Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rhythm & Hues Recruitment Presentation

Notes from Rhythm and Hues Recruitment Presentation in Denver (12.4.09)
with Barbara McCullough – Recruiter for R&H
(Notes by: Keleigh Asbury, Career Services Advisor, AiColorado – Denver)

One of the big things that Barbara emphasized was that the Animation/VFX industry “is” freelance. When you work for R&H or any of the other studios (Sony, DreamWorks, Digital Domain, Double Negative) you are working “for” the industry at large. In fact, your performance at any one of these studios can determine whether you get hired on by any of the others.

22 years ago John Hues started Rhythm and Hues.

They have an office in Los Angeles (USA), Mumbai/Hyberdad (India), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia);
LA office only hires for the LA office and so on…

The studios expand and contract based on project needs. Recruiting is a little different for the Asian offices as the stronger mix of talent is in the US, so training issues are always important. Eventually, those artists will be as good (it’s required of the studio) as the talent in the US.

R&H is know for its 3d character animation and VFX – talking animals especially and blending live action characters into a 3d environment. But they also do print, design and web work for clients and projects.

Past projects that were shown in the demo reel at the presentation: The Hulk, The Golden Compass, Happy Feet, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Chronicles of Narnia, Superman Returns, A Night at the Museum, The Fast and the Furious, The Mummy, Garfield.

Upcoming projects they mentioned: The A-Team, Cabin in the Woods, Little Fockers, Marmaduke, Percy Jackson and the Olympiacs.
Depending on the volume of work in a project, there is usually one main studio that works on a major project/film and then there are other studios hired as well based on their specialty.

R&H received an Oscar for VFX achievement for “The Golden Compass” in 2008. It had 64 CG characters created for the film. In 1995, they won for “Babe”.

Directors and producers usually come to R&H to hire them to do the CGI for their films and TV commercials. Only sometimes does R&H actually get handed a script or even a storyboard for a project. (R&H doesn’t create the project), often the client does not know what it wants. Project is established through discussions with the VFX supervisor/digital supervisor, and department representatives from modeling, animation, effects, compositing, and production management.

Mentioned hiring disciplines at R&H (not limited to):
- Art and Design – concept, character design, matte painting (concept and character design are NEVER junior positions)
- Animation – match movers/trackers, character rigging, technical animation
- Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Effects
- Technical Support
- Production Personnel – (not artistic), production assistants - mostly junior level

Software Used at R&H: Mostly proprietary, Maya, ZBrush, Photoshop, Bodypaint 3d, and Houdini

Education: Usually 2-4 weeks are dedicated to getting the new hire up to speed on software and pipeline work. You don’t have to have a B.A., but the most successful hires at the studio have a degree. Ongoing training is provided as needed. There is a “wiki”-based learning environment at R&H. It allows all employees and the studio to contribute to the knowledge pool.

What does R&H look for in their applicants?
- People skills!! – If you’ve had a customer service job, they want to know about it. They want to know that you can work with people. It’s absolutely a team-oriented environment in the studio. Must be able to get along with people.
- Critical thinkers, problem solvers, trouble shooters, good communication skills
- Able to work independently and in teams
- Able to deal with deadlines – this is a business!!
- Honesty, integrity, respect for others and the work environment
- Ability to embrace the concept of life-long learning
- Bachelors or masters degree preferred, or significant amount of professional experience
- Highly specialized demo reel or focus due to the volume of work (R&H wants to know what your passion is?
- The ability to cross-train, but not necessarily

Barbara mentioned that it is important to “mold your own career”. Take responsibility of your finances and career goals. The ability to make it as a freelancer is crucial.

Hiring season? Coincides with summer release dates and/or holidays.

Animation/VFX industry is 2/3 Freelance. R&H will try to roll you over to another project but it not guaranteed. Most contracts are for 6 months. The recruiting department at R&H stays in contact with other company departments to let them know when projects are over and there may be a flood of people in the market for a job. (There is actually a very small pool of the same people doing the work.) Often they offer offsite recruiting events for each studio. VFX industry is largely composed of project hours.

It’s important to know as an artist that the person sitting next to you at your current job may be a resource for your next job.

How to apply to Rhythm & Hues:
- Cover letter – state what you want to do
- Resume – indicate if you have worked with the public (good people skills)
- Demo reel with shot break down and what software was used
- Mail everything to them (no emails or online portfolios) and sent in a nice package.

How do they decide?
- Hires are decided by a panel of managers, not recruiting department
- If you don’t hear from them, your skills are not what they are looking for right now

Hints for job hunting:
- Your first job may not be at a big studio – maybe a boutique studio instead.
- Social networking resources are very important: VFX World, CG Talk, Linked In, Creative Heads, AWN
- Attend industry events: Siggraph, software demos
- Think about continuing education to develop your skills and make yourself more competitive
- Think about other positions and other markets or companies

Rhythm & Hues Apprentice Program:
- They have had very good results with this program. It gives them the ability to groom the industry for the people that they need.
- You have to finish school – they won’t pick you up if you drop out
- Concentrations: Animation, texture painting, tacking, effects. They don’t always know when they will have them.
- Recruiting department has an “academic friends list”. They let the industry know when they have students graduating for employment opportunities.
- They will pay for relocation to California.
- Work completed during the apprenticeship cannot go on your demo reel until the project is released. 98% of the apprentices get hired on a contract. This enables you to work internationally.

1 comment:

  1. hi sir,
    i am suraj my specilization is maya lighting.sir i want to get detail about lighting apprentice programe 2010.sir pls reply on my email: