Interview with Benjamin Vu, of SkyVu

On Friday, July 15, 2011, Nick sat down with Benjamin Vu in Omaha, Nebraska, to discuss animations, games, and most importantly, the people who make them. Benjamin Vu is the co-founder and President of SkyVu Entertainment, which publishes top-selling mobile games, such as the Battle Bears franchise, as well as other media content, such as eBooks published under the Story Boy arm of SkyVu. A full-length animated feature based on Battle Bears is scheduled to be in production, as well. Nick would like to thank Mr. Vu for taking the time to answer his questions.

N:  Which skills are most important to acquire in order to break into the animation or game industries?
BV:  For character animation, motion and acting. For environments, building/modeling and painting/texturing.

N:  What type of person does it take to become an animator?
BV:  An actor, an observer, a performer.

N:  A game developer?
BV:  A developer has a yearning to make the perfect game. S/he is always chasing this perfect game.

N:  An entrepreneur?
BV:  An entrepreneur wants to change the world in some positive way. Whether they realize it or not, entrepreneurs positively affect the world by creating jobs, opportunities, and experiences. And an entrepreneur is resilient.

N:  What do you look for most in a new employee?
BV:  Passion. You have to really want it. And focus. Know what you want to do, where to go, and your specific skill set. Do whatever it takes to get in.

N:  Aside from experience, what do you feel most prospective employees lack? (Mr. Vu struggled for a bit to come up with something besides experience that new job-seekers typically lack. Then he settled on the following.)
BV:  Clarity. Knowing what you want, and presenting a body of work that applies to the job for which you’re applying. Especially for animation jobs, demonstrating a knowledge of motion, weight, momentum, and physics.

N:  Any advice on resumes/cover letters?
BV:  Less is more. Ideally, you should be able to fit your resume into an email if you had to. Don’t list unnecessary things. GPA is one of those unnecessary things. Locations and dates for jobs are usually not needed. A single sentence to describe what you did at a job is usually enough. You don’t have to hype every job that you did, either. I had one guy who put down that for a job at Target he just moved boxes. I appreciated the honesty, and it still showed that he had the competence and reliability to hold a job.

N:  Any suggestions for interns or new employees on the job?
BV:  Keep a pad of paper on you and take notes. Your boss sees your interest then, and you can go to it in case your boss gets confused about what s/he has told you or your responsibilities.

N:  Are there any conferences or organizations you would suggest for the aspiring animator or game developer?
BV:  The International Game Developers Association (IGDA), Comic-Con, The Game Developers Conference (GDC), Siggraph, and The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX).

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