Escape Studios hosted their very successful, one-night REEL TALK Live event, with a line up of industry guest speakers. They had Michelle Blok, Visualization Supervisor from The Third Floor, Luca Mazzoleni, Head of Animation from Jellyfish Pictures and Greg Smith, Senior Environment Artist from Creative Assembly. Escape Studios welcomed the artists to their Midtown Campus where they would review some of their Escapees (alumni) work.


Throughout the night they shared exclusive tips on what it takes to create a successful portfolio, and the guests were able to ask direct and specific questions.

Michelle Blok has supervised all areas of previs, postvis, and techvis, so she has a broad knowledge of animation and how to make a story stand out with composition, lighting and action. She shared tips such as:

  • For your animation story, think about your camera placements to set the mood: if you want your character to feel heroic put the camera low or vice versa
  • Emphasise expressions on a character's face
  • Cut your animation up and show a mash-up of various clips throughout the showreel rather than one long animation

She was also very keen to point out that you should not put your phone number on the title card!

We were also able to hear from Luca Mazzoleni who has over 30 years of experience as a Lead Animator, Animation Supervisor and Story Artist on many creature-heavy and animated feature films. He was very detailed on what it takes to make your animation clean and realistic. Some of the advice he gave was:

  • Put your best piece first, and your second best piece last
  • Learn where to put the weight of the body when the character is moving. You could reference this from filming videos of yourself acting
  • If you present a smooth 2D animatic, make sure your 3D animation is even better


Last but not least, we had Greg Smith who shared his story of how he started his game art career testing games. He then moved to Creative Assembly in 2007, and has since worked on the critically-acclaimed Alien: Isolation, Total War: Shogun 2 and Total War: Three Kingdoms. He reviewed the only game art portfolio of the night, looking at a range of work from 3D assets, environments and materials. His main points were:

  • Present organic and hard surface models
  • Show texture channels, textured maps and references
  • Avoid creating large expanses and then losing detail, you could instead focus on a small area and make it stand out!

To end the night we had a networking session where our industry speakers could answer our guests’ burning questions on what it takes to break into the industry, or more specific portfolio advice.