Episode 112 — In-Ah Mellor — Senior Animator


Click here to listen on iTunes!

Get on the VIP insiders list!

Check out www.VFXRates.com


Episode 112 — In-Ah Mellor — Senior Animator

Hey, everyone!

This is Allan McKay. Welcome to Episode 112! I’m speaking with In-Ah Mellor, a teacher at VanArts in Vancouver, as well as a former Senior Animator at MPC, Sony Imageworks, Double Negative, Framework and other places.

I’ve met In-Ah at the speaking engagement in Europe. We cover a lot of cool stuff. Let’s dive in!



I. I hope everyone is enjoying the 3 Episodes per week on Your Best Year Yet. So far, I’ve really liked the idea of a Bootcamp on the same subject. For all the material — including the Guide and 10 free videos, and tutorials — please visit allanmckay.com/bestyearyet.

II. [-1:38:34] I’ve also been working on a new free VFX training that will be released throughout December. This is an actual character VX training, creating a lot of digital make-up, Particle Flow, as well as getting into other fluids. If you want to get access, go to allanmckay.com/decay/. This training will be available throughout December.

Front load the work now — to make it the best year yet!



In-Ah Mellor (Roediger) is a Senior Animator who has worked at places like Framestore, Sony, Double Negative, MPC and several others. After extensive studies of 2D and 3D animation — at Gobelins, L’école de L’image in Paris, France and Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, in Germany — her first job was working on Harry Potter, the Goblet of Fire at Framestore in London. Some of her credits include films like The Smurfs, Hotel Transylvania, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Where the Wild Things Are, Guardians of the Galaxy and many others.

Throughout her career, In-Ah has received multiple awards, including VES Award Nomination for her work on the character of China Doll in the 2014 feature Oz the Great and Powerful. She has been teaching at several schools and workshops. Currently, she resides in Vancouver, Canada and teaches character animation at VanArts.

In this Episode, In-Ah and Allan discuss subjects like working overtime, tips for a successful reel and how — and when — to negotiate a salary raise.


In-Ah Mellor’s Website: https://www.in-ah.com

In-Ah Mellor (Roediger) on IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1781883/

In-Ah Mellor at the Gnomon Workshop: https://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/instructors/in-ah-roediger

In-Ah Mellor at IAMAG Masterclasses: http://www.iamag.co/features/meet-our-speakers-in-ah-roediger/

In-Ah Mellor on CG Channel: http://www.cgchannel.com/2014/06/expert-advice-oz-animator-in-ah-roediger/

In-Ah Mellor’s LinkedIn Profile: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/iroediger


[-[1:35:50] Allan: In-Ah, do you want to give a quick introduction as to who you are?

In-Ah: I’m In-Ah Mellor (formerly In-Ah Roediger). I started out as a 2D animator, then switched to 3D Animation when I was studying in Paris. I started off at Framestore, working on projects like Harry Potter.

[-[1:34:51] Allan: If you want to talk a little bit about your history. Let’s start from the beginning. I always imagine these things go organically. You have a traditional background. You did your first gig at Framestore. Just give a bit of a general introduction. In the past, traditional background was more common. These days, I image people skip over that. 

In-Ah: I started out with traditional animation but then swamped to 3D animation during my studies. I worked at studios in London and Vancouver. I’ve moved around quite a bit, but now I’m going to stay in Vancouver for a while. I’ve switched to teaching which is more stable than film work. That’s what I’m doing right now.

[-[1:31:13] Allan: That’s awesome! We should talk about the stability / instability of our industry. It’s such a taxing job, especially when you have a family.

In-Ah: I also think it’s our generation. When we all started doing animation, we were the first big group to hit the ground running. A lot of us now want to have a family and a life.

[-[1:29:58] Allan: I went back to a studio I’d worked at when I was 20, in LA. It was a massive shift for me, to watch people still throwing themselves under the bus and working until [5:00] in the morning. 

In-Ah: If you do all the ghost hours, the work doesn’t represent what you’re getting paid for — and it really bites everyone in the ass.

