your job is too easy and you’re not being stretching the brain muscles like you should, then it’s time for a change.

4. Your Over-Worked

Too much work is bad. Everyone knows that. But the funny thing is, people will tend to work longer and longer without thinking about when they should stop. If your boss came to you and asked you to work 70 hours next week, you might laugh. But what if he asked for an extra 5 hours? Sure, you could do that, right? Well if you got comfortable doing that, then another 5 on top of that wouldn’t seem near as bad. Before you know it, you’re up to 70 hours and all your free time has disappeared. Sure, you might make good money, but it isn’t worth it in the long run, as this cautionary tale details.

The standard work week is 40 hours for a reason. Putting in a lot more than than consistently is bad for your health and a sure sign that it’s time to switch.

5. A Combination of All Of The Above

Funnily enough, I learned that you don’t need just one reason to switch jobs. In my case none of the above were an issue on their own. But a little bit of one and a little bit of another combined to give me enough reasons to say yes when the question came along.

This will be the case for most people, and only you can decide when the time is right. Either way, it’s up to you to make the change, very rarely will it come to you.

Addendum:

You’ll notice that pay isn’t on the list. The simple reason is that almost everyone is aware of how much they earn and it’s a natural trait that people want to earn more. The result is that people will be acutely aware when they are being under-paid and as a result, will more than likely look to switch when they are.

Three Solid Steps To Encouraging A Kid To Take Up Animation

Via The Animator’s Survival Kit.com

Animation is kind of a funny industry in that a vast majority of its ultimate customers have no idea about the nuts and bolts of the products or even the industry behind it. OK, granted, that could be true about any industry, for instance, do you know how roads are designed? Perhaps, but could you tell me how to lay out a road profile, complete with PVC, PVT, K, SSD, HSD and e values? You could! Oh I see, you were pulling my leg, well, shame on me.

One difference is that adults can generally go and read about how to do it but the real difference is that adults have a choice about whether they go and read about it. Kids (for the most part) do not care.

This morning as I sat down to write this post, it occurred to me that the path to my current career was pretty much laid out in advance, school-wise at least. I mean, civil engineering isn’t a spectacularly complex career; it’s not like we’re competing with the medical or law colleges for the best minds in the nation so planning for a career as one was fairly simple.

Which got me thinking, how would you encourage a child that seems hell-bent on doing animation? It’s a bit of a tricky one because plenty of kids love animation but only a select few can understand it and reproduce it.

The first way would be to find the signs. Do they enjoy watching cartoons? Do they doodle all the time? Do they make rudimentary comics? Have they created a universe for their comic/characters? These are all traits of a creative mind at work. I distinctly remember the kids at school who were always drawing or doodling. During the intensely competitive newsletter market in 5th class, there were one or two comics floating around trying to lighten the atmosphere a bit.

Now that you’ve noticed the talent, how do you go about building the foundation for a career? It can vary, but most animators I am aware of (and have talked to) strongly hint that their parents had a fairly large bearing in their early days. This ranges from buying the necessary supplies to, in Brad Bird’s case, driving two and a half hours to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in a hokey-poke cinema in Oregon. So the answer would seem to be to encourage creativity and to ensure that the kid has plenty or opportunities to experience the artform.

The third and I suppose final way would be to ensure that the kid receives some sort of formal education in the field. I mean, it is one thing to have natural talent but more often than not, such a skill can run wild and some instruction can go a long way to channeling that energy into something truly creative. There are plenty of good schools out there, both expensive and not so expensive. What matters is that the child at least has the option of going to one.

The ultimate point of this post is that you sometimes hear the stories out there of how parents almost admonish a kid for drawing or doodling in the false belief that they could never earn a living from animation or the creative arts. Such a mindset is defeatist and such discouragement is a sign of ignorance on the part of the parent.

I kinda feel like I’m preaching to the choir on this one, but as a non-animator, this is the kind of stuff I see animators complaining about or regaling in stories about themselves or people they knew. There is no excuse for it so hopefully this post will serve as a bit of a reminder to everyone that we should be encouraging kids to take up the skills if they have an interest in it.