Wednesday, March 07, 2012

E-mail Response

Got an e-mail recently from an artist doing a board test at an animation studio not signed to TAG. He wanted my input on testing in general and his test in particular. My response:

I have said to studios, over and over, that a 4-6 hour test with 1/2 to 1 page of script is okay. Many studios have tests of 3 or 3 1/2 pages, which I maintain is abusive. A test should be given to ascertain:

A) If an artist can draw in the style of the show ...

B) if the work in an artist’s submitted portfolio matches the drawings in the test.


All the crap about wanting to see how the artist handles action, or dialogue, or hookups? That’s what samples in the portfolio are for. Studios were fine with portfolio submissions for decades. Now everybody has to take a freaking test? Pleease.

It’s just another excuse for artist abuse. Studios do it for the same reason that dogs eat their own excrement. Because they can. ...

I've done this a long time, and I've never gotten the long test thing. A studio wants to see if somebody can handle the work, hire them. God knows, I've seen artists who have jumped through the testing hoop, gotten a job, and gotten laid off a week later because they "didn't work out."

Gee. The long test didn't screen for the problem, did it?

My optimum solution? Bring somebody into the studio for a few hours and let them work on a short test. Look at the test. Then look at their portfolio. Then decide whether you want to hire them or not.

That would work a lot better than having the artist sweat for a week at home polishing and repolishing drawings. Why the hell you want to waste an artist's time? (Oh yeah. Because you can.)

Somebody at the higher levels of authority, please get smart about this stuff.


Anonymous said...

Here here Steve! This type of abuse of the artists needs to stop.

I've known several people who work in non-union studios, mostly in the games world, where the studio gives them a week to do this big elaborate test, unpaid, only to have them be rejected at the end of it. It's such a waste of time and extraordinarily discouraging to the animator if they get booted at the end of it.

It's abuse, plain and simple. It's this kind of bullshit that makes people so damn bitter all the time.

Tam said...

I so agree with you. How many times i've been given a test of 2days work, for free, sometimes more. It is totally abusive, I wonder if it is even legal, but if you refuse you are sure not to have the job and as animation is a small world, you are "affraid" that if you say something they are making you a "bad" reputation.

Anonymous said...

BBBBBBBut STEVE! You've said it's not your PLACE (the Union known as 839) to tell THEM (the studios) HOW TO RUN THEIR BUSINESS!

Frustrated Freelancer said...

Game studios are particularly abusive with this. Not only is an overly excessive animation test a waste of time for the animator, but I believe it hurts the studios as well. Demanding a 40+ hour test limits their their pool of candidates to the unemployed and recent student animators.

But what employed animator working 40 hours (and likely working much more than 40) has the time to do an additional 40 hour test? Oh and they want you cram said test into seven days. I certainly don't... and mind you this is all to determine if they even WANT to give you an interview, let alone offer you a job. Its absurd and I have refused to do these sorts of tests because I was working and physically didn't have the time. I have been a freelancer for the last couple of years, but I feel as if I am being punished because I am successful and have managed to stay continuously employed. I am not about to turn down work to take a week or two off to maybe earn the privilege of an interview.

One would think an animator that has managed to stay continuously employed for any length would be a highly qualified candidate. Sure there are great experienced animators unemployed through no fault of their own, but why limit your hiring talent pool to just the animators that happen to be between gigs at any given moment?

As I said I think the studios are doing themselves a major disservice, and it's their loss. And for a little perspective, even though the last few years I've freelanced in commercial and film, I do have extensive game experience and a gaming reel. Its not like my portfolio wasn't demonstrating the type of work they do that would require an exhaustive test.

Anonymous said...

One of the worst things about many of these "tests" is that often they are a complete sham because the higher-ups have already pretty much decided who they will be giving the position to , but they go through the motions of making it look like it's an open job posting for all applicants (why do they do such a wasteful, mean-spirtited thing ? Because the sadistic bastards can , that's why. Like Steve said).

Seems to me if someone could gather the evidence to PROVE that a company is knowingly wasting the time of artists by having them take a test for a position that they are not actually in the running for then that would be the basis of a lawsuit.

Steve Hulett said...

BBBBBBBut STEVE! You've said it's not your PLACE (the Union known as 839) to tell THEM (the studios) HOW TO RUN THEIR BUSINESS!

You believe everything your hear?

And remember: "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

Floyd Norman said...

It's like playing, "Fetch," only they're using a job instead of a stick.

Don't chase their stick.

Steven Kaplan said...

BBBBBBBut STEVE! You've said it's not your PLACE (the Union known as 839) to tell THEM (the studios) HOW TO RUN THEIR BUSINESS!

Actually, that was me.

And, if you read it carefully enough, Mr. Hulett is giving his opinion. As far as changing the behavior of the studios, we haven't got anything in the contract that keeps this from happening.


If anything *IS* added, it will most likely be language that makes sure artists get paid for the tests they do. So, again, not telling them *HOW* to run their business, but making sure artists aren't being abused at the whim of the studios.

Get it, Snarky Troll?

Anonymous said...

Steven Kaplan said...
"Actually, that was me."

I dont think so. And you are welcome to prove it, however I dont think you can. For me to do so would take a lot of time and I can only go back as far as the blog will let me until you delete all prior posts, thus erasing the tom-foolery you expouse, such as your feeble defense of what I know the other Steve said. Impressions last. And on this day, at least he came down to say that even HE wasnt to be believed about anything he says. So hah, and if you'd like to get into name calling, I have some for you too!

'If I read carefully', ohhh I am such a ....

Steven Kaplan said...

It was me, I say it all the time. I espouse it here and on other blogs and in discussions to artists who ask if the union can do things like .. stop runaway productions. Its where you heard it.

But, feel free to assign it to Steve H. He's an intelligent man and its an intelligent argument.

Its also nice to see you skate the issue and go juvenile. But, that's what to be expected from ..

(say it with me)

a Snarky Troll.

Anonymous said...

You are only making a claim which you haven't backed up. It, here, or any other forums, I haven't heard it coming from you. In fact, I cant recall anything memorable that you've expoused. You're just not that good. Yet.

Anonymous said...

jester says: um well I have a book ......... and it could fly*throws the book and it falls* nope never mind.

Steven Kaplan said...


I could say the same about you.

Anonymous said...

Really? A snarkfest over whether artists deserve more respect than they're currently getting when it comes to crapacious tests?

In my experience, if a studio hands me a test, that means they're NOT going to hire me. If a studio asks to see my portfolio instead of demanding a stupid test, I have a shot.

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