[-[1:29:06] Allan: Day rate is a big issue. I love when you work for a studio that works hourly. You get to a point when you’re in your 20th hour and you do the math — and realize you’re not really being compensated. You’re doing a disservice to everyone else because you’re building a misconception. 

In-Ah: Especially, if you add a kid or two on top. Forget about it! If you have 5 kids, you aren’t working in this industry. Most cities that have the hub with film are pretty expensive.

[-[1:27:31] Allan: I wanted to live in Vancouver because it’s a cool city. I remember when I was 21 and had to throw away my dating life because I would have to cancel on everyone. You can’t maintain a normal life that way.

In-Ah: It’s interesting you mention that. Now, with students, they’re talking about [graduating] and going into the real world. I had a long-term relationship when I worked in Amsterdam. That’s where I got to experience games. (First and last time I tried games! I’m not a bit gamer.)

[-1:25:50] Allan: I recently spoke to Wirginia Romanowska, a female animator to work on Doom (allanmckay.com/81/). 

Ih-Ah: I actually got hired to work at Framestore for Doom. I was on it for a week. Then they moved me to tv for 10 days, then to Harry Potter. They were doing work with dinosaurs but the Head of 3D at the time — Michael Eams — suggested [putting me] on the Harry Potter show. I was super happy!

[-[1:24:55] Allan: Going back to Amsterdam, I want to hear all about bad relationships.

In-Ah: Well, because you move around a lot with our job. So if you do manage to date outside of the industry, most people have jobs that stay in one place. So that didn’t really work out because I wanted to go work in London. We did so much motion capture in video games!

[-[1:23:55] Allan: When I worked at Blur, we had these French animators who wanted to do this Disney thing. Most of it was done using Character Studio in 3DS Max. But then, once they finished, there was plenty of games cinematic work. But all of that work — is motion capture. All they did was animate faces and hands. I can imagine it’s not the funnest. I’ve dated people in the industry. It’s interesting but not really good. 

In-Ah: Most people end up dating in the industry. You understand each other’s pains. When I had my first Lead job, I would work 7 days a week. You don’t really see each other much. If you don’t have a partner who understands it, it’s hard. And with my relationship in Amsterdam, I wanted to keep moving. A lot of people go through that.

[-[1:21:14] Allan: Most people have to be understanding and have their own things to keep them going. Places like Sony tend to be pretty reliable. I remember on Smurfs, one of my buddies was two years out — and he started switching to 6 days a week.

In-Ah: That seems kind of normal. They started scheduling weekend. It really burns people out.

[-1:20:00] Allan: I’ve written an article Overtime vs. Productivity (http://allanmckay.com/overtime-vs-productivity-pt-1/ and http://allanmckay.com/overtime-vs-productivity-pt-2/). There are times when you get burned out. Again people start working backwards. The morale is down and they make more mistakes. Do you miss it?

In-Ah: I’ve been away for about 2 years. I don’t miss it at all! All I need to do is go to lunch who works in it, still. I got out when I’ve had just one burnout in my career. Most of the time, I’ve worked on amazing projects with great people. Now, I’m glad I have a job that starts at [9:00] and ends at [4:00].

[-[1:17:24] Allan: I think in this industry where you’re putting in so many hours, it’s okay to have these slack-off moments. 

In-Ah: You just get so tired. You need to step away and go for a walk or something.

[-[1:16:25] Allan: I find a lot of artists tend to goof around because this industry is so fun. When I’m at work, I’m really focused. It’s such a big free-for-all for a lot of people. It sounds like you’re the same.

In-Ah: With my students, they’re so excited. I [try to not be jaded] because it’s awesome to have that enthusiasm.

[-[1:14:26] Allan: Going back to your history, did you always want to be an artist?

In-Ah: Animation never really popped out as a job for me. In Germany, when you’re 18, you do your Bachelors. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I wanted to do something creative. My mom is an artist. She paints and draws, and I was always painting when I was little. I wanted to do something artistic but also something I could live on. So I took a gap year and worked at a radio station RTL, in Luxemburg. I thought I was going to go in the direction of news or tv. But I was always drawing cartoons of the moderation at the radio station. So they suggested I should go to school for animation in Luxemburg. As soon as they said that, I felt that it had found me. I’ve always loved animation and cartoons. I loved drawing — and it’s an actual job. It’s not like being an artist. 

