CAP 271 - Computer Animation Portfolio Project

Chapters 1 - 4

Objectives:

The text begins with some general ideas in the first four chapters. We will skim over this material. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Professions
  2. Self assessment
  3. Adapting your work
  4. Researching job prospects
  5. Portfolio format
Concepts:

The text begins in chapter 1 with an overview of what you might put in your portfolio. (This is chapter 2 of the second edition.) Some key aspects that you should include:

  • variety - show some different kinds of work you have done, but try to show off your strengths with each piece
  • style - figure out whether the entity you will apply to wants to see your style or a style dictated by the assignment
  • technology and craft - make sure your portfolio does not use "experimental" technology: it must work and be made correctly
  • process - showing the evolution of some pieces can show how you developed them

The chapter continues with a discussion of several types of professions that make use of portfolios in their résumés. The professions are grouped by the approach that might used in a portfolio for it.

  • art
  • 2D graphics
  • design
  • production
  • motion graphics
  • performance

Chapter 2 (second edition: chapter 1) begins with a self assessment questionnaire. There is no scoring, and there is no magic answer set. You should run through the questions to begin to focus on what you have already done, and what kind of work you want to do. Pay attention to what you haven't done, and start figuring out how to fill in the gaps. This goes along with the advice to examine your strengths and weaknesses, to define your goals, and begin thinking about making targeted portfolios for different possible employers.

The text goes on to define several things to leave out of a portfolio:

  • your résumé - a portfolio shows your work, it does not list your past employment
  • your autobiography - the portfolio is not a place to tell your life story, so leave that part of your life out of it
  • private jokes, and references - if your portfolio contains work that the client or employer doesn't understand, you may have lost their interest and gone the wrong direction
  • bad work - a portfolio should show off your best work, so if you don't have good work in some medium, don't include bad work just to have an example of it

Regarding the last point, if you have never done some kind of work, you can still come up with an example of that kind of work by creating your own example of what you would do for that kind of assignment. See the instructions for this on page 33 (second edition, page 17).

Assignment 1: Invention

  1. Consider the things you can put in your portfolio already, and pick something that is missing that you can address with 3DS Max.
  2. Read page 33 (second edition, page 17) in Designing a Digital Portfolio.
  3. Carry out the four steps in the assignment:
    1. Select a client - pick a real company to do a speculative project for
    2. Make sure you are filling a gap - the client must sell to a demographic you have not done work for
    3. Research - make this a habit: always research what the client already has, and who they are
    4. Set the design constraints - if you do not know what constraints apply to the kind of project you have picked, do the research to answer that question
  4. Turn in typed answers to the four points above by the start of week 2. Work on completing the project in class in week 2.

Chapter 3 discusses determining who you will send your portfolio to. It begins with an observation that everyone behaves a bit differently depending on who they are with. This is not an endorsement of not being true to yourself, it is an observation that you contain many parts, and you will be more successful in getting a job if you show the right parts to a prospective employer. Spinning that idea to the focus for this chapter, the author tells us to get to know prospective employers before sending a résumé or a portfolio for two reasons. First, make sure the prospective employer is someone you can spend time with. Second, make sure you show the parts of yourself to the employer that will get you the job and that you won't mind having to show on a daily basis.

On page 44 (second edition, page 54), chapter 3 offers another tool. This one is for market assessment. Ask yourself this series of questions to focus on what kind of company you want to work for. The series of questions, starting on page 43 (second edition, page 53), should also be answered:

  • Who is your target audience? You should ask this of yourself, of clients you may work for, and of employers you may work for.
  • What categories should you search? This is about web searches in particular, and means you should decide what kind of companies to check out.
  • What specific companies should you approach? Your research should lead you to companies that match your personality.
  • What do these organizations want from you? Your research should lead you to companies that match your skills and abilities.

The chapter has several bits of advice about searching for company information on the internet. It also suggests that you should research industry organizations and journals for more leads. It should be no surprise that the text recommends that you use personal networking as your best source of information on jobs. This is recommended by most job search books.

Chapter 4 begins with a discussion of the way you should present your portfolio to prospects. Some media ideas are discarded as old or unlikely to be universally viewable.

  • zip disks - the bottom line is that these are too old; when the book was written, they were more current (second edition: they are not mentioned)
  • mini-CDs - the main objection is that it might jam and ruin the CD player on a machine that is slot loaded (instead of tray loaded)

Better ideas are offered:

  • CDs - usually playable on all computers, if not on CD players; not a good idea if it will not play on the prospect's equipment, or if it is badly organized
  • DVDs - best choice for larger media; also needs to organized well
  • laptop - this leads to a different concept: making a presentation to a prospect on your own equipment; effective, but it is unlike the other media that can be mailed to prospects
  • email - a quick way to send a sample of your work. but the recipient's email account may limit the size of the file you can send, making it less effective than providing a disc
  • web site - this allows you to change and update material, but it involves the expense of having a web site and a domain name (if you go that far)

    new in second edition:
  • self-publishing sites - Flickr and YouTube provide free space to post photos and videos, respectively. Think about what you post, and what screen name you use for it. Also, be aware that it is less likely that someone will find you one that site than one of your own.
  • social networking sites - Facebook has lots of hits, but it is debatable whether there is value to putting a professional image on it. You might consider services like LinkedIn, whose purpose is to make professional connections.