Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Power of Networking

Since working in London, I've started attending different meet up and networking groups for animators. Many of my tutors have taught me the importance of networking, and I can't say for sure whether or not these animation groups can really work for someone, career wise. But, in terms of keeping up with what peers are doing in the industry, what other people think of your work, and just getting out and having a pint over an animation chat with like minded individuals, attending group meets really has highlighted the importance of networking to me. I wanted to share with my experience of each group, so hopefully it will inspire more to try a visit of two.

There are three groups I go to, are all in London. The first one I ever attended was Bring Your Own Animation, held in the Lukin pub, just off Great Portland Street. The idea of the group, is to go along and show some animation you've been working on, to a peer who will critique it for you. The level of criticism is excellent, most of the people who give up their time to view work, are lead or senior animators in studios across London, so their insight is excellent. I've been a few times, and whilst I've never shown my work to anyone, I've always had a good time. You don't have to be an animator either, people from across the industry go along too, such as modellers, concept artists and riggers. It's just a good excuse to have a good catch up with a pint.

The second group I go to, as often as I can, is the ACM Siggraph meets. They're usually on monthly and are more of a structured talk. Often held at MPC, or a bigger cinema, they are perfect for anyone who likes attending lecture style talks. Over the last year, the talks I've gone to have ranged from presentations from the creative team behind Big Hero 6 talking about how they developed their characters. As well as a talk by director of Penguins of Madagascar, Simon Smith. It's not solely animation focused either, they also host many talks that encompass more of a VFX angle too. The presenters are usually high profile, so there is always something to learn. The best thing is, it's free...usually. Recently, they started a membership programme, where you can get first access to reserving a ticket...but if you can't afford the £20 annual membership to suppor them, then don't worry, you should still be in the chance to get your hands on a ticket regardless.

Lastly, and so far my favourite, is Festivus. It's a social meet for anyone in the world of animation. I went for the first time last week and loved it. I got chatting to a guy who wrote one of the episode of Tree Fu Tom, that I animated on, I met a guy who worked on Disney's Tarzan, and chatted to people who worked solely in 2D animation, which was really interesting to chat about, with me coming from a 3D animation background. 

Keep an eye out for the next meets as they happen, and go along. For a few hours of your time, you could become inspired, strike up a new friendship...or just get drunk. What's not to love?
Marc x

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