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Mary Hawkins

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  1. I keep my cold call cover letter short and sweet and I've gotten good results from it: My name is [my name!] and I've been working as a freelance AfterEffects animator+designer at [my client] for [years!]. I really like [client], but we've had a slow summer and I'm looking to pick up a few more clients. Here's a short sentence about the type of project where I excel. Here's another, longer one that elaborates that and lists a few good qualities. Here's what I mostly work on, followed by my favorite projects. My website and resume are available online. I'd love to meet you in person, go through my reel and answer any questions you have. Thanks! ..... I list my info afterwards: reel, resume, email, cell... I don't give people my rate in my cold call email. If I'm answering a specific job post, I make sure that anything they specifically want is listed. If I see something on a site that I want to highlight, I add it in -- I don't speak Spanish, so it's not on my resume, but I have worked on Spanish language spots. If people have a lot of Spanish language projects on their site, I usually write something like "No hablo espa├▒ol, pero soy franc├│fona. I've worked on many Spanish language and Spanglish spots over the years for [my Spanish language clients]." Likewise if we have a client in common, I write that in too. I try to keep everything super short. I have cool work and I don't want someone to spend a whole lot of time reading my letter -- or worse, hit something stupid or pretentious and delete the whole thing. Years and years ago, I applied to a quick job with a quick email. The guy told me that he got all sorts of long "we do everything!" emails from presidents of companies, but they didn't sound like his project. I sounded like I knew what he wanted and I sounded like I'd be easy to work with and he wrote me back first... That's all it took. Think about the type of email that you'd want from the person that you'd want to hire. That's what you need to write.
  2. Very cool stuff! There are two things that I would change. The first is pretty easy -- in that shot with your name and the mountains, the black type gets lost. Switch it to white and it'll stand out better. The second is a bit harder. Everything on your reel is cool and high quality, but it's getting pretty long. Have you considered making two reels? You could do one for motion graphics and a second for compositing and effects. I really like the way you've set up shots and I like the work that you've chosen, but at 1:20 I wondered how much longer I was going to be watching this thing... "Too much" is a good problem to have! Overall, it's a really strong reel and the only thing you have to worry about is the short attention spans of your audience.
  3. If you're going to tackle this sort of project again, I'd choose something much shorter and really nail it. Grab something a sentence or two long and see what you can come up with. It's hard to experiment with animation when you choose a really big project and you end up biting off more than you can chew.
  4. It's a good start, but you need to tighten up a few things... Before I start in on what I think needs work, your timing is really spot on. I like the transitions and you do a lot of interesting things. This is also a good song to apply this sort of treatment to -- the lyrics are interesting and it has a good beat. That's all solid. Where you lose me is in your color treatments and illustration style. They just get kind of generic in places. You don't have to be complicated, but there's something about your current illustrations that look more like clip art and less like this: If you want to revisit this, I'd work on individual frames as compositions and go from there. It's not fair to compare a one-man-band project with something that ten pros worked on for a month, but the that should be your goal. You can tighten up your type treatment in places, but the color schemes and illustration need more help. I'd also try to take the choruses and change them from one shot into a sequence. It doesn't have to radically change, just make sure that we aren't sitting on that one shot for 10s. You could have the motion trails separate out to be the same guy dancing three times, you could zoom in on things... I like that they stop totally changing, but they need a little movement and a little variety. That's a good place to take a breath, but you do still need to have things moving and changing a bit. Definitely a cool project though! Thanks for showing it off...
  5. I finally finished my reel/montage update. I did end up uploading and hosting everything on Vimeo instead of my own site. I swapped a few things around and added in bugs for the stuff I made outside of MTV. While I hopefully want to stay in the building, the whole thing was starting to feel aggressively poppy and I don't want to look like I've only ever had one job at one place. Thanks for your input guys! It's been really helpful. Most of the friends and co-workers I showed it to were complimentary but didn't really have much to add, so it's been good to have some honest feedback.
