Career Advice from Glenda Martin

Glenda Martin shared a lot of resources and advice with us that will help prepare us for creating CVs and doing well at interviews. Mostly, I found that Glenda helped me get into the right mindset for what direction I need to be looking in for making the most out of my preparation time. These are some of the points she made during her presentation.

  • Know yourself very well. Know your own elevator pitch. What is your expertise? Why will you be chosen?
  • 70% of employers are looking at your LinkedIn account. Keep it sharp.
  • Commercial awareness is a top skill desired from employers. Accuracy and attention to detail are also highly desired.
  • Work that is successful is about continuous improvement. Prove your freshness and the value that you will add.  What do you do when the pressure is on?
  • What else do you do? Be able to discuss your part time job. Think of university as the common denominator. Oisín made a good point though, that our course in particular applies a lot of pressure and provides a lot of team experiences that you might not find on another course or in a part time job. Show how you cope with doing more than one thing at a time e.g.  juggling university work along with a part time job.
  • Look at Look at the careers profile and look out for extra ideas for skills I could include on my CV.
  • The same applies for filling out an application; make it match exactly to what is being asked for.
  • Learn about the company, their development, expansion, markets, products, mission statement, values, ethos/culture. Do your research and don’t just recite their website.
  • Why did you apply for this place? See their values and match yourself.
  • What are the issues/challenges/opportunities within this industry within the next 3 years? Be able to demonstrate your commercial awareness e.g. copyright protection, maximise what you do, what is happening in the industry, what are the threats, where do you need to prioritise?
  • Don’t bring a ‘just okay’ attitude to anything.
  • Keep a copy of any application forms that you send away for re-reading before interviews.
  • Know 3 things about yourself that stand out for the job. Ask other people what they see in you.
  • What excites you about this profession? What consumes you?
  • Tailor your CV to every single job i.e. have multiple CVs. If the project placement is independent, don’t talk about team work.
  • Your CV should be no longer than 2 sides of an A4 page.
  • Your ‘personal profile’, sometimes called ‘career objective’ can be your main differentiator. Include where you saw the job, why you’re applying, what you know about the job and your skills which are suitable.
  • Reference company values as desirable.
  • In your ‘interests section’ show your commitments and achievements.
  • Have an academic and work referee.
  • How you conduct yourself in an interview gives indication of client interaction and conduct. Smile and be positive.
  • Be prepared to think on your feet.
  • Why did you choose this degree? Why did you apply for this placement?
  • Give examples; a brief situation, task you did, action and result. Talk mostly about the results you achieved.
  • Question the interviewer always. Prepare at least two questions.
  • See the interview simulator online.

Guest Speaker: Laura Livingston


Image from:

Laura Livingstone’s LinkedIn:

I could learn a lot from Laura’s persistence and ability to make clear goals. Laura described how, early in her career, she applied for a job which she couldn’t do. Instead of giving up when she was turned away, she went away, studied VFX and learned the fundamentals of compositing and then returned to get the job. Was her personality and passion what got her the job then above her abilities at the time? Laura had a clear goal that she wanted to be a VFX producer, and she stuck to this goal until she could make it reality. If I remember right, Laura moved to America after she finished her course in DIT and earned a living working at a bar until she had the skills she needed to apply for the job which she wanted.

Notes from Laura’s talk with us:

  • How important is location when you are starting up? Laura talked about the advantage of being located in Vancouver/Canada, Asia (not specified) for feature film work.
  • Smaller companies have shorter deadlines.
  • When managing a team, it’s important to share your knowledge of the schedule and be able to predict over-time so that it doesn’t come as an unwanted surprise to the team.
  • Persist politely to get a placement. Laura talked about an example where a lady emailed multiple times before applying for a job in order to ensure the company’s continual awareness of her interest in the role.
  • Research is extremely important. Get to know someone on LinkedIn, etc. Plan on meeting people at festivals and message them on LinkedIn beforehand if you intend to say hi. Keep in contact with people.

Guest Speaker: James Baker

James Baker’s LinkedIn:

Resume on website:

Storyboarding is one of those skills that I would love to master as it’s the foundations of a great animation. I’m very interested in using cinematography to tell stories. Looking at the work of the people who have talked to us so far, it seems that most have led a specialised career as opposed to working within multiple roles on a project. James Baker seems to have focused on aspects relating to story design such as storyboarding, comics (closely related) and later on, screenwriting. Do people who have a narrower focus like this contribute better to projects? Will I be taking on too much if I focus on concept art/painting/drawing, matte painting, compositing, lighting, texturing, storyboarding, animating, modelling and motion graphics? That seems like quite the list. Then there is rigging and simulation also which would both be useful. I think that even writing would be something that I would enjoy doing.

