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Head of Model Making

Industries:
Animation
Personality type:
Maker
Departments:
Production | Stop Motion

The lowdown

  • Being responsible for the creative running and overall management of the model making department
  • Working closely with the Director and Production Designer to translate their vision into models or puppets that will work for the project

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have artistic talent and a good knowledge of all the craft skills required for model making
  • be able to function as part of the senior creative team
  • be able to make creative decisions
  • have knowledge of the diverse craft and technical skills required by Model Makers 
  • have excellent communication and presentation skills 
  • have excellent management and leadership skills
  • be able to support and manage a team of artists and technicians
  • be able to take and give direction
  • be able to recruit and set up a team or department, including interviewing and assessing potential employees
  • have good problem-solving skills
  • be methodical and thorough, keeping meticulous records
  • be able to deliver on schedule, working calmly and efficiently under pressure
  • show respect for the procedures and requirements of a particular studio or production
  • have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

What does a Head of Model Making do?

Heads of Model Making are responsible for the creative running and overall management of the model making department. They work closely with the Director and Production Designer to translate their vision into models or puppets that will work for the project.

The role more often exists on larger projects when they may work closely with a Production Manager who takes on the organisational responsibility. The role is sometimes known as Model Making Production Designer. In some cases, the role is combined with that of Team Leader.

Stop Motion, also called Stop Frame, describes animation that is created by moving models, puppets or any three-dimensional objects frame-by-frame in front of a camera to create the illusion of movement. Other terms used are Model or Puppet Animation, Table Top or 3D, although nowadays 3D usually applies to computer animation.

Heads of Model Making hire, brief, supervise and guide their Model Makers. They are the main point of creative contact for the Director and art department. In developing the proposed animation approach, they consider the designs, storyboards, animation requirements and any technical, timing or budgetary restrictions.

Their work can include the hands-on sculpting of characters in development, establishing colour themes, researching and testing appropriate materials and defining a practical method of construction.

On smaller productions, they may also track the progress of work going through the department, select, and co-ordinate work with, outside suppliers, and make sure that all the necessary resources are available when they are required.

Will I need a qualification?

To be a Head of Model Making (Stop Motion), it will generally be to your advantage to have an animation, art or design-related degree.

If you are considering taking an animation course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the animation industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for an animation career:

Animation courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

To be a Head of Model Making, you are likely to be hired on the basis of your talent, track record and reputation, after years in the industry. Your portfolio should include evidence of your work in a range of crafts and styles but emphasise any specialist skills you have.

What’s the best route in?

To reach this role, you will generally have worked your way through the model making department and gained a thorough knowledge of all the craft skills required for production.

You will also need other strengths, including robust leadership and organisational skills.

You could apply to be a trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:

More information about Trainee Finder

Interested? Find out more...

Websites

  • Animation Magazine - a US magazine about the business, technology and art of animation and VFX
  • Animation World Network - production news, interviews, jobs and a big archive 
  • Shooting People – community-driven site, founded by filmmakers, and providing opportunities, news and animation jobs 
  • Skwigly Animation Magazine - the longest running UK based animation magazine and community. Offers news, interviews, reviews, podcasts, videos and tutorials 
  • Toonhound – website about cartoons, animation, comic strips and puppets in the UK
  • Own-it - offers intellectual property (IP) advice, information and learning resources for the creative sector 
  • Animation Nation - Animation industry news and useful links 
  • Stop Motion Animation - online resources for the stop motion animation community

Books

  • Cracking Animation: The Aardman Book of 3-D Animation by Peter Lord and Brian Sibley (pub. Thames & Hudson)
  • Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation by Susannah Shaw (pub. Focal Press)
  • Stop Motion Armature Machining: A Heavily Illustrated Construction Manual by Tom Brierton (pub. McFarland & Company)
  • Stop Motion Puppet Sculpting: A Manual of Foam Injection, Build-Up and Finishing Techniques by Tom Brierton (pub. McFarland & Company)
  • The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams (pub. Faber & Faber)
  • Acting for Animators: A complete guide to Performance Animation by Ed Hooks (pub. Greenwood Press)
  • Timing for Animation by Harold Whittaker and John Halas (pub. Focal Press)

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