1) Could you tell me a little bit about yourself Tiffany? Where are you from and when, and how did you get started to have interest in this field?
Tiffany: I was born in Taiwan and lived in Australia since I was 5 years old. My interest in animation first came when I saw The Lion King at the movies, I bought a book on how to draw The Lion King from Disney world and I started drawing the characters from the film. I became so into drawing the characters I woke up at 5am to do some drawings before school. That's when I decided that animation was for me :) I love movement and these drawings can move. I did a few short courses on animation during highschool, then I went to university to study computer animation. Since then I've worked at 3 studios (Photon VFX, Flying Bark Productions and Ambience Entertainment) working on 3 different children's tv series (Animalia, Zeke's Pad and Erky Perky).
2) How hard is it for a recent graduate to break into the business? Is there a difference for a reel for games, animation, and live action(VFX animation)?
Tiffany: It really depends on perseverance, talent, connections and sometimes luck. In Australia, and I think most places, you are more likely to get into tv and games studios as a graduate. Film is definitely possible however rare. The reels are different especially when it comes to VFX animation, if you prefer to do cartoony animation then your reel should have cartoony characters, if you want to work in realistic animation then your reel should reflect that. Another thing I learned is, get into the industry even if it isn't exactly what you want, but always persevere with your chosen field. Make it clear what it is you're after but do a great job with what you're hired to do. You will eventually get there.
3) How is it like working? Is it an intimidating work environment when you start off? How many seconds of animation is the quota per week? And I was wondering if you know or would know someone who could tell me how many models are required for their quota since I specialize in modeling.
Tiffany: My first job at a studio was really good. Photon was a really great environment with a nice balance of juniors, mid level and really experienced people. My rigging lead was from Dreamworks and he taught me so much it was slightly overwhelming in the beginning. I would say a lot of my knowledge was learned on the job. In animation it really helped to ask for feedback and look at what other people were doing. Generally most people in the industry are willing to share. My quota varies with each job but I am currently doing 23 seconds per week. On my first job I did around 20 seconds per week. I dont know much about modelling quota, I think it depends on the style and detail of the character or set. I do however know an amazing modeller who I use to work with at Photon. His name is Billy Butler and his website is...http://www.pieanimation.com/3d.html
4) I was wondering what sort of animation work flow you had? Do you act it out in person, and do thumbnail sketches? Or do you dive right into the program and pose stuff out?
Tiffany: I am still working out my workflow, but I think my current one is working quite well. I do thumbnail drawings and use reference where possible, and then I block it out in Maya in stepped frames, pose to pose. After director feedback I usually do the fix, feedback, then go through and smooth everything out. There isnt much time to do much planning with a tv quota, but I believe planning has saved me from wasting the time that I have.
5) Do you have any suggestions for a recent graduate when constructing a modeling reel? I am focusing in modeling. I am looking at alot of reels... It seems like most modelers know how to texture very well, and also know how to rig their own stuff.
Tiffany: I think it's better to ask a modeller this question. However I do know that it's best to show as much work from your chosen skill as possible. It may help to have textures on your models to make things look better, however if you aren't confident with texturing and rigging then it's best to leave it off, otherwise it will affect your work. Unfinished, unpolished work can really distract a viewing. Personally I'm not so good at modelling characters, I do know how to rig and really want to animate, so with my first reel, I focused on the two skills and used blocks to represent my character. Apparently it worked. So if you are interested in modelling, I would focus on that rather than divide your time. Also, remember to show wireframes, as I see most modelling reels have that.
6) I noticed on your resume that you were a rigger for a while! Would you say its better to be multiskilled or still specialize in one area?
Tiffany: I would say it's best to have one really good skill but also do ok in other areas, especially in the beginning. When starting out it may be hard to find that perfect job for you chosen skill and it's likely you'll have to begin your career doing something else. It has certainly happened to me but doing rigging has gotten me close to animation and I've done animation ever since. I also find that this industry can be highly unpredictable, one year there may be a lot of animation jobs out there then the next year there isnt. In that case it's better to have skills in another area to stay employed. Rigging has been an eye opening experience, I've learned so much and I am a much cleaner animator because of it. I'm not sure if I will directly apply for a rigging job as rigging does involve a lot of programming (which I'm not good at) and there is a lot of problem solving however if I was offered a job in basic rigging, I wouldnt say no, who knows I may learn something new.
7) Do you have any other 2d or 3d artists who inspire you? Could you list their website or reel if possible? I am very curious to see as many talented people as I can.
Tiffany: I am inspired by the people I work with every day. I'm also doing the online course, Animation Mentor and the people there are constantly presenting new ideas and concepts. I'm not really the type to surf the internet and look at other people's work all the time. To me, I am really inspired by movement, by dance and watching animals move. However, if you are looking for websites, I like to look at http://www.furiae.com/ Linda Bergkvist is an amazing digital artist and I love her work.