I applied for that school, got in and started studying animation at the Lycee Technique des Arts at Meiers. I know a lot of animators come self-taught. I went to 3 schools: there, L’ecole de L’image in Paris and switched to 3D and Filmakademie of Braten-Wurttemberg in Germany. So my path is lot more academic rather than other people doing online schools.

[-[1:11:24] Allan: I think that online training is the future. Guys like Carlos Baena at Animation Mentor are doing a lot of cool stuff. In general, there is more accessibility and affordability. 

In-Ah: In Germany, we have free education.

[-1:10:29] Allan: Harvard and MIT are putting a lot of free training online. I think it’s cool. I was talking to Jason Scheier (allanmckay.com/75/). He studied until he was about 27 before he started doing concept work for DreamWorks. I think the more you’re able to get those experiences, the more you can apply them later. Whether you do them right away, or hold off later.

In-Ah: I think the Gobelins school in Paris really prepared me for rigid production work. Back then, you had to follow a really strict schedule. At a lot of schools, you can hand in your work in 3 weeks. It wasn’t like that at that school! There was also teamwork. And going to Filmakademie — where I had to work on my short film — there was more trying to get people to do stuff for you, find them and convince them. It was very different, a bit loose. But all that was good training. I actually met the Framestore guys at the FMX job fair. I recommend it to any students to go to festivals and job fairs, to meet people. That was where I met the Framestore guys. When the job started, I felt it was so nice. The hours were regulated, I could work at one thing at a time.

[-[1:07:34] Allan: I always wanted to go to a university. Now I would not have the discipline to do that. You have so many things going in, it does take a lot of discipline to pull that off. 

In-Ah: I think it really taught me to get things done and not procrastinate. I used to procrastinate a lot more. It helped me get over that. My problem is to get started. I’m good at making lists, but then actually do things last minute. Early in my 20s, I learned to keep it in check.

[-[1:06:02] Allan: When you first decided to try going to school, did you have the mentality of the starving artist and not having a job security?

In-Ah: I never really thought that much about money, to be honest. All I ever wanted to do is be able to pay my rent and be able to go out and have a good time. Starting out in London, I was being paid 18K. That was pretty rough. I was in a flat share. But you have to start somewhere. But at least, I never worked for free — which is bad for people who are starting out.

[-[1:04:25] Allan: I’ve started to change my tune a little bit about working for free. Basically, you should explore any opportunities that comes at you. 

In-Ah: But that depends on what kind of a project.

[-[1:04:06] Allan: Absolutely. But if you’re just being taken advantage of — don’t ever do that. If you work for free, it will become more acceptable. I think it’s more about self-respect.

In-Ah: There has to be a balance. The big studios that offer internship programs, that’s really great for people who have no production experience. But still, they get some salary. You should be able to sustain yourself and start somewhere.

[-[1:02:37] Allan: On the flip side, there are a lot people making a lot of money [while] talking about how bad the industry is. During the talk I did this year in Paris, I decided to share my salary [history]; just to point out what the normal numbers were or how to triple it. You can make a lot of money but you have to think outside the box. 

In-Ah: They don’t really teach [students] how to negotiate. I’ve started doing that with my students, in the last weeks. We talk about what to expect for starting salaries and how to do mock interviews.

[-[1:00:13] Allan: Well, Negotiation 101: Let them put down the first numbers.

In-Ah: Yeah, you don’t start with numbers first. And if it’s a good project, we get excited about it. Production does know that and they know they can save a bit.

[-[59:40] Allan: That’s the other thing: It is a fun industry! Because of that, there is a “we’re doing you a favor” sort of thing. Which really sucks! I will say though there are certain places, it is a certain privilege to work for them (so they can pay a little bit less). There are a lot of variables.

In-Ah: I think when you’re starting out, try to get in somewhere where they have interesting projects and try to survive. Then you can switch — and up your value.

