First Day at a New Studio : Business of Motion Graphics


When you enter a studio for the first time, your first day can be pretty … interesting.
Even when you’ve done it for years, the first day at a new studio you’ve never been at before is always different.

So now you know you’re not the only one, it’s time to figure out how to sift through and figure out the important stuff first. Hopefully the studio has a good intro procedure, where they walk you through all the basics, but even if they don’t here are some things to ask around about and find out first.

When you first enter a studio, you’re going to get the front desk person. You’re going to tell them who you are and who booked you, most likely a Head of Production, Producer, Coordinator or Scheduler. Then you’ll probably get a mini-tour of the space before being shown where you’re going to be working.

What else do you need to know?

1. Paperwork.
Most likely the first thing you’re going to end up doing is filling out paper. Usually this involves some sort of deal term, contract, and tax or payroll paperwork. Some studios will also give you a time sheet.

2. Find out what your working on.
Pretty self-explanatory, but will also fill you in on the next item: team.

3. Find out who your team is.
You’re gonna report to a couple of people. The first is going to be your producer, who will handle all things production related. The second is going to be your art director/creative director, who will deal with all things creative. You should also meet the other artists, designers, animators, compositors, and anyone else on the team.

4. Studio Workflow.
It’s important to know how the studio operates in terms of folder file structure and naming conventions. Some studios like to have 3D files in separate folders than 2D files, others like to have element renders in particular places, and still others may not have a consistent structure. Knowing this early on, is important to making sure your work is organized in a way that everyone can access, review and contribute to.

5. Communication.
Most studios heavily rely on iChat or AIM. Many studios will use the “Bonjour” feature of iChat, which connects the computers that are on the network, so you don’t need an actual AIM account, but you should have one anyways since most people use it and it’s a great way to keep in touch with other artists/producers/studios. It’s free and easy to do at: Many international artists, use MSN, Skype or other platforms, but in the US, AIM is still pretty much the main chat platform people use since it’s set up for iChat. Quick note about communication, if someone chats you, even if it seems a bit redundant, leave a little note just to show that you read the chat. The might say something like “here’s the file”, writing a simple “ok” or “got it” lets the other person know you saw their chat. Basic chat etiquette.

6. Project Specs.
Always, ALWAYS ask for project specs. The last thing you want to do is set up a project, only to find out that instead of 29.97 you needed to deliver in 24fps.

Minor Detail: Lunch.
Ask about what people usually do about lunch. Some studios cater, most don’t. Finding out what most people do for lunch will help you not get left behind, especially when you see a massive migration of people leaving the office.

Hopefully you get a rundown of all 6 of these points during your intro without having to ask, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask your producer about these. It makes everyone’s job easier.

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