Back in July, I scribbled out a diatribe against Mass Animation, a Facebook-supported competition to create a CG short film by crowd-sourcing the animation to thousands of animators around the world. (See trailer above.)
While most of the Motionographer regulars agreed with my points against Mass Animation, not everyone felt that spec-work competitions like Mass Animation are a bad thing.
To help flesh out the other side of the story, we got in touch with Alexander Micah Snow, Mass Animation participant and then animation student at the Savannah College of Art and Design. We edited his response for length, but left it otherwise in tact.
Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments.
In Support of Mass Animation
By Alexander Snow
Not too long ago, I was checking my Facebook to see if anything new was going on, or if as usual, somebody had taken a hideous picture of me without me knowing. This is when I first caught a glance at the feed about something called Mass Animation. As soon as I read a few lines of the description, I was hooked:
A chance to work with professionals, especially from such great studios as Sony Imageworks and ReelFX, was an opportunity I wasn’t gonna miss.
For one, it was a great way to get your name out there and network, whether you win a shot or not. I met a lot of people and discovered some great studios that I didn’t even know about, such as Seagulls Fly. This was one of only a few opportunities I had been given to speak with professionals in the industry and to pick their brains.
Another great thing about this competition was that it gave me a reason to work hard, work fast, get some outside opinions, and work on something for my personal demo reel. As a student, the deadlines are a lot quicker paced, and trying to juggle multiple classes and assignments can get tough sometimes. That’s definitely a good way to get the juices flowing, but sometimes you need to give yourself time to animate and hit all those beats and details.
This competition was a great way for a student or recent graduate to get a professional-like experience—and possibly get paid. Even if it’s not the biggest salary, it is still something.
Most animation internships don’t pay anything, so this was a great chance for somebody who needed income to do it in their spare time. This way you get an internship-like experience (though not quite as one-on-one) and still can do your day job.
Experience is experience in my mind, and this experience came with the chance that I could possibly be credited in a film that shows before a major motion picture.
The competition also answered a question I was having about working remotely: I was happy to discover how well it worked. The shot just had to be downloaded and you were ready to go. You follow the simple steps to save and output the video and voila, you’re a competitor. With the pace and deadlines, it was a lot like being a professional, just in a more laid back sort of way.
In the end, I submitted three shots . Out of those three shots, I liked the way two of them turned out. The day finally came and the results came out and I… won. Only one of my shots won, and oddly enough, it was my first shot that I did—the one that I had lost hope for.
I was really excited. I was extremely busy at school and started to get worried about time that I would have to fix the shot and clean it up, when I got another email. This one told me that my shot had been cut from the film, but that I would still be in the credits and I would still receive the money.
This ended up working out perfectly. I had made friends with people in the industry, worked on a professional project, gotten my name in the credits of a short that would show before a real movie, received $500, improved my skills a lot—and I had gotten a feel for the “real” world.
Did this competition help me get a job? Not directly, but it certainly was a step in the staircase that got me to where I am, an animator at Rhythm and Hues working on a feature film.
Mass Animation was a fun ride in the theme park that is the world of Animation. I don’t know what ride I’ll go on next but who really does? Maybe it will be the next Mass Animation competition, maybe it won’t. All I can say is that I highly, highly recommend this competition or any competitions for people looking to improve and push themselves.