Discipline Investigation Assignment

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Instruction: To investigate a discourse community, you hope to join and to learn about the kinds of texts (genres) that community uses. This assignment will enable you to identify some of those rules or patterns by interviewing a professional in your field of study and by doing outside research. This assignment would need to write related to Business Management major which require you to interview someone in this filed.

Discipline Investigation Example

Animation is a world of wonder and it’s something I have wanted to be a part of since leaving high school. I discovered the animation career path in community college after watching “Wreck-It-Ralph”. After looking into many university options that carried the animation major, I settled on San Jose State and am currently a student working on a path to being an animator. Working in the animation program, I’ve come to realize there is a lot of work in large studios that produce major feature films. Recently, looking for other jobs that my future degree would fit into besides the larger studios, I discovered independent studios. I wanted to look further into this specific field in case it would be an option for me. I decided to interview a professor within the animation program at San Jose State about the animation studio he directs on campus. Mr. Doe is the director of Studio XYZ. I interviewed him on how the studio started, how it can stay in business, what goes on during production, and how important writing and communication is in this field to get a further look into the kind of hard work independent animation directors put in.
Good introduction which identifies the field, interest in the field, person being interviewed and what will be covered in this essay.

Background and Career Path

Mr. Doe has been drawing ever since he was a kid and wanted to get better at it. As he grew up, he realized he wanted to be an illustration artist and the school he chose to learn this was San Jose State. He received a BS degree in Illustration from San Jose State in 1995. He taught basic classes in Minnesota for a few years later and then returned to San Jose State to improve his drawing skills. Shortly after his return to San Jose State the illustration department introduced animation into the curriculum. Mr. Doe took a few of these classes and his teachers noticed a dramatic increase in his skill level in drawing and animating. Alice Carter, the head of the program at the time, suggested he start his own independent animation studio because she believed he would enjoy the film making and create great content. “She was right,” he stated.

However before he started his own studio, Mr. Doe worked in another independent studio, Thunderbean.. His first tasks covered all areas of animation and direction, layouts, storyboarding, concept art, etc. which gave him experience in a variety of jobs. This allowed Mr. Doe to see and help with any scenes that needed tweaking or changing. Soon after, Mr. Doe was given co-directing tasks which gave him opportunity to oversee the entirety of the filming process. Mr. Doe started Studio XYZ around 2008 and has been successful in creating entertaining content. Many of Mr. Doe’s short animations have made it to a few festivals and won awards for story and best animated film.

One aspect that Mr. Doe mentions is that being a director of an independent studio is difficult if it is the only job an artist has. Mr. Doe also works as a professor at San Jose State and this helps him run his studio since he has access to labs and to volunteers. Mr. Doe really enjoys working in the studio with many of the volunteers who work there and says it’s very rewarding in the end.

This section is gives a good indication of path taken to reach the present position and mentions some surprises, advice. Surprises and advice could be stronger.

Roles and Responsibilities

Being a director isn’t easy; there is a lot of work involved if the studio is to be successful. According to the Animation Career Review website, independent filmmakers,”…work long, grueling hours, they have to raise money to fund films. Stamina, focus, drive, creativity, and determination are just as important to be successful.” (CAR, 1) An independent director must have a lot of knowledge, leadership, self-efficiency and business skills if the studio is to last. Mr. Doe’s work at Thunderbean allowed him to learn and digest the job qualifications of being a director, which are: leading, storyboarding, animation testing, reviewing boards and paperwork, and communicating with producers and leads. Other things include raising funds, public speaking and writing with proficiency.

Since he is the director within an independent studio, the first thing that he must be skilled at is drawing. Understanding and having a strong sense of the basic fundamentals of values, form, structure, perspective, and gesture are important when animating, because then someone is able to bend and stretch the limits of reality, but still allow the audience to connect to the scenes. Stronger skills beyond the basic fundamentals, would be storytelling, acting, visual development, and composition. All of these skills are needed if anyone is going to have a successful studio.

Another part of being the director are the long hours. Mr. Doe stated that many of the students who volunteer their summer to work on a short film would work 12 hour days (with breaks) to keep up with time budgets and workload depending on the number of volunteers, including himself. He described a typical day in the studio during the summer when school is not in session, “We review work, review progress, and work, work, work.” He would stay longer to review work, answer client emails, and send updates to the volunteers.

