Saturday, April 5, 2008

Your A Natural Kido. . . . NOT!

The image of James Baxter in the previous post got me thinking. Lets have another look at it shall we.And here is another one of him at another desk. Apart from the obvious fact that his desk is a lot bigger than those we have at Southbank what other difference can you notice?
Look at all the stuff he has stuck all over his lightbox, this guy is trying to remember a ton of stuff all at once (welcome to animation) and to help him remember he has put notes and images all around his work space. When I started to think about it I was amazed at how many students I see sit down at the lightbox and just try to pull some animation out of thin air. For a very tiny percentage this might be ok, but for us mere mortals its never going to result in work that has the extra level of polish and appeal we are all chasing. What I fear is that these students return home, watch some high quality animation on TV or DVD and think something along the lines of, "they must be so much more talented than me."

I'm not a big believer in "talent", if there is such a thing I think its just a tendency to be persistent, or to set your standards higher than the next person. What we can see in these images is that James Baxter has had to sit and think about whats lacking in his work and make a point of addressing it in the future. Even for the best, it doesn't just happen. Its the result of planning, self discipline and persistence.

In this next pic, Dave Pruiksma is animating Mrs. Potts in Beauty & The Beast. Look at all those little notes at the top of his desk. This is very common among animators, they tend to say things like, "Push for more emotion", "The eyes tell the story", "Where is the Line of Action and Why?", "Appeal, Appeal, Appeal!" and so on.

The animator has identified his or her week points and resolved to address them. What are your week points? Do you even know? If you don't know, don't you think you should? What steps have you taken to do something about it? How many times a day do you think about improving on them?

It takes more than just a note, but I think its a clue as to how a successful animator thinks about his or her self. Objective, Critical, Constructive. Not just sometimes, but every time they sit down to work, they want to be reminded of the things they should be doing better. Its not a pain, or a drag, its something they crave. Do you think that's something you can say about your behaviour? If the answer is no, do you have the commitment to do something about it?

Lets be honest here, if I thought the majority of my students were already in this frame of mind I wouldn't feel the need to make this post. If you are a Southbank student then I would say there is at least a 70% chance this is directed at you! SO PAY ATTENTION, ALL THE INFORMATION IN THE WORLD WONT MAKE YOU AN ANIMATOR IF YOU DON"T HAVE THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TOWARDS YOUR WORK!

While researching this post I found this great site with heaps of images of animators at work. Here are some of my favourites.

Glen Keane, even he has little images up. Sometimes a little drawing is better than a note, as long as you associate it with something. It should mean something to you like, try for this kind of feeling, or draw this loose, or keep it this energetic.

Uli Meyer on Roger Rabbit, I wonder if all those drawings to his left are his? Maybe he has gathered some pictures that other people who work in the studio have drawn, reminding him of the level he must aspire to.
Lets look at some more legends of the trade. Study their workplaces. Are any of these people just relying on "talent" alone to be good?
Retta Scott
Richard Williams and Ken Harris
Tissa David
Ward Kimball
Ollie Johnston
Frank Thomas
So for starters your work place at home should be covered in this kind of stuff, reminders, tips and pointers, tailored to your specific skill set. To the point, useful advice directed at your particular weaknesses and aspirations. Myself and the other teachers are only with you when you're in class, and even then we have 10 to 20 other students to tend to, you'll have to be your own teacher some of the time, keep yourself on your toes. You can't be dependant on a particular place or having particular people around to improve, that needs to come from within you.

But what about when you come to class. We have big tables covered in desks, everyday we sit in different spots. How can you have specific pointers at your desk when you might come in tomorrow and find someone else in your spot? Well maybe we need a rethink. I haven't discussed this with the other teachers yet, but maybe we could assigned a lightbox to each student. That way you could keep notes and images at your spot to help drive you towards better work. If that doesn't happen, there are other ways, keep a notebook, even a piece of card with different bits and pieces stuck to it. You can't cop out because of the circumstances, we need to find a way. Lets take it to the next level.

"Keep moving Forward"

Walt Disney

1 comment:

Ian said...

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