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.
Animation is generally referred to as the means by which artists imbue drawings, virtual rigs, or physical objects with the illusion of life. Character animation adds that this illusion portrays an individual with specific characteristics, mannerisms, beliefs, etc. This is the typical way to think of what we do, and it’s certainly a valid definition. However, I would like to explore another way to interpret that term and how it applies to us as human beings.
Eight years. Eight years and countless hours is how long it took me to finally “break in” to the animation industry. Most of my classmates didn’t make it. In fact, if you told them at the beginning that it would take that long, they would have stopped even sooner. That’s certainly not to say that there was anything wrong with them, or that I’m in any way superior. I’m sure that most of them had more talent and smarts than me, which is why they’ve gone on to other things and done well. My undeniable lack of talent is probably what’s most responsible for any success I’ve had as an animator. I simply didn’t have any other option to fall back on! Read more
I’ve always had a bit of an issue with how “the industry” is portrayed to animation students. I used to think that it was some kind of Mount Olympus-like place where only the gifted went to make incredible art and live easy. I remember all too well sitting in my room, beating my head against a little laptop with this ridiculously complicated thing called Maya on the screen, and despairing about how far I still had to go to get there. Read more