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Recruitment ■ ■ ■ ■ Generalists vs. Specialists Another consideration for those entering the CG job market is how much to invest in one particular area of knowledge. “In video games, the general rule is that smaller studios tend to favor candidates with broad or generalist skill sets, whereas larger houses prefer specializa- tion,” says Scanlon. Lumière goes the middle path, looking for specialists with at least one more skill set. Ex- amples include a compositor who also does matte painting, or a rigger who can animate. “T is allows us to work more as a team rather than in individual groups,” says Zervos. So, while waiting for those callbacks, it might be worth an applicant’s time to bone up on at least one additional discipline. Full Time vs. Short Term For many years now, the larger fi lm studios have done a lot of their hiring on a per-project basis. Game studios, according to Scanlon, are more likely to hire full-timers. One diff erence Zervos has observed recently at Lumière is that more applicants are looking for permanent or longer-term positions. “It is much harder to get artists for short contracts,” she says. “T ose who have jobs seem to be more interested in CG Salaries How much can a CG professional expect to earn? Studios are understandably reluctant to divulge salaries, and of course, the ranges vary greatly, but a ballpark idea can be gained from several sources, particularly as many studios are union shops for which the pay scale is a matter of public record. Disney Animation’s Animation Guild contract, for example, specifi es a current minimum payment for experienced or journeyman-level artists, from animators to lighting specialists, of $39.133 per hour, or $1565.32 per week for a 40-hour workweek. For positions like assistant animator, assistant lighter, or assistant technical director, the mini- mum pay is $33.49 per hour, or $1339.60 per week. A list of studios covered by the Animation Guild can be found at According to fi gures from the International Game Developers Association, sala- ries for CG artists in the gaming industry range from $57,000 a year for an artist with one to two years’ experience, to $68,000 for a lead artist or art director with six or more years of experience. Of course, salaries can be much lower for entry- level positions at studios, and go well into six fi gures for top producers. According to job-seeker search engine, the average salary for a senior character animator in the US is $62,000. And the US Bureau of Statistics reports that the average salary for a multimedia artist and animator in 2008 was $62,380, with jobs in the motion-picture and video industries averaging $71,910, and those in advertising and public relations in the range of $57,740. It should be noted that many CG professionals are paid hourly rather than annually. Of course, salaries vary depending on country and region. Artists generally earn more in Los Angeles than in, say, the Midwest. On the other hand, it costs more to live in Los Angeles. As always, fl exibility is key. “I don’t see the crazy bidding wars we used to have,” says Fringe Talent’s Debra Blanchard, who advises job applicants to be willing to compromise on the issue of salary, “especially if it’s a job you really want.” –Jennifer Austin One trend among a number of studios, including Double Negative, is to hire artists for short-term contracts, which are usually renewed until the person eventually becomes a permanent employee. Continual work, such as on fi lms like Kick-Ass, enables Dneg to maintain this trend. staying put, whereas a few years ago, we had a lot more selection when hiring short term.” At Double Negative, as at many other studios, employees are hired on short-term contracts, but those contracts are typically renewed. “We hire most people on a six- to 12-month basis but look at them as long-term employees, nor- mally on rolling contracts,” says Acock. “After four years, they become permanent staff , and we have quite a large number of permanent employees now due to length of service. We don’t tend to ramp up just for specifi c projects and then downsize afterward; we try to keep people long term.” Recruiters Most studios contacted by CGW claim to use very few recruiters. “It used to be that the agencies had a lot of special contacts,” says EA’s Nicola. “But the Internet has leveled the play- ing fi eld somewhat. Still, companies are using them, as both Blanchard and Scanlon can at- test to. “Groups with an in-house recruitment staff often rely on DAM to complement in- house eff orts on hard-to-fi ll positions,” says Scanlon. “Smaller groups without internal re- cruiters lean on DAM to develop and manage their entire staffi ng and recruitment process.” The Long View T ose in the job market, whether newcomers or seasoned performers, and in good times or bad, should take heart and keep the following advice in mind: “Talented veterans are always in demand, especially those who can lead and mentor; creative types are not always the best managers,” says Scanlon. Yet, studios seem to understand that everyone has to begin some- where. Says Nicola, “My philosophy in hiring is to look for people with skills you can’t teach.” Acock advises: “In a competitive market, it is more important than ever to get the basics right. Ensure that your show reel is working hard for you; there should never be any excess or diluted work that will detract from the main event, which, for us, should be the fi rst 15 sec- onds of any reel.” Last, despite it being the dig- ital age, never underestimate the importance of face-to-face contact. “When at all possible, says Acock, “make the most of conferences as a chance to meet potential employers—a smile and a ‘hello’ go a long way.” ■ Jennifer Austin is a freelance writer based in New England. August/September 2010 45 Courtesy Universal Pictures

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