Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Something's not quite right here

The guy in the studio who appears to be here all the time, clearly working, has less to show for it than anyone else. Something just isn't working for him.

I've seen that happen a few times with people. Usually it comes down to confidence and just getting it right first time. Nervous, often new, animators can dive straight into a scene, work like blazes, then they find a snag. That snag causes them to rethink, change or dump what they've done already and try a different approach.

And then they find another snag. And it goes on.

Making changes to scenes in the good ol' days required more work, in theory. You'd have to dump bunches of pages and redraw from scratch. A whole new animation. With Flash, which we're working with now, you can modify things easier. You don't have to dump everything. You can go in and change symbols and amend timing seemingly with ease.

The problem is that, when you make quite a few changes, your Flash file can get really messy. Too many symbol changes, too many joins, pieces of animation that don't fit with others. It soon begins to show. Then the director doesn't approve the scene and it requires even more changes.

Sometimes it's better just to throw them out and start again, like the old days.

But in terms of working approach, this is not how most animators work anyway. They don't dive into a scene without knowing what they are doing. They look at it, feel it, figure out how it should work, look at what comes before and after and then, when they know what they're doing, they animate it. And, mostly, they get it right first time.

I suspect that's what the overnight guy isn't doing.


Andy Latham said...

It's the same with 3D for me. I dived right into my first scene here and just made things difficult for myself further down the line. In subsequent scenes, I did a lot more thinking before I started.

me said...

A little bit of planning goes a long way. Plus actionscript is you're never gonna need to convert it to something else.

Jenny Lerew said...

Hard to say as everyone is so different(in my experience anyway), but boy, this is a fascinating topic. Good on you for bringing it up and ruminating on it.

I've seen both: the guy who stays all night and does a great job and the guy who does as you describe.

The key word for me is also confidence. Second-guessing can be fatal. Who hasn't overthought something and done it over and over to find that the first bunch of drawings were by far the best?
Of course, I'm talking about storyboarding and not animating...but it definitely applies. Whatever a person can do to psyche themselves into really "feeling it" helps enormously towards getting a good result--be it listening to the right music, no music, walking around for a bit just thinking, whatever--but it does seem to(for me) all boil down to confidence. It really tells.

Ron said...

Sooo true, I've had a few of those. They put in twice as many hours as the average animator, but only produce half as much, usually because they take an internet break every 10 minutes, for about...10 minutes.... then back to work for ten minutes... then they're like "oh shit, deadline tomorrow".... and you see them asleep at their desk, noon the next day after an all-nighter, and the scene still isn't done, but other animators take pity... "poor guy must have had some tough scenes, he was here all night." hahahah.

Bitter Animator said...

Yeah, I've seen many of those guys myself, Ron and I suspect they are becoming more common. Oddly, it doesn't seem to be the case for this guy. The director, for a while now, has been watching him like a hawk and the guy seems to be actually working constantly. No breaks. He's working his ass off.

He's just not producing the results.

I've seen the director campaign to get rid of people far sooner (though the producer seems to have an allergy to firing people) but, with this guy, he seems more genuinely baffled - like he's studying him to find out just what isn't working.

murrayb said...

are they a "scene snacker"? someone who does a bit on each scene but never finishes what they start?

pose to pose animation is built up in stages, but you have to take the leap to the next stage, scrubbing your timeline obsessively doesn't get it done. Sometimes it's nice to surprise yourself; think of the old WB guys who couldn't even test their stuff, while we are essentially working in a line tester with flash.

maybe "stick to the plan" should be this guys new mantra.
In the old days you would start as an inbetweener, and it gave you a feel for timing; cushions, settles, antics ect. It's good to have the formulas in your repitore.

Maybe he needs to team with an experienced guy and they can do a double quota.

Bitter Animator said...

An interesting question about the snacking, Murray, and something I'll watch out for tomorrow. You're right about people missing those stages now. Worst part is, some of us learned on that system and are losing the benefits of it now. I have no doubt whatsoever that I am now a worse animator than I was five years ago.

This poor guy's situation is being made worse by ridiculous new targets. We're all behind now. We're supposed to be getting 12 seconds per day on what is supposed to look like a quality show. It's getting a bit messy.