[-[56:43] Allan: I do have a pretty strong female audience which is awesome. That’s the one thing that came up: to get more women on the Podcast. What’s your perspective working in the industry as a female?

In-Ah: I also think this question is a bit funny and you get asked that a lot. I’d say on any project I’ve worked on — I’ve never felt like the female in the team. Sometimes, producers talk about more women joining their teams. Once you start on the job, you’re one of the animators. I never felt there was a negative point because of my gender. If you have the ability — and you work well in a team and you’re positive — it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female.

[-[57:04] Allan: Absolutely! It should be that way anyway. It’s good to have a woman’s perspective. Some women in the industry have had a negative experience. But most of the time, it’s not the fact.

In-Ah: It’s different being a woman in a workplace. I’d be lying if I said it’s completely equal. There is a studio in France and they had a female producer who wanted to keep her team all male. When that happened, I was really surprised. Normally, it’s the other way around: Women stick together. A lot of the times, if a man artist and a woman artist are equal [in terms of their skills], the woman will get picked. In some cases, it’s an advantage.

[-[54:18] Allan: I can also come down to the environment. Sometimes, there is a game studio environment and it’s shocked me that it would be all men. Maybe that environment attracts more men.

In-Ah: I think more men play games than women, maybe.

[-[53:31] Allan: I think that’s definitely changed. 

In-Ah: All the anatomy used to be different in games too.

[-[52:50] Allan: In general, I thought the 90s was like the Wild West in games. 

In-Ah: I think games are more male heavy. A lot of high tech jobs are filled with more men. There are not many women in lighting. Although I do know a few women in compositing.

[-[51:49] Allan: I don’t know what it is about Seattle but I know at least three women in high positions there.

In-Ah: But that’s not the norm! That usually sticks out when a woman is in a high role. Working in games, you have to have a good sense of humor and it doesn’t hurt if you can hold your drink. You can’t be too sensitive to certain things. You’ll do great and you’ll have a good time! I think dirty jokes and self-deprecating humor can be fun.

[-[50:21] Allan: The other day, I was having a conversation with someone, with my fiancé. There may be some extra steps where you have to be more careful in presenting yourself as a woman. Some women work really hard to be taken seriously. It’s a pretty interesting subject. For you, going to Framestore, that was your first gig. What was it like moving to London?

In-Ah: Moving wasn’t really a problem. I’ve moved every three years since I was born. My dad was working for German and English banks. I grew up between Munich and London. So it didn’t feel like the city was unfamiliar. I was anxious to sort things out and do things well at the studio. But it was also really exciting. I think the first three months are always a bit rough because you have to find your footing. After that, you start finding your groove. After the Filmakademie, trying to get a short film done and working weird hours, then going to an environment where you do have set hours and your team, it felt really stable and really nice.

[-[46:12] Allan: What were you doing on Harry Potter, what type of work?

In-Ah: So, it was for the Goblet of Fire, the underwater sequence. It has the three-wizard tournament, so we had the sequence with the mermaids. My first shot I worked on, Harry was the size of a little rice grain on the screen in the background.

[-[45:47] Allan: It must’ve been a rewarding moment of your life!

In-Ah: I wish. “That little blob — I did that!” After I did that well, they gave me one where he swims in front of the camera, behind a rock; then you switch to a CG Harry and he swims through the kelp forest. So that was my first challenging shot. He is really big on screen and I had to match Daniel Radcliffe’s swim and then turn that slightly awkward swim a dynamic one, so he could swim through the kelp forest.

[-[44:58] Allan: Nice, nice! Was it intimidating at all: If I screw this up, there will be a lot of angry teenagers?

In-Ah: No, not really. I only then started reading the books, but I didn’t think about the fanbase too much. I was too focused on trying to impress my supervisor and do a good job. And it was a super nice environment. I think they know that you’re nervous and want to do well on your first job. They were super encouraging and positive, giving feedback and everything.

[-[44:07] Allan: I think it’s super important to compensate when people are starting out. For me, I’m pretty brutal: “Yes, this is shit but you’ve got it all set up now, so get it working.” It’s all about the solution. If people are going to take it to heart, you know they’re new. You can compensate a bit. I’ve been in that boat too. 

