The BPM meet up was last night and the topic was about Animation, information about the event is here.
The panellists consisted of Ron Friedman (panelist, Tencent Boston), John Lindemuth (panelist, Turbine Inc.), Andy Welihozkiy (panelist, Rockstar New England).
I'm only going to summarise what they covered, which included what they looked for in a animation reel, how best to present your work and what to look out for in doing good work.
The reel, they all agreed that the time should be around 1 min to 1:30 in length, starting out with your best piece but also ending with something strong and memorable, but you should also include your name and contact details at the start and end of the reel for convenience.
One tip they suggested for people who don't have a lot of samples in their reel is to break down the animation into segments, show off a particular part of a animation, break to another area and show that and then showing the whole sequence as a whole.
Using sound got a split response, couple of them would watch without sound just to get a sense of weight and style of animation, while one panellist liked seeing how you timed and edited your animation to the music/dialogue to see if you understood how your animation might be used. They all agreed to stay away from "funky" music though and if you don't have a reel that is well timed to the music to not have any.
Weight is a big part of animation, so they liked to see a whole character, don't zoom that character in on a particular motion, such as a hand shake, they want to see how the character stands and leans around as a whole, not just the particular motion of the hand shake, even if you add some silly jitters and coughs or what have you to bring the sequence to life.
More about weight, they often could tell if someone acted out their animation or used reference video because it added a more natural rhythm to the animation which is what they want to see, you using the best resources out there to make the best animation, so don't be afraid to look in a mirror and be goofy acting out the sequences, don't be afraid to use your webcam to record your motions. All good studios should have some sort of set up or space to do this.
Don't be afraid to include the bouncing ball in your reel if you can show good weight and life to the ball bouncing, they want to see you understand how things move, not necessarily have the most sexy looking models, but it is how you used them that impress and they appreciate seeing the basics. They want to see these basics because it shows you understand how a walk cycle works, how a ball moves around. If you understand that and also show a good little sequence you'll be in a good position because a cool sequence doesn't show that you understand all the fundamentals, just that you had a lot of time to tweak a certain animation, plus it gives you more content to show.