  6. Hmmm... I feel weird about your reel -- everything looks awesome, but I don't know what I would hire you to do... Your work has a lot of polish and you do a lot of really cool things, but up until the "Pop" animation, I wasn't really certain what I was looking at. There's just a lot going on in those first five or six shots and while they're all cool, they feel a little gimmicky. I'm trying to put this into words, and the best I can come up with is that they feel like the stuff VJs put up on screens at clubs, not stuff that people hire other people to do for your usual range of clients. The things that really stand out for me are things like "Pop", the gorilla, the thing with the canon, "fuck your couch" and the ending graphic. The design is much cleaner and there are fewer visual tricks in those pieces. Even though they're still experimental, I know what you're trying to communicate with me and I get a cool sense of humor from them. Pieces that really stood out for me as being mushy and just fluff are the two orange shots after your "Demo Max" animation, the crazy thing at :14 and the sequence that starts with the mountain and ends at slut. The "Slut" animation is also on my iffy list. I don't know what your point was with that. At least with "Fuck your couch", I felt like "Damn straight! Sofa beds suck!" Even if 50% of the artists out there aren't women, a good chunk of the production support staff in the places where I've worked have been. We're used to crazy, but that doesn't mean we wanna invite more of it over for breakfast. Either give that animation a point or drop it. The fact that you can make fur grow on something isn't good enough. I'm curious what other people have to say about this one. I really felt conflicted as I wrote all of this because I do feel like your work is high quality, but there was a lot on your reel where I just I didn't understand what you were aiming for.
  7. It's *huge* that even though you're still starting out you're already getting client work. That's actually a big selling point -- a lot of people come out of school with cool work but don't play well with others. I wouldn't add back in the title cards, but I would do a lower third that gives us some basic information about the project. For instance, that devil/music video project could be titled something like: "The Devil Inside" music video/The Band of Band People. Don't go overboard making anything fancy for your L3, just do it in a basic, clean typeface and add a tiny, tiny drop shadow or bar for visibility. I'm also confused by the clip at ~:21. I definitely have some client work that is exactly what they wanted but doesn't really fit on my reel. (In fact, I'm making more of it today!) Either find a way to show off what you've done in a more clean way, or just show the models and animation. The models are really, really cool and you've rigged them well. That's all people need to see. Again, I'd still lightly animate the buildings, even if it's too big a file to do a traditional turntable. They're really awesome and there are a lot of cool details in the photos, but I have a short attention span. Like, three seconds. It's sad but true... Also, are any of your renders connected with that shot of the set or building that you have in there? Maybe this is another thing that you need to point out with a lower third. One of the things that you do a couple of times in your video that stuck out is that you let your animation "thud" into place. It's there in your logo and in the "I" logo at :42. The rule of thumb is that unless something is hitting a wall or you want the animation to pop or be kind of aggressive, be sure to ease things in and out. It's a minor detail, but it will help your reel look just a little more polished. Very cool reel overall! I'm impressed that this is what you were able to do in a month of experimentation. Keep going and keep us updated as you change things...
  8. Nice work! I put it on while I was waiting for a render and I actually forgot that I was supposed to get back to that render and kept watching... Good stuff!
  9. I worked on my montage yesterday: http://czarina.tv/montage_2010.html There are still some things I want to tune up... What do you guys think? Is it weird to end up on a page with a repeat of my logo after the movie plays? Do I need to fix that, or am I just being picky?
  10. First up: A Higher Class. That's the easiest thing to fix... I like the sound track! One of the things I like about this piece is that it isn't about shiny, chrome crap. You've made some interesting choices here, but you still have some work to do before it all really holds together. I'm not thrilled with the weird logo (the "pencils" everyone is talking about) and the background particles. Save them for something else. I think you need to simplify what you're doing and just make the explosion your focus. Nothing wrong with having a good explosion and then a logo reveal at the end. It's better to do something simple and solid than throw too many elements into something. I'd also work on your colors -- they're really nice, but they're not working yet and they become murky once the jeep explodes. The new car definitely recedes into the background and that's the opposite of what you want. One of the easiest ways to think about a spot is to come up with two or three adjectives and see if the elements in your piece fit them. Don't hold onto something just because "you like it" or "you put a lot of time into it". Hold onto things that fit the mood you want or express an idea. Keep in mind that if everyone's going to see this on Vimeo or YouTube that that strip with the play button and the timeline can really get in the way. It's okay to cheat things up a bit to make sure they aren't sitting under that.
