End of the Semester

Looking back on this module, it’s shocking how much I’ve learnt about the industry. This module has definitely gave me the starting step into looking for a placement. If you’re reading this hopefully you’ve read some of my other posts and can see that I still have a lot to improve on but thats the industry folks.. So much to learn and hopefully create. Pulling my head out of the clouds over my break I’ll be focusing on looking a placement and putting everything I’ve learnt into practice, improving my cover letter and personalising it for each company I apply to, also improving my showreel and working on my animations.

Getting the chance to hear from some of the guest speakers Greg had in or had Skype in was unbelievable! Reflecting on my notes from each speaker the advice each of them gave us, kind of mix together. The same things were being repeated so I guess it’s just a matter of where you travel or work the same principles and work ethic apply. The industry is a lot smaller than I expected. Creating a good name and reputation seems to go very far. I also noticed the majority of our guest speakers had that one year were they solely focused on their work, improving themselves and learning something they were passionate about. In my bubble I thought that this course will teach you everything and you’ll have no problem finding a job when it ends, but that’s not the case. I’m happy that’s not the case because now I realise that this industry is never ending, there will always be something new and exciting to learn! It also seems that this industry is full of interesting people, I’ve decided to make note of that and promise to pick everybody and anybody’s brain I ever get the chance to speak with.

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Creating a Website

The first step in creating my website was to choose a site to make it on. After my first draft on SquareSpace I decided it wasn’t for me, I didn’t really like any of the layouts that were on offer. I moved to Weebly and started new!

http://www.aislingmcelroy.com/

I really wanted a simple look, something clear and to the point. I didn’t want anything to be too complicated. Keeping it personal and try to make it as “ME” as possible I tried to bring a essence of my background and things I care about. My opportunity to do this was in the about me;

Dia duit! My name is Aisling McElroy, I’m currently an Animation student in the Belfast School of Art.

A hopeless dreamer and an eager learner, I’m always trying to enhance my skills and grab every opportunity that comes my way.

Being a movie buff from a young age influenced me to create birthday DVDs for my family, to be like one of the greats (I wish). Mixing my love for film and art with digital platforms slowly followed as I grew. Understanding the importance of the little things is key in my work, after all they are what matters most!

I consider myself a key team player. To that effect, I helped launch a new society called “UUB Creatives”. One of the most successful societies on campus, we created it in the hope of breaking down barriers between courses, creating a new age creative community in Northern Ireland and connecting people from all over.

Growing up bilingual with a rich celtic language helped me to realise that being unique is good, and that every culture and person that I meet has something to offer that can inspire and teach me to grow, explaining my keen love of travel and connecting with others wherever I go!

Everybody has a story to tell and I hope you become a part of mine. 

Using my Irish is second nature so it had to become a part of my website even if it was the simple hello and welcome… Marketing me I wanted to show every aspect of me not just my work but my background, my personality, who I’ve become, who I want to become and what my aims are.

Next was my showreel and then portfolio. Explaining in each part what exactly I done in each piece/project. Finally ending with my blog, cv and contact page! Simple and to the point.

 

Mock interview

This day came way too quickly! I felt slightly unprepared even though we had been through group exercises and a lecture on common interview questions.

A common opening question is “Tell me about yourself”, this allows the interviewers to get to know you better, it’s also putting you on the spot and seeing how you react. They’re giving you complete control and it’s up to us to take full advantage of it, major don’t do – tell them your life story. Keep your answer pertinent and try not to go off topic. A good answer to this is usually 2/3 minutes long and briefly covering your education, interest in the field, work history and experience. Unfortunately I went off topic but brought it back (I hope) towards the end once it was pointed out that I had gone slightly off topic… damn my rambling!

“Why should you get this job?” This is to provoke a personal sales pitch, it’s our chance to tell them why we’re best for the role! Do not mess this up! “I really need money…”

Salary expectations where definitely a major conversation amongst the class before our mock interviews because now that most of us are actually looking paid placements, we weren’t sure what to expect and none of us wanted to sell ourselves short or be unrealistic. A few friends and I decided roughly 16,000 a year would be good for a student on placement.

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?” You have to show that you are thinking about your future, your ambition to progress in the industry. It’s import to tailer your answer to the position and company you are applying for, most of us will be applying for entry level positions therefore we should explain what role we eventually want to work towards in their company or in general. Most importantly we were told to show passion for the industry, if you’re excited then it’ll come across and hopefully excited the interviewers. Fitting your career gaols around the organisations objectives and ambitions. It’s also important to sell yourself! Exploit your strengths.

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Nobody’s perfect and interviewers/employers know that. You have to be honest with this answer. The best answer is to address one of your weaknesses, give practical examples then follow up with how you are improving and addressing this. This means that your weakness will soon become a strength.