In-Ah: Yeah, I’m definitely more on the the direct side as well. I’m German-Korean, and you don’t get a lot of flowers in your feedback.

[-[43:06] Allan: I think it’s important. I’ve been doing my Mentorship and giving people feedback. I’ve been conscious to train people for the real world. I’m sure you can comment on this as well. 

In-Ah: You can be direct without being mean. If it gets too flowery, it’s confusing. You don’t want to leave that door open and they bring the work back with no changes. It’s funny coming from Europe. Especially, [when] working in France, the highest praise you’re going to get is “It’s not bad”. You get to London and you get all the swearing. And in North America, it’s “Awesome, awesome, but maybe try this”.

[-[41:42] Allan: I really like that about North America. With the U.S. and Canada, I really love the fact that people are encouraging. I feel that in Australia, everyone is really competitive. People aren’t afraid to take a jab. In the U.S., it’s always going to be more encouraging.

In-Ah: I think that’s why we’ve stuck around here as well. It’s the longest I’ve ever stuck in one place.

[-[40:40] Allan: When did you move to Vancouver?

In-Ah: 2011, the first of January.

[-[40:34] Allan: I thinks that’s just when the industry started booming. 

In-Ah: Sony had just opened.

[-[38:44] Allan: For you, after Framestore, where did you go?

In-Ah: After Framestore, I worked at Double Negative. That was during the time of John Carter and they were hiring a lot of people. Then everything got delayed and got put on Iron Man 2. I think John Carter changed the industry.

[-[38:11] Allan: Because it blew out the budget so much?

In-Ah: Well, that and then a lot of studios started over-hiring. They had a lot of artists waiting around idly, and then people would get laid off. At the time, everything seemed to be drying up in London. That’s why we decided to try to go somewhere else and it felt like a good time to move on. That’s why I sent my stuff to Sony because I heard they had an opening. I almost missed their email though because it went to Spam. I got back to them.

We had a phone interview and it was a lot of fun, actually. The animation director was supposed to be there but he got called away. So I was talking to one of the other Supervisors. Basically we just had a chat about Vancouver. They sorted the visa out [while] I freelanced for a bit, for commercials — and that was a lot of fun! I’ve never done that before. I’d never tried doing that: It’s shorter projects, better pay and higher turnaround — but I really liked that because it pushed me to animate faster. When you work on one shot in 12 weeks, at one point, you just want this thing out of your life. With commercials, it’s quite nice because you actually get to work with the director. There is a much shorter chain of command. I actually really like that! Then, I moved to Canada and joined Sony for a couple of years.

[-[35:25] Allan: Starting out, I always recommend working in commercials. If you work on an animated feature for, say, three years in the beginning of your career, you’re not going to get anything big (unless you’re In-Ah and you get to animate Harry Potter). In general, if you work in commercials, within a year, you’ll have so much polished work [on your reel]! You’ll learn to be fast and you’ll get to grow. You may even get to renegotiate your salary. 

In-Ah: Well, in tv, there are so many awesome shows as well, where you can get some really cool stuff.

[-[34:33] Allan: Also, if you don’t like the project, you know it will be gone in 2-3 weeks. How do you find Sony, compared to the London places?

In-Ah: It’s a whole different beast! They’re really big and their contracts are really big. You can feel that you’re going into a big studio with a lot of history. That’s really different from a European house. Normally, it’s a different approach to things. Sony has its pipeline and tools. It feels really different. I definitely felt like I was going into a big company. I had a good experience there. When I joined, there were only 30 people in Vancouver. [By now], it has changed: Now they’re massive! They’re pushing everyone up here. It was a really good time to join. We did a lot of street hockey and skiing.

