A guide to working in an animation studio for the first time

Welcome to your first day in an animation studio.

So you’ve completed your course, and landed your first job. Or you have been enterprising enough to get an internship while you are still in college. Either way, working in an animation studio is very different from the classroom. All the theory cannot prepare you for the actual demands of the job. In this blog post, we provide you a guide to working in an animation studio for the first time. After all, it is best to be as prepared as possible.

Is this supposed to be fun?

Working in an animation studio

Yes, it is, and no, it is not. Before you get too confused, let’s simplify this for you. This is the biggest challenge of working in an animation studio. The place will mostly look like a summer camp. There will be gossip, casual clothing, planned activities, and snacks. But there is also a lot of work to be done.

During your first month on the job, you may be tempted to say a few of these (more than once!) to your team lead/ director:

“This isn’t teaching me anything.”

“This is not part of my job.”

“I don’t know how to do this.”

“I didn’t finish it because it wasn’t important.”

Take our advice; don’t say any of these, or anything remotely similar to these. Your first day could become your last in the team. Working in an animation studio is not directly connected with your own personal interest; you are there to be a part of a team, and a project. Always remember, you are the newest member of the team, and you have to prove your worth. Make every second count. No one on the team should have any doubt about whether you deserve to come back the next day or not. Instead of looking for fun, look for what more can you do to help the team succeed.

Hold the key

Working in an animation studio

No one is indispensable. But that does not mean that you can’t try. After all, can you imagine Pixar without John Lasseter? Each day will be different while working at an animation studio. Each day will bring new experiences, and new obstacles. And then there would be days when you will hold the key. Unless you complete your job correctly & effectively, the project cannot move ahead. Make sure that you are the best person for the job. Being under the spotlight can prove to be a lot of pressure. But concentrate on the bright side. This is also your opportunity to prove your worth. Do your best, so that next time someone needs to get a job done, your name is the first to pop up.

Presentation matters

Working in an animation studio

Working in an animation studio is a team effort. Therefore, everyone is constantly trying to find the right set of people to rely on. Knowing your job, and doing it right, may not be enough. You also have to be a people’s person; someone they can come to for discussions, instead of someone who scares them away. Little things you do will make a huge difference:

  • Keep your work station clean & organised. At times it may be chaotic but it should not be messy. You should know where each thing is, and how it fits the entire picture.
  • Dress for the occasion. No one expects you to be dressed in a business suit. But dress smart. No one likes a sloppy dresser. Whether meeting the team or the CEO or the client, you should make an impression. After all, casual is good, but this is not your friend’s birthday party.
  • Act your age. Being fun is not equal to being childish. Having fun or sharing a joke is fine, but don’t be the joker all the time. Making other people aware of your presence by being loud or weird is not appreciated at work place. Your work should be enough to get you noticed, without these extra efforts.
  • Punctuality is important. You can have a million excuses like a bad traffic jam or the pesky landlord. But a late person usually is not trusted with important conversations & responsibilities. The creative industry works on the rule, “everything needs to be completed yesterday”. To keep up the pace, plan everything in advance, and be on time.
  • Present your work with care. You always get the treatment that you give others. The same applies to your work. If you don’t care about or respect your work, no one will. Don’t expect people to guess the details or understand your ideas magically. Present them in a proper manner so that it is easy to understand. Even a small thing like spell checking your texts before sending can go a long way in establishing the accuracy of your work.
  • No dirty linen in public. You may be facing a personal crisis or you may not be getting along with a particular person at work. Don’t create a scene. And don’t interfere in other people’s affairs. If people don’t respect you, then the brilliance of your work will only take you so far.

You are the face of your team; don’t let them down

Each member of a team is the face of the team. Being the newest member you cannot shirk responsibility. Your behaviour and attitude will reflect on the reputation of the team. Make sure that your behaviour gives no one an opportunity to point a finger. You don’t want to become the ‘problem’ department – the one whose delays are met with scorns, whose problems are met with eye rolls, and who are routinely blamed for everything that goes wrong.

Ask the right questions

You don’t always have to have all the answers. It is alright to have questions. But you need to know which questions to ask, and when. Before you ask your questions to someone else, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I solve this problem on my own?
  • Is this question top priority in the current order of things?
  • Is this the right person to answer the question?

Your answers will determine whether you should ask the question or not.

Following-up is a skill

During the daily course of your work, you will need to interact not only with your own team members but also with members of other teams. When assigned a task that requires such coordination, it is your responsibility to see it to the end. Answers like, “he/she has not responded” or “he/she is delaying the job” are unacceptable. Successful completion of a task is as much your responsibility as the other person. Blame game will only hamper the project. Follow-up regularly, without being pushy or bossy. Monitor the progress of the work but don’t breathe down the person’s neck.

It’s truly no fun. Now what?

Sometimes working in an animation studio may truly be boring & monotonous. It could be one of those days when the director loses control; people have bad ideas, and worse communication skills. But this is when you need to hold it all in place. Any studio/production house can have a bad day. That does not mean that you do not put your best efforts. Make the best of your situation, and don’t burn bridges.

Working in an animation studio may not be rosy & fun all the time. The key is to be patient, and do your best. Over a period of time you will be recognised not only for your work, but also as Mr./Ms. Dependable.


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