CTN is an exciting event for students, artists and professionals. Students get to mingle with the industry and make connections, artists get exposure and sell their art, and professionals share what they’ve learned and even recruit talent. There’s a lot of opportunity to be taken advantage of if you’re prepared and handle yourself correctly. There are also the chance to make negative first impressions and fade into the sea of hopefuls filling the convention. I remember my first time and how overwhelming it is, and want to help guide you through how to present yourself in a way that will make it a positive experience for you and those you meet. If you’re a confident, self-assured person who can command attention in a room, I’m sorry but today’s article isn’t for you. This is for everyone else who, like me, struggles in high-pressure social situations. You’re not alone.
One of my coworkers recently told me a story that really resonated with me. His family owned a beach house that they would visit a few times a year (must be nice, I know). For years there had never been any issues whenever they came to stay. Since no one had been there, there was never any reason to expect anything out of the ordinary. One time, though, they forgot to turn off the water main, and one of the faucets upstairs was accidentally left on a very slow drip. This happens all the time, and is usually harmless to anything but your utility bill. Months later, though, they returned to find the entire second floor sagging down and standing water everywhere. The house looked like it had been through a hurricane! Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of damage, caused by a drop of water every few seconds.
This is the power of consistency.
Whenever some great piece of animation or visual effects is posted online, invariably the most repeated questions is “What software did you use?” CGI has been around for decades, yet the impression that software is responsible for the art still persists. Schools tout their cutting-edge computer labs and 3D packages, claiming to teach what studios want to see. Students are forced to buy software books with horrendous-looking CG characters on the cover, and follow tutorials that don’t result in anything even resembling industry standard art.
Probably the scariest time in your career will be the beginning, while you search for that elusive first job. Getting your foot in the door and convincing someone to pay you for animation is no easy thing. There are some who are snatched up right out of school and they’re set, but for most of us that is not the case. You should be prepared for a long, hard road ahead; one that probably won’t take you the direction you’ve envisioned. Talk to most professionals and they’ll tell you about the jobs they didn’t expect to have, the opportunities that popped up out of nowhere, and the rejections and failures they went through.
Feedback, in my opinion, is one of the most crucial components of success in animation. The desire to seek, accept, and implement feedback is directly proportional to how well you will do in the long run. There can be a lot of emotional resistance to showing peers and supervisors unfinished work. Our identity and self worth tend to get wrapped up in our art. This is perfectly natural, but has to be out in check so that we can be open to outside opinions and direction.
Here’s an image I’d like to shatter right now: none of us are perfect. Read more