Then the work and the projects started getting more and more. We worked on Smurfs. It was [done] 80% in Culver City — 20% in Vancouver. Then after that Hotel Transylvania came in and everyone was super excited. They had it in the wings for a while! I worked on it for about 3 months. Then I got a call from production that they were thinking about me for Oz, the Great and Powerful. It had a China Doll in it. It was really funny. When I worked on The Tale of Despereaux at Framestore, it had some fun characters. I like creepy and ugly characters. When they said China Doll, I thought it was more realistic. I didn’t want to get pigeon holed because of my work on Smurfette. So I decided to ask on Hotel Transylvania. Two weeks later they called again and said they still think I should still transfer.

That was the moment. I asked, “Is this the moment when I ask for more money?” And she said, “You could”. And I said, “I shall.” We had another phone call scheduled for after that. It just came to me in that moment: I finally had leverage!

[-[29:34] Allan: That’s exactly it! It’s the perfect time because they’re coming to you because you’re the perfect candidate. When you go and kick ass, you can step up your income. For you, it was the perfect time and combination. For you, it sounds like you prefer more cartoon stuff than live action. Is that right?

In-Ah: No, actually, I just wanted to have more of that style on my reel to diversify what I already had. Sony was perfect for that and that’s why I wanted to go there. After Oz, they put a lot of us on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

[-[28:06] Allan: I love that film!

In-Ah: It’s so fun, right? After Oz, we were all so burnt out. When we joined Cloudy, it was already 2/3 into production. Obviously, they had their A-team. You’re coming in to help out. It’s fun to be able to do those two styles — realistic and cartoony — but it’s hard to switch your brain when you’re coming off of one [into another]. I felt so tired, I couldn’t enjoy it as much. That was a real shame! I would have wanted to do that one again.

[-[26:42] Allan: I always find that in this industry it’s good to have that time off and recuperate after you burn out. But usually, you don’t get it. I’ve had projects when I would take 1-2 months off to get my head in the game. 

In-Ah: After all that finished, they were asking people to take some time off anyway. I went back to Germany and did some teaching gigs. I actually do seminars at a Film Academy in Amsterdam (Nederlandse Film en Televisie Academie Amsterdam). It’s a one-week workshop. I’ve been doing it every year. I took over 3 months off. I was thinking of taking longer time off because I felt so tired and I felt like I was losing the love for it. I just wanted to see if I wanted to do something else. I felt lost at that time. And then, through my friend Catherine Mullan, who was at MPC, I went to MPC to work on Guardians of the Galaxy. That was a really good experience to switch it up. I really enjoyed it there.

[-[23:57] Allan: What were you doing on Guardians?

In-Ah: Lots of stuff with spaceships. I had one shot with a raccoon but it got cut. It was just a short gig, 3 months or so. I had a few teaching things lined up. I came back to work on Goosebumps, until I went on maternity leave. I bet they loved that!

[-[23:18] Allan: I haven’t seen Goosebumps. I loved the books when I was a kid. What were you doing on that?

In-Ah: Just the creatures like the werewolf, the giant mantis.

[-[22:47] Allan: Do you find that you still have a lot of creative control — at least the rewarding kind — when you do creature work, as opposed to more cartoon stuff? Because obviously you have to hit a very specific performance. 

In-Ah: It’s really different. If you’re doing creature work, you look at a lot of reference, physics. I look at a lot of werewolves. There is more physics involved. I like the challenges of both. I like to get a creature to look good. When you get it right and it looks cool, it’s a great feeling.

[-[20:59] Allan: It’s more about subtlety and less is more. Whereas with cartoons, more is more. 

In-Ah: Coming from drawing and 2D, I missed that cartoony style. With China Doll, I loved all the subtle stuff on her face. If you posed her mouth corners in a certain way, she started looking like this witch. That was really fun!

[-[19:57] Allan: Do you have any routines when you’re working on a project? Like, getting up early.

In-Ah: In the mornings, I’m like, “Where is my coffee?” When you have kids, it changes that because they wake you up. It’s nice to get an early start to the day, I totally understand why people do it. It’s just not in my nature. I warm up at around 10:00 a.m. With kids, you’re out of bed at [7:30].

[-[18:59] Allan: I’m usually a morning person.

In-Ah: I think it’s healthier. I’ve done the other way around but I function better if I force myself to get up earlier.