  11. I feel like your new layout is much cleaner and simpler and I like that, but I miss the crazy self-portrait and pics on your old site. I also liked the font/links on top of your old site. Mix it up -- I think there's a happy medium in there. I've been looking at a bunch of sites lately and I definitely like the ones where I get an impression of their work/skills on the front page. That doesn't mean that you have to make a crazy or intricate front page, just make sure that you show off a screen shot or two or a cool illustration. That's literally all it takes. I'm glad you dropped the google maps thing. It was tiny and felt really weird -- I literally saw that, went "Oh cool!" and then thought how easy it would be for people to stalk me if I did that on my site. I'm easily to distract, but... not such a great train of thoughts there and I definitely wasn't concentrating on your work. If you look at the thread about my site update, a few people have suggested content management systems that are much easier to update. I don't know what you use for hosting, but take a look at those. Make sure you have some sort of information on your "about" page. Doesn't have to be much or very fancy and you can always update it later, but have some content or leave it out. Also, don't leave your email address as plain text anywhere in html or css. Use a picture or just don't include it. This is an everywhere thing -- I had a spam harvester grab the email off of my resume at one point and I started getting a ton of work scams.
  12. Mary Hawkins

    Trione Reel

    That's kind of a cool niche. I would try to explain that in some way in your reel, even if it's by doing something as obvious as writing out "digital signage projects". I can see it in that one shot with the sign in the background of a game, but you need to really explain what you're doing, even by taking pictures or making an intro that segues us into being in a stadium. Otherwise you're just making "perfect" look a little flamey. It'd be cool if you can find video of your signs in use and shoot them in a cool way, like by whip panning to them before they go off or showing people cheer at the perfect homer with "perfect" going off in the background. I like your opening, but maybe just leave out the words motion design. Write it out on your site, write it out in the description box in Vimeo, but I see "motion graphics!!111!" animated over and over in people's starter reels. Unless you have a cool way to show it off, leave it off. The only exception I can come up with is if you use that same line to title this as your "digital signage reel".
  13. Updated! Thank you both for talking me down out of my tree. I still have a list of things to sort out, but I did get time over the weekend to rewrite and update my site. I did shuffle a bunch of old stuff off to vimeo so I don't have to keep archived stuff out in front of clients and can gain a little space on my servers. I trimmed out a lot of crap from pre-2008 and just kept a handful of things that I still liked. I still need to make a new montage, but it feels less overwhelming now that the site is under control. I also want to start using a content management system, but I put that on my "stuff to do later" list. I still have a pile of work ahead of me, but at least my site no longer makes me sad or worried.
  14. Hey guys! Here's my site: http://www.czarina.tv/ As budgets are going up at work, my clients are starting to take their most interesting projects out of house. I love my job, but I don't want to just be making menus for the rest of my days. Before I start really looking for new clients, I need to update my site and it just feels like an overwhelming task... I'm not sure what to keep or where to begin. I did a basic update so it has all of my new + favorite projects, so I'm over the first hurdle. I haven't seriously updated the site in years and I'm not sure what to do now that I have 20+ spots that I could showcase. The main page is pretty boring -- it's a logo, some links and my employer's name. Not so awesome. I kinda feel like I should jettison everything I made before my current job, but that means jettisoning years of work (and we have a definite house style at work). I also need to figure out a better way to showcase things quickly without adding a page or doing a giant update. I really want to weasel out of doing a montage, but that also seems like it's a really bad idea. I feel like if I have thumbnails or little storyboards/strips of my current work, people will quickly understand the range of things that I've worked on without a lot of labor, but I'm pretty sure people just want to see 30s of the flashy bits. Like I said... ugh. I feel like I can't sort out the big issues from the little ones. Help me prioritize. Which brings me to my second question... One of the things I'm known for at work is taking a pile of something and turning it into a spot with a tight turnaround without me working any overtime. I usually work with a producer and an editor and everything else on the spot is mine-all-mine. I think this is really my strength -- I'm a one man band you can throw at pretty much any mess and get a finished thing a few days later. I don't know how to get that across in my site. Right now I've included the timeframe on a couple of projects, but I don't know how to make that a selling point. For instance, I took the TRL spot from a pile of photos to a full on spot in 5 days. I got photos on Monday and had a spot ready for versioning and audio by Wednesday end of day. My work isn't super flashy (especially for the New York market), but I do good stuff fast. How do I show that to people? Thanks in advance for your help! I feel better just writing it all out... -Mary
  15. You know, I watched your reel without sound (thank you insomnia!) and I couldn't quite tell what that first shot from that paint chips ad was. It's just a little abstract and it took me until the second pass through to see that there was a bee/wasp pulling back a petal. I love those ads and you have cooler shots further into your reel. Unless there's a sound cue I'm missing, you might want to flip that one out for a more obvious shot further in. Good work otherwise! The only other thing I can suggest is writing out that you're in NYC since you don't have an obvious phone number. I see my work before the sound guy gets to it all the time, but I never thought about looking at a reel without sound before...
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