• Nate Lane: Something that I would love to hear is about specific instances of which you were challenged with a particular shot, and how you overcame it.

This is a tough one to answer Nate as it changes with every shot I find myself having a hardtime with. I’ll try to be as direct and upfront with my answer.

I think the main thing is to not let it get to you. It’s normal, and it happens to even the most experienced animators I’ve met. We all get challenged for different reasons in different shots. Not one shot comes easy. However, how you get out of that funk is something that will be a challenge in itself as well. So, yeah, the main first step I’d say is to not get stressed out about it, and accept that the shot is just difficult and you are struggling with it. And that’s fine.

When that happens to me, I usually get the hell out of my office. I’ll do whatever else. Go to the gym. Go watch something that while it may be related to whatever it is I have to animate, is not putting pressure in me having to finish it. Is this make sense? I hope so. The main thing is to get distracted and find inspiration/motivation somewhere else. What I’m looking for here is an outlet, so that I can go back to the challenge with a different perspective.

Now, these are the difficult parts:

  • If the challenge is a technical one (splines, blocking to polish, polish back to blocking) I’ll address where I am at. If I’m at a polish face, and I just have gotten notes for a major change in the shot, that’s not easy to address. Sometimes you’ll save more time by going back and simplifying your curves, even going back to blocking (address the notes) and then polish again…than if you had to fix it all within the polish. That keeps things more organized somewhow.
  • If the challenge is an idea one (acting choices, shot ideas), I don’t even touch the computer. Seriously. I can’t start animating until I know what it is I’ll animate and how I’ll approach it. It goes back to being organized, and that applies to having all your homework done beforehand (or as much preparation as you have time to do). So, if I’m stuck with my ideas…I may braimstorm with a co-worker or two. Usually find people that will be constructive and will want to help. Sometimes in that collaboration, something cool will come up. (…..or not)
  • If it’s a company/studio challenge…that’s a whole different story. Remember that politics are everywhere. We are not kidding ourselves, and sometimes you’ll have to work with very different people, artists especifically, people with different skills, with different agendas, you’ll find egos and others with no egos at all, you’ll find people that are difficult to work with and viceverse. In my case, when I have found myself having a hardtime on anything like this, I prefer to waste that energy going back to doing my work and really focusing on that. Chances are, by the end of the day, I (hopefully) have forgotten what was worrying me in the first place. And if it hasn’t…well, I can go home, jump on the couch and watch a movie. 🙂

It’s all relative. This is more or less how I’d start thinking about some of these challenges.
But it’s always different. Every challenge will be different. Just be aware that no one is perfect, that a lot more other people have it a lot worse and that having bumps in the road is part of the process, especially for one as slow one as animation. It’s more how you manage to get past these bumps what will be the main challenge.