Sunday, February 10, 2013

Been putting this off for far too long

For a long time now, I've been meaning to write a post about some of my concerns and insecurities about being an animator. I'm not sure why I've delayed posting this for so long. I feel like I've made myself vulnerable in the past and I am hesitant about sharing too much. Then again, I've put a lot of myself into my work, to the point where I'm almost uncomfortable talking about it. If you want your animation to be true to life, then shouldn't it be about what you know, and be told in an honest and sincere, meaningful way? I am torn between doing this and revealing too much. At the same time I do not want to be dishonest in my own work and maybe I just need to get over feeling uncomfortable. I don't know. Anyway, that's not entirely what this post is about (even though that's what I've written so far..)

Mainly, I'm worried about whether I'm "doing things right"...which is a very anxiety driven thought. I think I focus on this too much, but at the same time, it is something worth thinking about. The problem is focusing on this and over-thinking to the point where I do not get the work done. I feel that many people have this problem. When I do work, I often second-guess myself and think about how things could be better. If I weren't in school and was doing projects on my own, I think I would end up being impatient and scrap things too soon. I realize this is a learning process and I'm not going to like everything I've come out with. In fact, a lot of animators aren't happy with their work, and are always seeking to improve. I appreciate the attitude of always being a "student" because there's always more you can learn. At the same time, though, I feel that we should acknowledge the improvement and change that happen over time, and not dismiss those things as meaningless by saying "oh, I could do better, this is no good, no good at all, I hate where I am in this process, etc"- and instead, say "this is better than my previous work, I still have more to learn, but I am happy with my progress, I am always learning new things and everyone learns at a different pace, etc"- thereby having a more positive attitude. I think about the project I worked on for over two years in undergrad. I watch it now and I am unhappy with it. I see things I want to change and revise, but know I should move on. I almost wish I had moved on and worked on other projects while in undergrad. My concern is about whether I am doing good work now.

I am really enjoying my classes so far. In Expressive Motion, I am finally learning Maya, something that has been a huge struggle for me thus far. I like the project I am working on in my studio class. 6300, the class that is preparing us to write our theses, caters a bit more to the DRD track than DAIM- but I really like our professor, and the class is enjoyable. My main concern is about whether I am spending the time outside of class wisely.

There are so many things I want to learn, and I realize these are things that I need to be self-reliant about. The people who were most successful in undergrad were those who went and did things for themselves...the time spent outside of class is just as, if not more, important than the hours spent in. People tell me I am a good animator, but there are so many things I need to improve on. I think that a lot of this can be addressed by simply doing more work, and practicing. But how to organize my time so I can do all these things! Here is a list of some of my goals.

1. I need to animate quadrupeds. It's simply something I haven't done nearly enough of. One assignment in my intermediate animation class (taken over 5 years ago), and the cat at the beginning of my demo reel, are the extent of my experience doing this

2. Volume control and consistency. Even though I've been doing animation for a long time, this is still something I have not mastered yet. I am careful and check from drawing to drawing that volumes are consistent. But I tend to have trouble with this.

3. Secondary action. Things like hair moving, flags waving in the wind, clothing, things blowing in the wind in general...basically things that aren't living things, reacting to environmental factors.

4. Certain effects. I know effects animation is different than character animation, and there are programs that will do some of these things so you don't have to draw it all out. But I want to know how to do it anyway. Things like water in general, large bodies of water, splashes, fire, lightning, etc. This ties in with secondary action somewhat

5. Character performance. This is a big one because character animation is my main focus. I need to improve and do more dialogue tests.

6. I need to improve my illustration skills. I am interested in storyboarding/character design as well as animation. I want to get better at working in color as well.

7. I need to get better at pretty much every software related to animation. I work with them all, but I have not mastered them, to the extent that I want to.

Why do I want to know all these different things if I want to be a character animator? Well, I want to know how to animate more than just characters. I want to make my own independent short animated films, heavily employing traditional animation. I want to improve in all these ways so I can make my own films better...and pre-production is also something I am interested in. I want to be proficient in animation and character design/storyboarding. That is my main goal, and I feel that I am not there yet.

The problem is there are so many different things I want to do that it gets overwhelming. What order should I do these things in, and where should I even begin.

I realize this entry isn't terribly organized, with lots of different ideas floating around. I've been meaning to write this for a long time now. Any feedback would be appreciated.


  1. Personally I find it's helpful to not worry about the particular skills that I have or don't have, and to focus in stead on the projects I would like to work on. What you want to make can then be the guide for what skills to develop at any given time. Have a story about a quadruped that you are passionate about? then leave effects animation for another day.

    It may be helpful to think about why you want to have all of these skills. What exactly do you want to do with them once you have them? Then just go and do those things that you want to do whether you feel you have the skills for them or not. Working on those projects will help you develop your skills much more quickly than simple exercises, and you may find it more motivating as well.

    1. Thank you Sheri! That is good advice!