I like the use of a reference. I actually would need it to maintain consistency and to do varying camera angles like you have here. I think it would be even more helpful if used against a moving camera, so you can get away from the 2D static backgrounds.
It is industry standard to do block animation of your work before jumping the gun. So I can do nothing but give applause to the dedication that went in for making this shot as good as possible. The more references you have the better. Also there are quite a few things in the description hinting that this person is or have been quite involved in professional work. Thank you for reading. This one year late reply.
In order for one to gain the title "Animator" He has to be fast as the wind, and as smooth as the running waters of a waterfall. If you cannot perform theses tasks, then he will not gain the title "Animator", he is lacking the wind.
Your words are more hateful by assuming too much. You don't even know how long it took. You can't ORDER someone to "step up their game." And a graduate may do as they please. It's a free world; you can't go around telling people what to do. Give constructive criticism, and give actual steps for people to follow. If that's the steps it takes for them to get that finished product, leave them be. As a person in the creative industry, I know that there's all manner of weird and whacky ways of approaching a task. It's all about getting the product exactly as you would like it.
Disregarding my comment or changing the subject renders your views null. Not like they were helpful in the first place.