Being in any animation studio requires teamwork from a large group of people. As the director of his studio, his position allows for leadership to make final decisions, advertise the company, appoint animation and story leads, holding meetings, determining the workload, and budgeting. Since XYZ mostly runs through summer after school ends, not only does he need to make a funding budget, but also a time budget so it doesn’t interfere with students’ school schedules. Since the director has a lot to do, other lead positions he appoints help him keep the studio in a teamwork environment to help get the film finished on time. On occasion, the production spills over into the semester because of challenges, which can be technical errors to post production decisions. This then becomes very difficult and can lead to changes in budget and changes in business relationships.

Business is something Mr. Doe stressed on in the interview. He said all animators should learn business skills since understanding business is almost as important as animating. Raising funds is key. Funding is something that I am interested in particularly for independent studios. The larger studios, such as Disney or Pixar, have sponsors and a lot of merchandise sales that help fund their feature films. I asked Mr. Doe how Studio XYZ was funded and he told me, “It is self-funded. Sometimes I’ll go through the university and obtain grants. Sometimes I’ll work on commercial collaborations with Nickelodeon, get paid, and pay back those who volunteer or use it for additional equipment.” (Mr. Doe).

Mr. Doe works for the school, so he has more access to equipment and rooms for animation. I looked at others who do not have this benefit and found that work involved a lot of idea pitching and budget planning when beginning a production. An independent animation director Uli Meyer on Cartoon Brew website discussing how he does films says “Running a studio is a huge responsibility, rent, rates, utilities, wages, insurance, equipment, maintenance, etc.… Most of the time you will find yourself working on client projects and frantically pitching for more work and the landlord will pocket most of your profits.” (Meyer, CartoonBrew). Reading about how Meyer funded his movie, I learned that it is common to start a Kickstarter campaign to help fund not only the list he gives in the quote, but also on program equipment, computers, paper, pencils etc. Along with a Kickstarter campaign is the need to self-advertise and look for clients. Mr. Doe tells me that when he started he had to go out and look for clients and advertise his work. As his studio continued, he finds that he is running a business more than animating. Learning how to fund, communicate to clients and keep the job is important to keep the studio continuing.

This section is longer and required to give a clear understanding of what is required to be the director of an animation studio.

Communication

I asked Mr. Doe what type of communication skills are needed in the field and in being a director. According to Mr. Doe communication are vital particularly oral and writing skills. Since animation involves pitching ideas to clients, and working in teams, one must have the ability to begin and explain ideas clearly without sounding confused or jumbled both orally and in writing. Writing is varied and can involve story boarding, informational updates, preparing budgets, and emailing to communicate with the team and clients. Mr. Doe stressed understanding how to write grammatically, and professionally particularly in emails is important, so clients take your work seriously and you can give information and instructions clearly to your team. Listening and understanding is important in any position in an animation company since the work often involves understanding client needs and working with a team. With a large number of people working together on the same film, being able to be on the same page about a scene or character, and understanding how to communicate is central in the animation discourse community.

This section is a bit short and needed a bit more. However, it does give a clear idea of what communication skills are needed to do the job.

Conclusion

Speaking with Mr. Doe has confirmed my interest in working in animation. Animation is a creative way to tell a story in a beautiful memorable way. A lot of different mediums can be used and it’s inspiring to see what has been done with the limits animators face. The interview with Mr. Doe also confirmed other aspects such as the work load and communication skills required to be an individual studio owner. The one thing I did learn was how the studio is funded, particularly for smaller independent studios. I knew it was would be a lot for those who didn’t have a campus to work with and hearing it from someone who has to use more outlets like Kickstarter was surprising. It was almost more work than gaining the client. But, the most surprising thing to learn is understanding how to sell your business more than animate. I didn’t realize business would be an important skill as an animator. This gives me a pretty strong insight of the skills I need and the classes to take. While I am learning a lot of the skill sets needed to be a successful animator, one area that I need to strengthen is my business skills especially about budgeting. In the coming semesters, I plan on working on business and communication skills and volunteering at Studio XYZ to get firsthand experience in the field. All this will help me become a successful animator in the future.

Good conclusion.

Overall, a reader gets a very clear idea of what is required for this job and good language and grammar make this a strong paper.

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