This Legendary Spreadsheet: The man who runs this, Chris Mayne, is a wonderful person who maintains this database all on his own. Cartoon Brew wrote about him in 2020, but the short version is he shared his own painstakingly assembled spreadsheet with people from a studio that had recently shut down. A familiar and unfortunate narrative for many of us.
CreativeHeads: I’ve been getting emails from this site every week for years and I always click through them and see what’s up. It’s a great aggregator of a lot of different roles, leaning a bit more on the vfx/software/games side. There are also educational roles, which I don’t see as often.
Motionographer Job Board: Motionographer is a fantastic site for motion designers and they have a fantastic job board.
Several organizations such as Women in Animation and LatinX in Animation send out occasional job emails when you join those organizations. I also have certain keywords and locations lagged on indeed.com and I will get occasional emails from them.
Twitter: Frankly, Twitter is a great place to find out about job openings if you are following a lot of people actively working in the industry (particularly in the LA area). While I’m remiss to encourage anyone to join a site that is literally engineered to distract you (from improving your portfolio especially!), I would argue that it is an important aspect of the career/networking part of ones journey to be present. To thwart doomscrolling and what not, I actually have two very, very different twitter accounts I use–one that’s accidentally become a political dumping ground, and one that I’ve curated to really only get news and share thoughts about animation. I did this on my own for my own mental health. It lets me quickly check in, see what people in the industry are talking about and not spiral into unrelated things.
Like with Chris Mayne’s own spreadsheet, I advise everyone to create their own. If you’re a student, have a list of companies you’re interested in and check them once in a while for internship or entry level postings. I’m from the east coast of the US, so my spreadsheet for a while was focused just on studios in the NYC area as I wasn’t ready to move far yet. I’d check them once a week when I knew companies were going to start posting for summer internships, or I’d look at data from past years to know when roughly the deadlines would be.
Something else that has helped me is to watch the credits of films and Google people, just to see if they had a demo reel on Vimeo or a portfolio site. I’d also look people up on LinkedIn and see how their career paths went. I am not saying to reach out to them or cold email them or anything–just that I was trying to learn how some people came into certain jobs. Half the time, I hadn’t even known what certain jobs entailed or there are some jobs that have different responsibilities studio to studio. For example, some character setup TDs might be more programming heavy at some studios while others don’t need to worry about knowing any scripting languages.
Maybe you’ve found that you’re just not hearing back from places. That’s totally normal–frustrating for sure–but normal. Animation is an incredibly competitive and saturated industry. It can be hard to stand out among so many talented folks. So maybe you feel like you need to up your game a bit. Before dropping several grand (like. Several several) on grad school, there might be a healthy middle ground of expensive yet still relatively (again, if you had been considering grad school) inexpensive options. A lot of these are a mix of individual courses or whole programs.
The important thing though is to spend some time using free resources like YouTube to try and figure out the area(s) you’d really like to specialize in and hone in on. Maybe in general you like modeling, but you really love environment modeling and can really focus on that. Maybe you only really know compositing but want to broaden your horizons to the whole LookDev workflow. Maybe you don’t know what you like because you’re a student and you only really get a little bit of time to spend in each “department” or step of the pipeline before you have to move on and are looking for some guided projects and tutorials that can help you see what you want to deep dive into. Start with YouTube. The quality of free resources out there now is astounding. And not for nothing, maybe you’ll come to find you do want the full immersive experience of a full time education, in which case school will always be there for you.
But you are looking for some next level stuff that are truly financial investments, I recommend these places:
Academy of Animated Art: This online school focuses mostly on lighting. I took one of their classes years ago and it was an immense help to me. Mike Tanzillo and Jasmine Katatikarn are lighters at Blue Sky Studios, and know their stuff.
PluralSight: There are some great Maya courses on this site. It looks like they don’t focus as much on the CG pipeline as they used to and took a strong pivot to coding, so I’d definitely recommend the free trial first. When I was a student we were each given free access to it, and at the time (8 years ago) everything was recent and the coverage of topics within Maya was massive. I’m not quite getting that vibe anymore…
Animation Mentor: This is one of those programs that churns out solid results, with an impressive alumni pool. In addition to the full program, they do also have some one-off classes you can take. I took a previs class there one time and it was a really experience.
RiggingDojo: While I never took classes from here, I had a friend who was a rigging specialist who went here to help up their game. Rigging had been the most intimidating area to learn as a student, so that friend got credits on almost everyone’s films helping them with rigs.
While I had positive experiences with some of these, be sure to do your own research and decide what’s right for you, your lifestyle, your learning style, and your budget.