2. There are more people applying for jobs in this business than there are jobs. The ones getting the jobs usually already work in the business. A rare few get in, but they are the exception, not the rule. It's a strange situation.
3. Aiming at top companies first is not the answer. Aim high, but don't slight yourself if you don't get them. There are no shortages of companies out there ready to give an animator a chance if they can exhibit desire, knowledge, and the ambition to do their best.
4. It has been said that the top companies may not be the sort of places you want to actually work for. It is not all fun and games and sometimes you have no say or input on the final product of whatever it is you are working on. You could very easily get stuck in a corner doing the same unglorious thing over and over for days on end (and not even be recognized or appreciated for it). A lot of smaller companies have been spoken highly of for the opportunities they give their workers in being actively involved in shaping the "final product". You may not be working on the next "Jurassic Park", but you could end up much more satisfied overall.
5. Be very careful how you come across. Reactions to my post, "To Industry members: Am I good or do I s#$@s?", ranged from people calling me "ignorant" and "childish", to someone observing a link between a statement on my home page that said something like "I have several personal projects in progress that I have yet to finish" and something in my newsgroup post that said "I have come close to finishing college, but haven't because I don't agree with 'required degree courses' (foreign language requirement)". They noted that it appeared as if I have a problem finishing things and, if that was the case, how could I be counted on to finish work for them? I assure you that my motivation for 'temporarily' dropping out of school was not due to the fact I can't finish things, but due to financial problems and an observation that I might be able to get to where I want to go faster if I simply spent my time and money pursuing my dream in a more direct fashion.
6. I stated that a degree was simply a piece of paper and isn't an indicator of talent. It appears as if the field is divided by what I will call the "old school" and the "new school". The old school believes a degree is required and favorable to have because it says something about the individual. But the new school observes that unless that individual graduated from a TOP multimedia school (of which there are very few), talent is more important than a degree. Computer graphics and animation are extremely expensive to learn at schools and it is altogether possible to get this sort of education by investing less money and purchasing the equipment you need to teach yourself. There are many self-taught and successful people in the industry.
7. One important thing about 3D animation software and being a successful animator is understanding the basic principles behind what you're doing. It is highly recommended that you look into taking some classic art classes and getting back to basics (drawing, sculpting, etc.) before jumping into the 3D boat without a paddle. Acting classes are also extremely helpful, as they give you a better understanding of character.
8. Your resume isn't worth much unless you have real-world experience. A resume must also be extremely concise. Adding "extras" to make up for real world experience is a waste of time. If it isn't relevant, don't put it.
9. There was some confusion at first (before I made note of this on my home page) as to whether or not I created the models for these images. Most of them are, in fact, stock models picked up from http://www.3dcafe.com. Having said that, I am completely aware now that in order to separate myself from the crowd, the best thing I could do is model and render my own objects, not someone else's. And since I _am_ capable of this, I don't have much of an excuse other than I created those images to convey a good sense of composition and lighting, not my animation and modeling skills. Some argue, however, that using stock models is fine. It's what you do with them that counts.
10. Out of the box manipulation isn't "special". Innovating is. If it can be done from a pull-down menu feature, you're not innovating. Professionals can spot that a mile away. Be careful using plug-ins that rob you of your creative control. Master the plug-ins, don't let them master you. If the plug-in did all the work, then you really haven't shown any skill, have you? Be creative.
11. Create everything you are capable of creating yourself. Shy away from stock resources if possible. Remember, if you can take credit for everything, you are more likely to get the attention you deserve. I am told that if a professional spots an Avalon model or a KPT Bryce material, you're sunk before you've even gotten into the water.
12. Demo reels. Stay away from spaceships, robots, shiny chrome objects, and flying logos. The major houses are sick to death of seeing reels with any of the above. It's the kiss of death. Do something truly original and you'll get noticed. An understanding of movement and storytelling helps
13. Keep up with the industry and research. Have an understanding of what's out there and have an eye for things like what's good, what's new, and what's being overdone.
Collect reference material. Have a collection of animations on tape. These can be anything from 2D Warner Brothers cartoons to the latest Computer Animation Film Festival tapes. One of the things you need to master in computer animation is bringing inanimate objects to life. Breathing character and personality into lifeless models. Studying animation of all types will help you.
Also collect books on animation and such. The point is, learn as much as you can about the industry. Doing so may give you the edge you need. After all, you are in competition with thousands of others. Never stop learning.
14. Internships are a great way to get much needed experienced. If you can get an internship with a local company that deals with 3d graphics and animation, do it! It is also a great may to meet contacts.
15. You may be good, but there are always people better than you. Seek them out and learn from them. Along the way, help people who know less than you. Again, this is a great way to meet contacts, make friendships, etc and truly speaking CGArena.com is really a very good place for this.