I had to give this one a little time before I wrote it. It was important to let those involved grieve and process what happened without one more person adding their opinion. I want to send my best wishes to all of the incredibly talented and dedicated people who lost their livelihoods from yet another sudden studio closure. In a situation that has become far too common, hundreds of families went from the security of full-time employment at a famous company to complete uncertainty. Though I’ve never experienced those exact circumstances, I will never forget the harrowing feeling of losing a job and not knowing how I would provide for my loved ones. I hope you all are doing okay.
There are all kinds of fancy animation tools, plugins, scripts and tricks that I use to enhance my animation workflow. Though in my opinion, none of them are as valuable as a pen and paper. Physically writing things down is the foundation of everything that I do in my work. It’s the most basic tool you can use, but in my opinion there’s no better way to organize your thoughts and come up with new ones than by making lists. Here I’ll explain how I use lists in every phase of a shot.Read more
Whenever some great piece of animation or visual effects is posted online, invariably the most repeated questions is “What software did you use?” CGI has been around for decades, yet the impression that software is responsible for the art still persists. Schools tout their cutting-edge computer labs and 3D packages, claiming to teach what studios want to see. Students are forced to buy software books with horrendous-looking CG characters on the cover, and follow tutorials that don’t result in anything even resembling industry standard art.
Working at a computer all day is bad for you. Sitting in a chair all day, staring at a bright screen, contorting your wrists around a mouse and keyboard, and hunching your shoulders forward for hours will take a toll on your health eventually. It doesn’t help that for the rest of the day we’re sitting down driving, slouched over our phones, and loafing in front of the TV. If you want a long career in animation, it’s absolutely essential that you learn how to take care of yourself and fight the effects of sedentary life. Gravity punishes laziness, and you can see examples all around you.
Probably the scariest time in your career will be the beginning, while you search for that elusive first job. Getting your foot in the door and convincing someone to pay you for animation is no easy thing. There are some who are snatched up right out of school and they’re set, but for most of us that is not the case. You should be prepared for a long, hard road ahead; one that probably won’t take you the direction you’ve envisioned. Talk to most professionals and they’ll tell you about the jobs they didn’t expect to have, the opportunities that popped up out of nowhere, and the rejections and failures they went through.
Feedback, in my opinion, is one of the most crucial components of success in animation. The desire to seek, accept, and implement feedback is directly proportional to how well you will do in the long run. There can be a lot of emotional resistance to showing peers and supervisors unfinished work. Our identity and self worth tend to get wrapped up in our art. This is perfectly natural, but has to be out in check so that we can be open to outside opinions and direction.
Here’s an image I’d like to shatter right now: none of us are perfect. Read more
Animation is crazy fun. The process is fun, the results are fun, and showing it off is fun. Naturally, crazy action pieces and slow, subtle acting are the hardest things to do and the most impressive things to look at, so that’s what we want to do most! From the second that we open up Maya for the first time, all we want to do is create the next masterpiece that will blow all the studios away and send our demo reel right to the top. Bouncing balls are great and all, but that 20-second hardcore parkour sequence will be our ticket to the big time!
That enthusiasm is great, but it has to be held in check. Read more
It’s so easy to get tunnel vision when you’re deep into a shot. I can get so focused on the arc of a wrist that I’m completely blind to the fact that the whole pose is wrong. I can be so concerned with my shot having a perfect beginning and ending that I forget that it needs to hook up seamlessly with the ones before and after. Losing sight of the big picture is something everyone is guilty of at one time or another. It’s important to learn how to recognize it when it happens, and how to deal with it.
If you’ve been lucky enough to go to one of those universities that is renowned for its animation program and its students are actively recruited by major studios, good for you. Seriously, that’s awesome. But this post isn’t for you; you don’t need it. This is for the rest of us who, upon graduation, suddenly realize that it didn’t work. After all those years of overnighters, stressful finals, and bad cafeteria food, the demo reel we cut together to send out to the world. . . sucks.