There's no doubt that to get your animation skills noticed, you need to stand out above the crowd from the outset.
As a creative industry, your animation skills might be impeccable, but they're subjective. Regardless of how qualified you are to complete an animation project, you need to have everything in place to get noticed by those who have the power to employ you.
And the most effective way to get noticed is with a powerful portfolio.
To maximise your opportunities for your career and to make sure your awesome animation skills don't pass a potential employer unnoticed, follow these seven simple tips to create a portfolio that won't fail to get you noticed.
1) Direct your portfolio at a specific market.
While your portfolio should be made up of a wide range of pieces that showcase your skills in different areas, you must also include specific pieces which are solely aimed at the job you're applying for.
There's little point focussing your portfolio around character animation if you're hoping to get hired by a gaming company, and vice versa. It's important to do your research and look at company employees who have been a success before you to understand the style and areas of specialisation that the company is looking for in their employees. Add pieces that match their style and the type of animator you want to grow into so that they can see the direction you want your career to take.
2) Show a wide range of skills.
Whether you specialise in drawn, model, stop-motion animation, or computer-generated imagery, it would be prudent to create a portfolio for each subject.
If someone is interested in video animation as your skill, that's what they'll look for in your portfolio. Don't limit your opportunities by only covering the basics, go in-depth for each portfolio to show you have a comprehensive understanding of the principles required for each discipline that you're skilled in.
3) Make your direction clear.
It's all very well listing all your animation skills and making an animation portfolio that's bursting at the seams, but you need to be specific about the direction you want your career to take. There's little point including all your work from when you studied 3D animation if you really want to move in the direction of motion graphics. Yes, versatility is good, but by including too much you risk overwhelming your potential employers and not getting noticed at all.
Include your unique approach to solving problems and make clear your point of difference to your competitors to give yourself the leading edge and, remember, less can often be more.
4) (Show)reel in your audience!
While creating a portfolio is a detailed exercise, in the initial glimpses it's only ever going to get a quick browse, not an in-depth analysis. You need to make sure your portfolio contains pieces which stand out and grab the attention of your audience.
Be unique, original, and smart with the animations you choose and choose pieces that reflect your personality, and the personality of your characters. Of course, it's important that your most technical work appears here, but you only have a small window of opportunity to impress so the characters need to stand out and convey emotion. Your technical skills can be assessed in more depth further along the interview process, but only if your emotion draws them in to want to investigate you further.
5) Be interesting.
Ultimately, animation is about entertaining viewers and your portfolio needs to show that you can do this flawlessly.
Creating a connection with your viewers is so much more than just your animation skills and it's vital that your portfolio is interesting and engaging. If you can't do that there, it's unlikely that a potential employer will follow up with you regardless of how good your technical skills.
6) Regularly update your online show reel.
I'm assuming that you have your own personal website here to showcase your skills, and if that's not the case that's my next tip. It's the easiest and most effective way to share a link with others. There's no doubt that the animation industry is fast moving with new techniques and competitors emerging all the time, so it's essential that your show reel highlights your most recent and relevant work.
Your online presence is crucial to your success so a hard copy of your portfolio is futile as it simply can't be updated as often as is required (well, it can, but this will take a lot of ongoing time and effort). You can upload your stills to your website too and your links can be embedded in applications or correspondence with prospective employers.
7) Make sure all work is your own.
I'd like to think this one goes without saying but everything in your online portfolio should have been created by you and you alone. Including the work of others either plagiarised or simply because you like their style should be avoided at all costs.
It's entirely your responsibility to create a strong online portfolio, you never know who's going to come across it and the work that it'll lead to so it's important that it's clear, concise and most importantly, gives a unique view of who you are.
What helped you create the perfect animation portfolio? Let us know in the comments below!