On the process of making my short animation How To Get Noticed At Your Next Interview, which I created over one week.

I came up with the idea late at night for a short article of satirical tips for to get noticed at job interviews, maybe with a few illustrations. It was meant to be five tips, but then I thought of five more, and then I decided that it would be more engaging if some of the images were animated, and I the idea shifted from an article, to some gifs, to a short animated film. But how to draw it?

Some initial drawings.

I made some initial sketches but I was unhappy with the style of these. I couldn’t quite pin down what I wanted it to look like as I wanted to try something new, but that was still very much my own style. So I flipped through some old sketch books of mine and found a drawing from 2017.

A drawing from October 2017 which inspired the look of the film.

This was an idea which I sketched and never came back to, but I liked how weird an innocent the characters were. Their shapes were inspired by wooden toys, and I felt that I could take the idea further and potentially experiment with different head shapes for my new animation. I made some new sketches based on this concept:

Sketches. Note the snakes which were cut from the final film.

When it came time to animate these I wanted to make everything as quick as possible, with minimal character movements, but I didn’t want it to be a still image. So each time there is a character standing still I drew the same thing three times to create a bit of movement in the lines themselves.

I used a lightbox to trace each image, and some fineliner pens to draw it all.

The lightbox is USB powered and very thin making it quite portable.
Originally snakes would have come out of his pants!

After I drew and scanned everything I began colouring it all in Photoshop, and at this point I cut two ideas. The first idea which inspired this project was to have a character who has snakes sliding out of his pants. I had wanted to experiment with drawing the snakes completely digitally, but I realised this was going to add way too much time to the project so I cut the idea. Instead I used the character at the very end of the film because I still really liked his look. The second idea to be cut was a man who stands out by wearing very bright clothing. I didn’t like the drawing and decided not to bother with it at all.

Cut shot of man wearing bright colourful clothes. I never coloured it.

After I had coloured everything I imported all of the images into Premiere and made each frame 00;00;00;03 long. To be honest I maybe could have made them a bit slower, but I had used that length previously and I didn’t feel like experimenting at the time.

After moving everything around to how I liked, I now had to record a narration.

I recorded this with my earphones in my apartment so the quality wasn’t amazing. I put a blanket over my head to mask most of the rooms background noise, and it mostly does the job. I played with Premiere’s audio settings a bit too, to try and clean up some bits, but when I watched the video on my TV it sounded awful. I’m not sure if this is the TV’s fault, YouTube’s compression, or issues with the audio itself, but it sounds mostly fine on everything apart from this TV. The audio is of course still not perfect, but I think it’s ok for a bedroom production.

For the music I used Ableton Live. I drew some MIDI notes and listened to them with a few different instruments. Once I found the ‘Plastic Vibraphone’ I really liked how simple it sounded so I pasted the notes into some similar instruments and layered them all together to create a two minute song which was then edited down in Premiere.

The film is now on YouTube and Vimeo, and has gotten a good response from people. It is by no means perfect, but it was more of a challenge for myself to try and make something quickly. I previously created another short titled Feet which was made in one day, so this was an expansion of that idea. Perhaps next is to see what I can do within the confines of one month?

An Australian writer with a passion for research. In 2020 he published Making Psyence Fiction, a book on the creation of UNKLE’s debut album. www.jamesgaunt.com