Notes from James Baker’s talk with us:

  • The smaller studios are good for growing experience.
  • Make your personal project the job that you want. Make a list of what you love to draw/make.
  • Carry the script around in your head.
  • What is the key moment in a particular scene? Figure out the beats. What is the point you’re trying to convey? What camera angles will convey this? The defining shot is like the keyframe. Then define the connective tissue.
  • Start a story with a question/theme. What if a gun didn’t want to be a gun?
  • Read screenplays, learn how to write, convey stories with both words and pictures.

Guest Speaker: Gavin Moran


Gavin Moran’s LinkedIn:

Character animation showreel:

Gavin’s work on Kite was very inspirational. How are we supposed to choose one area to specialise in?!

Short interview about Kite:

:90 Interview: Gavin Moran from DC Shorts on Vimeo.

Unreal Engine (2015) A Boy and His Kite: Annotated Features

Restrictions in graphics because of computer capabilities is something that I’d love to see overcome. It’s really exciting seeing what Moran has done with Unreal Engine 4 to make quality film from procedurally generated environments/shading/light/rigs running in real time. Before I started this course I remember my main focus was on characters. Now I seem to spend most of my time designing environments. Composing character and environments together is something that I need/would like to improve upon.

Notes from Moran’s talk with us:

  • Look up projects which Moran has worked on: Hubert’s Brain?, Samaratan, Elemental, Kite
  • Epic – the game engine takes precedence?
  • Unreal Engine 4
  • Kite – did this take 3 months to make?
  • People get tired of great/beautiful quite quick. You need something more than beauty to keep the audience engaged.
  • Kite involved using 100m2 of procedural generation to make a film.
  • Always have a clear idea of what you’re going to animate and then gather reference for depending on how real/cartoony you want. Analyse the shot in your head and then act out in order to feel the frame of mind of the character.
  • An interview is to prove that you’re not a sociopath. If you’ve been asked for an interview, it means that your CV ticks the boxes for skills but now your personality needs to be tested.
  • Check out “Thief in the Shadows” VR.
  • It’s better to over-communicate.
  • Keep your showreel entertaining and a max of 2mins.

Guest Speaker: Gerard Dunleavy

I admit that I felt the self-doubt in my abilities creeping in after listening to Dunleavy’s talk. Self-doubt aside, Dunleavy’s work is among the most inspirational for me. The level of quality of work on his website is definitely something that I would aspire to. During his talk, he commented on how taste/standard of quality is more important than what software you know. I really like the cinematic feel in his work and feel that I need to strive harder to bring this level of finish to my own work.

I have always felt that being a concept artist/mood painter would be a dream job for me. However, I always look at my own work and tell myself how bad it is. I need to stop letting negativity stop me from progressing and just practice until I can make it. Looking at Dunleavy’s work has also made me more interested in how I could use matte painting techniques to make stronger imagery. This is not something which I have looked into much yet.

Notes from Dunleavy’s talk with us:

  • For concepts, taste is more important than technical skills. Technical skills can be taught but you need to bring your own taste/quality of work to a project. E.g. is your photography screen ready?
  • Gerard commented about how nobody in the studio could be considered a beginner. Even as someone starting out your work needs to be at least at mid-level.
  • Showreel advice: Demonstrate that you can do one thing really well. Ground your work in reality. Work on a project that you’re passionate about. Pretend it’s for a real project e.g. an advert and present it that way. Keep it simple.
  • Make your CV specific for the job. Also be specific about what particular skills you have. Don’t just say ‘expert at Maya’.
  • Develop good foundations.

Guest Speaker: Niall Carlin


Image from:

Niall Carlin’s LinkedIn:

Niall Carlin showreel 2015 from Double Jump Studios on Vimeo.

Looking back, Niall Carlin’s showreel in particular interests me. From recently talking to Iglu Media about possible placement opportunities, there seems to be a demand for work created using After Effects, motion graphics and compositing. Until recently I had been searching through studios whose work required skills that I feel I had more practice in such as concept art, lighting, texturing and modeling. However, I’m now also considering how graphic design, motion graphics and compositing could also open up a lot of possibilities, both in where I could seek employment and also where I could take my own personal projects. I also feel that I haven’t been putting enough time into my animation skills so placement year/now seems as good a time as any to improve these skills.

I sometimes worry that as a generalist I could spread myself too thin and not be able to master one particular thing. It’s always a shot to my confidence when I start a particular task in a project and the results are uninspiring or so full of error that it distracts from the message or experience. It seems reasonable that I should spend as much time managing my focus this year as anything else, push to be as efficient with my time as possible and structure myself to a clear learning plan. Sounds great when I write it down.

Notes from Carlin’s talk with us:

  • Develop fundamental skills e.g. design theory and typography.
  • Develop creative thinking.
  • You need a hero to compare yourself to.
  • Get more criticism e.g. get comments on your blog, join communities.
  • Make cut-off points to meet deadlines.
  • Ask why, not how.