[-[18:08] Allan: I would come in at [4:30] in the morning. If you’re able to come in when there are no distractions, you can put in a whole day of work.

In-Ah: [4:30], that’s just crazy! 

[-[17:42] Allan: [4:30] is crazy, but I like going home at 6:00 p.m. and having a normal life. 

In-Ah: Are you someone who can get by on little sleep?

[-[16:44] Allan: Six hours is usually good for me. I’ve done all the long days. It sickens me to see people to take pride in working long hours. Sleep is so important! What’s your opinion on having a traditional background: being able to illustrate and sketch, or having more of that 2D understanding of characters? Do you think it’s important for people to have that kind of a background?

In-Ah: I think it’s good to have a drawing ability. I don’t think it’s really necessary if you want to do 3D animation. I’ve met too many amazing animators who use video reference. I think with the tool of having the phone and taping yourself doing stuff — is a really good one. You don’t need to have a drawing tool. I seem to analyze and stylize better [when I draw]. But nowadays, you don’t really need it to be good at animation. I’ve seen people from computer science background.

[-[13:40] Allan: That’s cool! Is that a bit of a tool these days? Instead of a pocket mirror, you have your iPhone reversed?

In-Ah: I think I still need a mirror. It’s important for mass shapes and for acting it out which helps you feel the shot more. It’s more like when you draw a funny face, you start making that face. It’s similar with animation. Even if you don’t use your own video reference, it’s good to have done it for analyzing it.

[-[12:32] Allan: Last year, Andrew Schmidt was telling me that you could book out these little rooms at Pixar with cameras and act out your performance. I thought it was cool to have some privacy. 

In-Ah: Pixar has amazing facilities.

[-[11:43] Allan: You obviously review a lot of reels from animators, is that right?

In-Ah: I’ve done a few. You rush through them a bit. A lot of time, reels get pre-screened by production. You get called in as a Lead. They’ve already been pre-selected. I’ve gone to a job fair for Sony as well and you basically have two buckets: “pass on” and “discard”. I know is weird.

[-[09:50] Allan: That’s exactly why you don’t want to go through HR: because you have to go through all these rounds. Whereas if you know someone, your work is going to be put in front of the right person.

In-Ah: Although I sent my stuff randomly to Sony, someone in HR. So it can work!

[-[09:12] Allan: That’s pretty cool! 

In-Ah: Nowadays, you get a Vimeo link and you can click through it.

[-[07:54] Allan: Do you have any industry advice for people who are trying to break in? You teach at Van Arts. You help people day to day. Do you have any advice?

In-Ah: When you have your showreel, it’s important to show it to a couple of people who are in the industry before you send it in. Oftentimes, people cram too much on their reels and you can see the quality difference between shots. Make sure that everything looks really good, even if it’s 30 seconds long. When you’ve done 5 animation exercises, it’s hard to see what’s good for yourself.

[-[05:53] Allan: Whenever you’re starting out, you’re emotionally tied to that one piece from your student work. It’s always that one piece that makes you pull out the resume. I’ve seen people not get a job because of one 2-second shot.

In-Ah: My ex-boyfriend was in editing so we did a quick intro piece [to my reel]. It was a good way to make me feel satisfied that my student work was still there. Then I could start my reel.

[-[04:10] Allan: YouTube started doing that for movie trailers because of the short attention span of the Millennials. 

In-Ah: I knew that you needed to catch attentions, then present something solid and then something good to end with. Which is how I approached it. Then my name and job title.

[-[03:22] Allan: That’s a really good advice. There are so many reels to go through. You want to get their attention. One last question: Where would people go online to learn more about you? Do you have a website?

In-Ah: Yes. It’s www.in-ah.com. I haven’t updated it in a while. My showreel, portfolio and CV are on it. And I’m on LinkedIn as well.


Thank you to In-Ah for doing this Episode. Tomorrow’s Episode is about Jumping on New Trends and different way that you can get ahead. To get access to the Bootcamp, go to allanmckay.com/bestyearyet/.

Email me with your feedback on these Episodes at [email protected]. I would love to hear from you!

Please leave a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

Rock on!


Let's Connect

View my profile on