Welcome to the Vice Chair’s Blog – Showreels and Happy Feet Report

Greetings Fellow Sydney SIGGRAPH members!

On 7 February we kicked off this year’s events with a session on that perennial favourite: showreels. The Industry Forum last November made it clear that events focussing on career issues would be very welcome so I put together a session on showreels that included the following tips:

Shilo’s Advice for Showreels:

  1. Figure out what you do best.
  2. Construct a showreel that shows this.

Three common and very annoying mistakes:

  1. Content included in the hope that viewers will be impressed with how much you have improved. This is a mistake because you are expected to have improved and — more importantly — you are expected to know the difference between good work and bad work. So include ONLY your BEST work.
  2. Images thrown together with no sense of pacing, structure, and relationship. A showreel should be creating a visual experience for the viewer.
  3. Bad music. Even if you love the song (a lot), unless you choose music that fits the energy, structure and viewing experience that compliments your images there is every chance you will alienate the viewer. Basically, anything that has to be played at volume control 11 or has been implicated in X File cases involving aural bleeding should be avoided.

The Structure:

You have no more than 3 minutes. Shorter will be appreciated.

  • 20 – 30 seconds — eye candy montage
  • 2 minutes (or less) — breakdowns demonstrating the creation of shots (software used, process taken, what YOU did)
  • 20 seconds — summary eye candy montage ending with a really, really impressive image
  • 10 seconds — name, email/phone contact details.

LABEL EVERYTHING — disc, case, content. Yes, presentation matters so unless you have nicer-than-a-font handwriting, permanent marker scrawled on a disc that is then folded into a torn piece of notepaper is probably not good enough. Make the effort to print, package, and label things in a way that makes you look good.

Our second event for the year was the very cool Animal Logic team showing us how they crafted Happy Feet. We had the privilege of having:

Aidan Sarsfield (Character Supervisor — formerly with Mambo and an FTO Digital Visual Effects Trainee, credits include: Moulin Rouge, Matrix Reloaded)
Justen Marshall (Software Development Manager, credits include: Hero, Moulin Rouge, Matrix Reloaded)
Magali Rigaudias (Character Lead Animator — formerly with ILM, credits include: Dragonheart, Mars Attacks, The Mummy, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

Showing work from the early stages of concept and character development, the team explained how motion capture data and performance videos fitted into the animation pipeline, detailing everything from software development and nuances of character performance. This special event was free to all attending and we had a full room with members enjoying the Q&A session and give-aways.

Our next two events will continue our plan to balance career information sessions with technical skills presentations. So don’t miss the AFTRS, Rising Sun, Fuel and Animal Logic presenting on the topic of climbing the ladder — all you need to know about getting ahead in the industry through career planning and continued training (04 April). And on 4 May we will take another look at animation with character animator David Smith presenting a session on Animation and Performance.

See you at CoFA!

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