Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Test Mania

The Animation Guild has been collecting studio tests.

They're of various lengths. The longer ones tick off many job applicants. The shorter tests also tick off people, especially when artists find out that NOBODY got hired off of them because the studio decided, at the last minute, to staff the new show with a board artist already on staff.

So that test those sixty-two artists slaved over for a week? Without pay? Suddenly inoperative.

Pretty loused up. ...

What really makes the current test mania so bizarre is that from available anecdotal evidence, a number of studios are desperate for experienced board artists, designers, etc., and the test thingie hampers their ability to engage high-quality artists.

Even so, some of those studios are insisting that job applicants participate in tests "to see if they can do the style of the show." (Like the artists' portfolios wouldn't give the companies a strong hint ... just like portfolios did the previous forty-five years).

But the big problem with the test strategy?

Many experienced board artists are working and refuse to do tests. So the studios are faced with a conundrum. They can stand on ceremony and sift through the tests of newbies, then hire some with the knowledge they'll need to hire a raft of revisionists to get the boards in shape. Because the seasoned vets aren't there. And the newcomers, although good artists, are shaky about putting a useable production board together.

The studios, of course, have a second choice: they can (quelle horreur!) engage qualified veterans without benefit of testing and throw their dumb-ass test requirement overboard. (In some qurters there's stou resistance to this. At least one studio won't hire anybody without a test ... including people who've worked for the company before. That's counterproductive because seasoned board artists, flush with work, respond "thanks but no thanks" and the studio loses out on gaining a top-notch employee.)

Testing is now a wide-spread corporate practice, but in L.A.'s tight talent marketplace ... which is getting tighter ... it often causes studios to shoot themselves in their big fat corporate feet.


Pandalope said...

The testing situation also happens in the games industry to an insane degree. I've worked with a guy with 10 years experience who said he'd have to do a test for every game he'd work on, even if it were at the same studio/franchise. I've done a number of tests personally and gotten a couple interviews but zero feedback on my test, told I'm not allowed to post my test or put it on a reel, then given a basic "we decided to go with someone else" response e-mail. It's even more frustrating after having done a test and gotten an interview with Naughty Dog that went really well and they said they liked my test, but when I got the rejection and asked why, the HR guy told me he didn't have any feedback on me because they don't collect feedback.

It's a shame that these companies get away with doing this to artists; taking our valuable time to do a test, uncompensated for, not given any feedback on, and even told we don't even have the rights to our test to post on a reel or anything(at least for animators that seems to be the case). It's rubbish. There was a company that I interviewed for a layout position and they liked me but wanted me to do a test. But theirs was a few days test in-house that they paid you minimum wage. It's garbage pay, but it's at least a good faith effort showing that they legitimately want to make sure you can work within their style/studio environment.

Steve Hulett said...

Pandalope, Don Lusk told me he took a week-long test without pay (and it could have been three) for Walt Disney Productions in 1933.

So it's not like this is a new practice.

A four hour test is one thing. A for or five day test s something else again.

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