Ben asked this:

I wanted to ask you, was there ever a time when you found it hard to animate, or felt like your original passion for animation was no where to be found? If you have experienced this at some point what brought your passion back?, what caused you to remember how special animation was? I am curious, as i have experienced these feelings and would like to know if professional animators, like yourself, go through similar times.
Absolutely. I can’t talk for other people, but I feel it is quite normal to not always feel as motivated doing what we do for years and years. Motivation is definitely not the same as when we are starting for example. Something I decided many years back was to keep myself busy outside my full-time job whether I was working on commercials, at ILM or currently at Pixar. I chose to do different things that while were close to Film/Animation were different enough to keep me motivated/inspired somehow, such as shorts/videos/music and/or photography. Things that are different visual for the most part but similar in nature and that I enjoy quite a lot. The AnimationMentor School has kept my mind quite busy for a few years outside my full-time as well. What those things ended up doing was for me to not get burned out on my day job and have other things to keep my head balanced. I didn’t want my entire life to revolve around ILM…or Pixar. I’ve done it in previous jobs and I can easily get more frustrated at my own work, more stuck, more unmotivated or feel like my life is going no where. Instead, I wanted to try to continue growing as an artist/filmmaker while learning in these places. Sometimes it worked and other times not as much. It is not easy. By nature it’s easy to focus on the struggle…but the best part is that in everything we do, we always have a choice.

In terms of actual animation shots, since I started at Pixar, I’ve been trying to focus every shot more from an acting point of view, trying to figure out new ideas to do in every new shot and also add something new to what I’ve done in previous shots of mine or previous films. The idea is to push my animation skills and not get stuck. I believe in the quote “you are as good as your last shot”, so I try different things on every new shot and see if I can do something new and fun. I try to not look at my job as a routine, as a 9-5pm job…because I know then I’ll easily burn out. So if I’m feeling pressured, if I’m not feeling as motivated or anything similar, I’ll take a break, I’ll focus on a different shot if I have the chance or I’ll focus on something different I may have going on…until my motivation to get back to that shot comes back. It’s always a matter of balance I think.

One last thing that a couple of people did mention, which I should of added is in terms of hanging onto those animation things that inspire me. I have a bunch of things that I keep in my hardrive as gold. Either animated shots that when I saw them I went “That’s what I’d like to shoot for”, either animated shortfilms that I keep going back to over and ever, or simply live-action acting moments that make me go “I’d LOVE to animate something like this”. For example, there is a piece of dancing from Gene Kelly/Donald O’Connor in the film “Singin’ in the Rain” that blows me away every single time. The foot work, the rhythm, the poses, pretty much everything. It easily makes me go “that looks impossible to animate”…however, it also makes me go “I would love to try it”. So, find your own sources of inspiration, and whenever you feel down in animation, just get back to those.

Something important to know is that this is normal. We can’t stay motivated all the time. But we can try in different ways. So the idea is to find things within the job, within the animation work or within our lives, that makes go back to our job differently, recharges us or breaks up the routine somehow, as that will bring excitement/motivation in doing this.

I hope this helps.