I personally feel like my strengths are in communication skills, I’m very much a people person and love socialising. After the interview was over we got feedback the following week. This is one of my problems, I never exploited my software skills and actual work skills. I talked too much on the topic of a good crew, a good team working environment. It was also mentioned about me going off topic in the beginning and how I speak too quickly. It’s definitely a learning curve and I’m so grateful that we had this opportunity, not only for the mock interview but for also getting a change to meet Paula from NI Screens and Ross from Black North.

Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter was a real struggle for me, not knowing what I want to do meant I didn’t know which role to write about never mind where was I applying. For the mock interview we had to make belief a job we were applying therefore I applied for a generalist. See below;

Hi!

My name is Aisling McElroy; I’m an animation student in Ulster University’s Belfast School of Art. I’m currently looking for a six to ten month placement in the coming months. Please find attached a link to my website where you can find out a little bit more about who I am, my portfolio and my showreel.

I consider myself to be a hard working individual and a key team member that is willing to take initiative when needed. I would love to further develop the skills I’ve learnt and gain more experience in the animation industry by (hopefully) joining your company. I feel like the smaller details are always the most important which pushes me to have an interest in set design, pre and post production, animation, cg modeling, pretty much a taste for all aspects of the development of a project. I would welcome any opportunity to meet and be grateful for a chance to show you my work and give you a better taste of who I am and what I can bring to you. I’m excited to hear back from you!

Thanks,

Aisling

After the mock interview in a meeting with Sixteen South, Colin and Michelle mentioned production management and explained the role and what it entailed.  They thought I would be good at it, and after telling us about their production manager Megan it seemed that we were both very similar, personality and work ethic wise. I got the chance to meet with her in our last meeting and she told me more about the role. I’m still figuring out the industry roles and where I think I would like to go but production management is definitely something I’ll be looking into the only downfall is I won’t be able to create things and animate but there is always the option of personal work.

CV

I was never good with words and creating the cv and cover letter scared me. So many thoughts came flooding in whenever I started creating the cv – I don’t have much industry experience well not the right industry experience, I don’t know who to direct it too yet, do I add in my education? It has to be short right?

After many thoughts I finally just knuckled down and created this based off of samples I found online;

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/q3g62c590imeo83/AAArbDEAtKAZD2WsNcSMNmsda?dl=0

Creating my Showreel

Creating my first professional showreel is so daunting! First things first was to get a rough mock up of it with pieces of work I considered to be good, narrow it down and add music! Below was my first cut;

After  showing to more students and teachers in the class I gained a mix of feedback;

  • Cutting the clips on beat
  • Maybe take out all the live action footage- make a separate showreel?
  • Raise the audio for the lip sync – maybe mute the music and bring it back in after
  • Music is too distracting
  • Put your best stuff first
  • It’s too long
  • Add wireframe
  • Lighting on models need to be brighter
  • Animation needs worked on
  • Take out baby animation “it’s the weakest”

From that I knew I had to be brutal and change a lot. It’s tough because what you think is good might not be to others. Taking on feedback and criticism is a opportunity to improve, it’s what all of our guest speakers spoke about and it’s what we’ve been learning to improve on in the past two years. Below was my final showreel before our mock interviews;

Looking back I do think the feedback helped a lot, I know it’s not the strongest showreel but in time it will get better! I know I want to fix a few things after this semester;

  1. I want to wireframe my other models (I need to tidy the topology on them)
  2. I’m hoping to continue UV mapping the house on wheels and texture it over the break.
  3. I want to fix my animations
    1. I want to work further on the baby animation, adding weight and anticipation
    2. The lip sync;
      1. The arm jolts slightly and doesn’t look organic
      2. Some of the mouth shapes need held longer
      3. Her head moves a bit floaty
      4. I need to act it out more to make the movement in a whole more organic

But for now I’ll focus on mock interviews and completing my other projects in time for hand in, the fun stuff can wait!

Cover Letter research and Getting a url

Writing a good cover letter is extremely important. A cover letter is usually the first bit of contact, the first taste of YOU the employer reads. A cover letter allows you to target the job and employer that advertised. It should explain as to why you should be employed, why you want to work for them and why you’re the best fit. Below are some more informative website articles I found researching what and how a cover letter should be written;

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/

https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/03/what-makes-a-great-cover-letter-according-to-companies/

http://www.theguardian.com/careers/covering-letter-examples

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/cvs-and-cover-letters/cover-letters

http://www.monster.co.uk/career-advice/article/why-tailoring-the-cover-letter-is-critical

https://www.studentjob.co.uk/info/seven-tips-for-writing-a-good-cover-letter

A few points where mentioned in class;

  • Personalized to each company
  • Dear [insert carefully researched name here]
  • I love your work on “insert film/game/etc. here”
  • ‘I like doing this’. Show the company what aspects of the industry that you are interested in.
  • I would be a good fit for your company because…

So our next big thing was to create our own website! Or to get a move on anyway with it. Using Weebly I created this;

http://460182807297809401.weebly.com/

It still needs a lot of work but it’s a starting point…