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Ask Us Anything #AMA

Every Thursday we're opening the studio doors and answering all of your questions. Technical, industry, fandom or otherwise - drop your question in the comments below - and we'll hop to it. (We're fielding Q's on Facebook, Twitter and G+ too, if that's easier!)

It's not a question to start - but we're shameless - so we're posting Alexandra Sullivan's #AMA Facebook comment:

Peter rabbit is Sofia's fav ever. I love it too!

And on to the first questions of the day:

Henry Hugglemonster Episodic Director, Shane Collins, writes:

I would look for a mixture of acting and action scenes. Mainly it comes down to the 12 principles of animation, focussing on acting and timing, facial expressions, lipsync and body mechanics.

I'm not a big fan of showreels with just realistic dinosaurs walking around and screaming, it doesn't give much information on acting etc. Fair enough the dinosaur walks nicely, but if you can make a human walk nicely the fundamentals are similar for a dinosaur, just make the weight heavier etc. To me the snappy pose to pose animation of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is animation at its best!

Creative Director and Co-Founder, Darragh O'Connell, writes:

There will always be a need for creative talent and smart passionate people - for non-digital folks, writers and storyboard artists will always be in demand! (And our HR Manager, Susan Cunningham adds that there is a shortage of Lighters and Audio Engineers!)

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From Facebook, Philip Phelan:

I'm a great fan of Brown Bag Films from the start. Are there any plans for an immersive experience with your on-screen characters? I could really see, for example, an Octonaut World being a success in a maritime country like ours!

We'd love to see our characters explore other media - this is handled by the creators and rights holders of The Octonauts - and they're working on some great new projects!

From the comments (below):

I've been at 2D animation for some time now and only dabbled in 3D every now and again. I've always debated which 3D software to use, I know that in the end they are virtually the same but most employers tend to look for one or the other. Would I be right in saying 3Dsmax is one of the most popular routes to continue my learning? Also online learning seems to be a minefield, any recommendations for my go-to place for tutorials etc.?

We use MAYA for modelling, rigging and animation - all of our 3D work. (As for online resources - some of the team swear by Digital Tutors and Animation Mentor)

Art Director Stephen Robinson writes:

Apart from the obvious skills in observational drawing and design, we usually look for skills relevant to the style the particular production demands, whether it’s a graphic sensibility for a show like Octonauts, or a gift for natural realism on Peter Rabbit etc.  Flexibility of styles evident in a portfolio is a bonus because the artist will need to adapt to the Art Director’s ideas, and flexibility in style is beneficial to both the artist and the company because there is often a need for sharing resources across productions. A 2D artist would also need to show that they can imagine how a character or object looks from different views.  Accurate turnaround drawings are vital for modellers in the 3D pipeline, so evidence in a portfolio that an artist understands how shapes look from different perspectives is valuable. Colour work is not crucial, but if an artist is interested in this area they can have an opportunity to do colour key work on their designs as a guide for textures and shaders.

Can you draw a mug, or a spoon? Every production needs a mug and a spoon, so if you’ve got these in your portfolio your foot’s half way in the door!

David Maybury

David works at Brown Bag Films and occasionally eats cake, lots and lots of cake.

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