This week I started updating our freelance artist roster. Animation is a team effort, and requires a highly skilled, and highly trained crew of artists, technicians, and production staff. The larger studios with deeper pockets tend to have more specialized artists that work on a very specific part of the production pipeline. Think of a factory where you might be responsible for the same task on the assembly line. A large animation studio would have artists that are specialized in character animation to be the animators, or specialized artists to do all the modeling of characters, props, and set pieces. Each step of the pipeline is done by artists who are specialists in that area.
In smaller studios there are often artists who are referred to as generalists. These would be artists who can model, surface, and rig characters instead of being specialized in only one area. Since these artists spend their time working on multiple areas they might not be as skilled in one area that someone who specializes in that area might be. Having artists who are generalist may sacrifice on the quality, but is often much more efficient, and cost effective.
In a larger studio if a Character TD is rigging a character, and finds an error in the model they would have to send a revision request back to the modeling department. This might take some time for a modeler to get to it, make the correction, and send back the fix. This is all time that the character TD is either sitting there waiting, or having to move on to another task.
On the other hand if the character TD is also the artist who modeled the character then they could simply make the needed fixes on their own, and then get back to working on rigging the character. This is more cost effective since you only have to hire one artists, and there is less downtime.
I like to keep a healthy mix of specialized artists, and generalists. By keeping my artist roster updated it allows me to stay ready for new client work at anytime. When a client is ready to start a project I go to my roster, and quickly put a team together. My goal is to have at least 5 people in each specialty that I can call up when I have a project.
By focusing on the top 5 positions it makes it easier to maintain, and helps build a more consistent quality. Since these artists are freelancers they might be busy working for another client, so by having at least 5 I give myself plenty of backups. I order the artists on the list with 1 being my top artist, so the artist in position 1 is the first person I call. If they are unavailable I go down the list. If I have a list of my top 5 animators, and I find an animator that is not as good as the number 1 animator on my list, but better then number two, then they would take the number two spot and everyone after will be shifted down a position. The animator who was in the number 5 spot will be taken off the roster, and moved into the extra artist list.
I’m always looking to find the most talented artists to work with to keep our quality at an extremely high standard. While skill level is the most important part of how I rank the artists on my roster there are other considerations. Other things I consider are; how easy they are to work with, how efficient they are, are they friendly and professional, are they reliable, and what is their rate?
By having a roster I can keep my quality at a more consistent level, so potential clients know what to expect. It also helps in bidding out projects, since I know the rate of the artist I work with on a regular basis. These are all things that help me in running the business.
If you are interested in being on our freelance roster please go to our website and fill out the Career News form. Building a strong team of talented people is the key to my business.
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