Tests are the trend in hiring, it seems. Studios looking to hire artists are requiring they take a test to demonstrate their competence. It doesn’t matter if the artist applying has a golden resume and portfolio to match - they must pass a test on their own time. FLIP asked such industry veterans for their angle on the practice of testing.
When I was little and sent some drawings to Disney I got a letter back from Don Duckwall, who was head of production, and he made this statement "do not send in drawings of our characters; rather, create your own characters so we can see what you are capable of. If you came to work here we would teach you to draw our characters." To me, that has always been the best way to approach getting a job at a studio. Even when I was producing and hiring people, I hated when the HR department made us start handing out tests. They never looked right because the people taking the tests didn't know the particulars of the show.
Tests, in my opinion, only create animosity among people in the business because the only ones who are happy with the tests are the ones who pass it, which leaves many more people who are unhappy. Often, the people who do pass the test are great at drawing the characters from the model sheet but their acting, staging, and film making skills are horrible. So very often, inexperienced people pass the test, but later down the line it is more costly because things didn't work. This isn't fair to the inexperienced people either, because they never really learn the correct way of doing their work, which comes from working under an experienced artist.
When I have passed tests, I ended up on a list to be called in case they needed extra help. They never needed extra help. In this world today, people like Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, and the nine old men wouldn't get jobs because they wouldn't pass a test.
Rusty has won five Emmys for his work on “Animaniacs” and “Pinky and the Brain”. Hmm, let’s see…..TEST HIM!
Rebecca was mentored by Eric Larsen in the 70’s, animated on “The Brave Little Toaster” and “Roger Rabbit” uncredited (screwed!), and has done story work on “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast”. Think she can handle “Family Guy”? – it’s pretty challenging stuff. Test her!
There have always been 'design tests'--studios do design work on spec and compete against one another to get the bid. I participated in one hilarious one once, which is another story. Again, my portfolio usually tells the tale. Designs are constantly changed, and the client should pay for these once the designer has been hired.
Storyboard tests are, I think, a reasonable request, especially when there are so many recent animation grads applying for positions. Since boards are done at the studio in real time, to a nonnegotiable deadline, I think that the test shows who can (a) draw on model; and (b) work efficiently. Computer technology has also made it much easier to cheat and forge portfolios. People who submitted portfolios with plagiarized material would fail the test.
I would take a storyboard test; I'd consider it equivalent to an acting audition.
Nancy’s was in CalArts’ first Character Animation class in the ‘70’s. She was animation supervisor on “A Goofy Movie”, and supervising animator on “Hercules”. She has written books on storyboarding and acting for animation. But does she know shat she's doing? Only a test will settle it!
Patrick independently produced shorts have won him many awards. Independently test the hell out of him!
If you are talking about some kid with no experience -- then a test is a chance for them to jump to the next level and is probably a good opportunity.
I've been on the hiring side -- with a thoughtful portfolio/ resume review, you can tell who can handle an assignment or not. The problem with tests: Time is money - so in effect, you have a big corporation / studio asking the artist to invest his or her own money in their project.
"Oh but it's just a little two page test..."
With features, the process is more about a creative collaboration between the board artist and the director(s) and that only comes about from actually doing the real work together. A paid trial period seems like a more professional solution to see if the artist is a good fit for the project.
Dan has 20 years of experience as an animator and board artist for Character Builders Studio in Ohio on projects like "Space Jam" and "101 Dalmations II". But he's from Ohio - test him!
Dean Yeagle’s career goes back to the ‘70’s, animating too many commercials to count. And here’s one of his sketches……TEST HIM!
T. Dan Hofstedt
T. Dan’s animation has spanned from “Aladdin” to “Princess and the Frog”. But can he make Dora explore? TEST!
And not enough thought is given to the tests or what the expected outcome is. And often, when the test is thoughtful, the expectations are not made clear to the prospective test-taker. I prefer the "try them out" method than a standardized test. Give them specific problems to solve, see how they solve them, and talk to them about their process.
The worst of my test stories was when I--along with several of my CalArts classmates--needed a summer job. We all went down to the infamous DIC studios (when it was still on Ventura Blvd. at Colfax). The show they were hiring for was (cough...) "Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n Wrestling." They gave us all different "tests" from the show to do. We all completed our "tests," and went down to turn them in.
They didn't hire any of us. But they did use all our tests in the production of their show.
Not even enough to buy a few more crates of Top Ramen.
Ralph has done art direction on “Toy Story” and “Up”, and won an Oscar for his short “For the Birds”. But he couldn't pass the mustard for DIC - the hack!
Dave has animated on films such as “The Little Mermaid”, and “The Lion King”. But is he qualified to teach on the subject? TEST!
That show (which went on to have a very brief run before being cancelled) did not hire me, but another show runner saw my test and hired me for their series. I did two episodes for them.
That's my only exposure to testing. I think it is a dubious practice. Basically people hire people they know or know of and want to work with. Taking a test is a real roll of the dice.
Will’s career goes back to thirty years. He’s done boards for films such as “Rescuers Down Under”, “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Over the Hedge”, and “Astro Boy”. But you know, he may have been faking it, test him!
I had to do a test or two, even in the 1970s. I had trouble turning Flash Gordon around for Filmation. No one likes them, but what are you going to do?
Tom animated on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and Aladdin”, and directed “Osmosis Jones”. He also knows the history of tests.
Kirk worked on “Beauty and the Beast”, “Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Atlantis” as co-director. Give him a co-test.
c.2010 Moore Studios