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.
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?