Motion graphics is a profession in high demand these days; it is a profession that branches into many unexpected directions. It’s a discipline that can be seen across almost every form of screen based media on offer today; whether its movies, television, computer games, apps, social media, education and even screens that follow you down the escalators on your way to and from work.
Every industry needs a motion graphics designer. But how can you get started?
Peter Allinson, Head of Design at UKTV offers his top five tips for career success.
1. Stay in school
A lot of people think that qualifications on a CV are not as important as they once were and that getting industry experience is the best way to get ahead. In my opinion, this assumption is not always a safe bet. Spending time honing your skills under the guidance of those already in the field is time well spent. It is not about that little line on your CV saying that you have a BA Hons in something ‘arty farty’ but rather about the knowledge and understanding of the craft that you develop and the discussions that you have with your creative peers as you muddle through, trying to find your way. This should be a time to develop your passion and begin to explore a field that you can excel in, later in life. Your academic years could prove to be the most important years of your life so don’t waste them.
2. Learn the basics
A strong graphic design background is a very helpful spring-board into the world of motion graphics and animation. Having the ability to effectively communicate through graphic design is an essential skill for any motion designer. Equally, having the technical ability to execute this communication in a beautiful and engaging way, will really put you head and shoulders above the rest. For this reason, I would urge anyone that wants to pursue motion graphics to have a solid understanding of graphic design and communication before taking the leap. You should know how to use pixels well, before you start to make them move.
Don’t jump straight onto the animation tools, but instead learn to master Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. They will be valuable tools for you in the future and will add those important strings to your bow if you are lucky enough to get involved in a large multimedia campaign.
Once you have a good understanding of graphic design, the transition to motion graphics should be a far more organic one. This is the time to truly master those key programs such as After Effects and Cinema4D, as well as the wealth of animation tools and plugins that should help to elevate your work even higher.
3. Work hard and be persistent
For those that want to take their first steps into motion graphics – be persistent. Don’t rely on other people to achieve your ambitions. Be pro-active and get your name out there as often as you can. It takes a lot of knocking on doors because there's a lot of competition in the industry, so be prepared for rejection as our industry can be quite a fickle one. Most importantly though, never lose your passion and determination. Be ambitious and target your favorite studios by making a hit-list of the very best in the business. Send them all a message, along with your CV and portfolio, because you will never know unless you give it a go. Try and find out who the creative director is and contact them directly. If you are smart with your google searches, you can often find their email address online.
If you want to get noticed as a motion designer, a website or online portfolio is usually very useful and acts as a shop window into what you can offer. During the recruitment process, I put quite a lot of importance on personal websites and showreels to get a feel for what they can offer. In fact, when I am recruiting a new member of my design team; if an applicant does not have a website or a showreel, I simply ignore them and move on.
Cut a showreel and showcase it clearly on your website. Make sure to keep your showreel short and snappy and be inventive with your choice of track. It needs to stand out from the other hundreds of thousands of showreels that are competing for attention.
The most important thing is to keep focused, stay passionate and be persistent. All the hard work will be worth it when you land that dream job and once you get your foot on the ladder, the only way is up.
4. Don’t be a dick!
This can be said not just at the beginning of your career, but for the entirety of it. There is a famous saying that goes ‘nice guys finish last’. But during my 10 years in the industry, I can safely say that this is bullshit. In fact, I believe the complete opposite is true. To thrive in the creative industry, you need to have a good attitude and the ability to collaborate effectively with others. If you treat your colleagues and team members badly or with a nasty attitude, they will simply not want to work with you. Be kind, helpful and supportive in order to gain your colleagues respect, so that you can collaborate in a pleasant working environment and work together to achieve the greatest possible results.
5. Never grow up
The key to greater creativity is to not take your work (or life for that matter) too seriously. The sheer naivety, curiosity and recklessness we used to have as children is often lost as we grow up and gain more responsibilities. We are lucky enough to be in an industry in which having fun and trying new ideas should be encouraged, so don’t lose that childlike enthusiasm where creativity has no bounds. I urge you all to think like Peter Pan… and never grow up. No idea should be viewed as a bad idea, so lose your inhibitions and start creating work you can be proud of because at the end of the day, if you can show pride in your portfolio your dream job should not be so far, far away.
Peter Allinson will be taking part in the RTS Futures VFX & Animation: Meet the Experts panel on Tuesday 23 May.
Find out more or book a place.