Last week we opened the floodgates over on Instagram Stories and invited you to ask us any question about getting a job with us or in the industry. The response was phenomenal!
Here we've rounded up some of our answers to the most commonly asked questions, and hopefully answer some of the ones we weren't able to respond to.
Big thanks to our Blue Zoo contributors:
Katie Gascoyne Recruitment & Talent Coordinator, Grace Culverwell Lead Modeller, Rory Cooke Head of Assist Build, Bader Baddrudin Animation Director, Paulene Hamilton Head of Talent, Will Cook Animation Director, Negar Bagheri Head of Art & Look Dev, Yoli Clerke Lighting & Compositing Lead, Cat Salkeld Storyboard Artist, Lizzie Hicks Creative Producer, Francesca Adams Storyboard Artist, Francesco Mazza Art Director & Concept Artist, Matt Tea Series Director, Damian Hook Head of Commercials, Izzy Burton Concept Artist, Dane Winn Animation Director and Tom Box Co-Founder.
What should I put in my showreel?
"Original ideas and please avoid the typical walk cycle dialogue shot and dragon animation. We need to see your take on things. Be yourself and don’t just do what all the showreel advice blog posts tell you to do. Add something personal. If you’re into skateboarding why not animate someone skateboarding. We see the same types of animations day in and out. Be yourself. Do what you enjoy." Bader
"Individual shots are usually always going to the best route to go as will provide opportunity to show more variety." Matt
"You need 3 key shots. An acting shot with Lipsync. A narrative driven full body pantomime acting shot with no dialogue. An action shot with wonderful body mechanics. If you have these in a reel you’re on to a real winner." Will
Do you employ non-EU artists who require a visa?
Another question that cropped up a lot. Thankfully it's all about the talent and fit at Blue Zoo!
"We always review applications based on skills and experience first. If we think someone is the right person for the role and the project and they need a Visa, we will go through the Visa process to make sure we can bring that person to the studio." Paulene
"We look for talent, enthusiasm, passion and a friendly personality who will join the BZ family and be open to collaborating and be an active problem solver." Katie
How to apply & internships
"The easiest way for our recruitment team to review your work is setting up your profile on the jobsite and you can be in charge of making sure it is up to date with your latest showreel." Katie
"Best thing is to keep an eye out on social media and our BZ jobsite for all new vacancies and of course you can always make a speculative application." Paulene
"We do have an internship programme for 6 weeks every summer and you can find info about this posted on our jobsite around April each year." Katie
"We hire a mixture of freelancers, fixed term and permanent staff - it depends on the project we're hiring for and the role on the project." Katie
"Our hiring process goes through our jobs website. Once you’ve created a jobs profile and applied to one of our roles, we will let you know whether we’d like to invite you to an interview or were unsuccessful for the position. How long it takes to reply completely depends on the role and how many applications we have to get through. Often we have hundreds of applications for one role!" Katie
How to get a job as a modeller
Lots of people were interested in what it's like working as a modeller, and what should go into a modellers portfolio. Over to Grace and Rory...
"It's so great! As a modeller on productions, I get to work in a variety of styles and on various assets (props, vehicles, environments and characters) and I work with some incredibly talented artists. It's such a friendly, collaborative environment. Everyone shares their knowledge and I learn new stuff every day, despite being here for almost 4 years! Would recommend!" Grace
"Quality over quantity is important. We'd rather see a few good models than loads of bad ones. We look for stylised cartoon assets that have been used any sort of production including student films. Being diverse in style is a good thing because our shows all look different, have a look at our shorts to get an idea of the styles we are looking for." Rory
"Networking is very important. It's always good to go to events and meet people from the studio and show them your work because it makes it stick in our minds later on if you apply. Make sure you have some models that are a similar style to what we do here at Blue Zoo and keep updating your reel. Don't keep sending us the same showreel from 2011! Make sure you a mix of props, environments and characters because it's good to see a showreel that shows you can do all of it." Grace
Tips for becoming a storyboard artist
"Make yourself a RAD story portfolio and make sure it shows you can tell a story! (Or two, or three). Timing, layout, posing, understanding how to express diff characters and how to use camera are great skills for the role and should be demonstrated in boards / animatics / sketches." Cat
"Having a strong portfolio that shows good Drawing skills with knowledge of Acting, Layout and Cinematography. Communication and Creative problem solving are very important too, so show your workings – don’t be afraid to put some rough thumbnails in your portfolio. They might look messy, but it shows you can figure things out. Make sure your final boards are easy to read too (without having to read the descriptions on the panels)." Francesca
What do you look for in a concept artist?
"We really like to see a well laid out and coherent portfolio. If you have more than concept paintings, to separate design work such as characters and environments for easy access. We like to see good drawing and compositional skills, great use of light and colour in successfully capturing the mood and conveying a story. Variety is great too but put your best work forward!" Negar
"To become an illustrator or concept artist in animation you just need a good portfolio that shows you have strong art skills. I find that having a background in animation does help with how your work fits within an animation pipeline, and you're more likely to network with people from the animation industry, but it isn't essential. If you don't have an animation background just be proactive at meeting people that do!" Izzy
"When we look for Junior Concept Artists we love to see the thoughts and process behind every piece you have in your portfolio. It's nice to see your final work, all polished and painted, but usually in production a junior concept artist should deliver fast ideas and designs even in a rough way. Show us what's in your mind and how you arrive at the final designs through rough sketches. Moreover, we look for junior concept artists who are proficient in designing props and understand the volume of objects (make sure you have prop designs on your portfolio, not only character designs). Francesco
How did you know what area of the animation industry you wanted to work in?
"Realistically your career path may change in unexpected ways, especially if you are in the industry for many years. If you have a broad range of knowledge, why not consider applying as a generalist or to a role which involves a variety of areas? This could be a good way to effectively 'try out' a few areas in the workplace before moving on to specialise. It's also worth discussing openly at interviews if you have a range of skills or interests, to establish if a role or studio may have room for an artist to move sideways." Yoli
"I guess it boils down to what you really love doing. At the end of the day, you have to love what you do, so focus on what really gets you excited about animation and that will shine through in your portfolio." Grace
If you'd like to see all the Q&As head over to our Instagram account and check out our Highlights. If you have a question that we've still not managed to answer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the team will get back to you as soon as possible. Don't forget, there's lots of information over on our jobsite about how to apply. Thanks!