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So you want to be an Animator? Here's what to expect.

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So you want to be an Animator? Here's what to expect.

Do you want to be an animator? Want to do 2D? 3D? Stop motion? Ask your questions here.

Aloha,
the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

Wow.

I've spent the last 2 hours reading this thread word for word. The diversity in this thread is exactly what I needed to read.

My issue. Point Blank Form:

-30 years old. Married 4 years (together 8). No children.
-Have previous schooling and portfolio is mainly - web and print.
-2D/3D is my passion. Gaming is my passion.
-I have been drawing since I can remember.
-I'm in a booming Oil and Gas Industry in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
-Proof that money isn't happiness.
-I want to attend an entry level course that touches base on all genres/avenues of the gaming industry, while I beef up my portfolio in 3D
-Main concern. 2 cities in Canada. Vancouver and Toronto. I have to sell my house, relocate and buy a house in that market, and attend fulltime school.
-I am leaning towards Toronto for education at these institutes:

http://postsecondary.humber.ca/proglist.htm - scroll down to MEDIA

http://aac.senecac.on.ca/index_content.html - which I don't know.

http://www.wherecreativitygoestoschool.ca/artinstitutes/toronto/programs/media_arts/game_art_design.aspx - for the broad spectrum. To find the road/avenue I want to go down. Model? Map design? etc...

I am leaning towards the art institute. Use that to beef my resume as I expand my portfolio and hone my skills.

Here is my dilemma. I know what industry I want to tackle, explore, be a part of and grow with. Hence either Van or TO. The wife is successful graphic designer (BA and MA and gaggin' to get me to TO for ages obviously). She wants Toronto. (USA is not an option btw-timeline dosent permit it) I have to make this decision, apply with my portfolio and get the house on the market by Jan 2007. Ya, makes for happy-hairy-hectic holidays.

I respect all your opinions and advice.

Please fire me your thoughts. I gotta' make a "snap judgement that is well thought out."

Thx all!

Gerry.

My vote would be for Toronto for all of the reasons mentioned (i.e. wife's interest, cost of living/housing) as well as a more work opportunities for both of you. However...and I realize that I'm a bit late in responding...what about Sheridan?

http://www1.sheridanc.on.ca/programs/0708/?ord=sch#SAAD

BTW, born and raised in Vancouver and have lived in Toronto for about 8 years now...happy to answer questions about either place, though you've probably made your decision by now!

.

.

I'd buy that in a heartbeat.

Does everyone agree with me that Ken should write a book? I've printed his posts and tacked them to my wall... gotta be a sign.

Think about it Ken. I know I'd buy that book, and everytime I heard some kid say they wanted to be an animator or an artist, I'd let them borrow it.

Follow @chaostoon on Twitter!

Everyone is freelance!

Hello.

The state of mind you have to have is that YOU ARE FREELANCE!

Especially if you aleady have a job- you have to keep that state of mind. No One works for a company for 20 years any more. The industry changes so much so quickly if have to keep that "freelance" attitude.

Thanks.

Step 1: Obtain a Degree

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Step 3: Maintain Proficiency in the Technology

And then u will be on right track to become a successful animator.

Best of luck:)

I agree with everything besides step one. You don't necessary need a degree to be an animator, at the end of the day; producers are going to be way more interested in your portfolio/demo reel then what college you went to...

There are plenty of people at my studio who have been there for ten years or more, so it does happen!

Hey Ken, you definitally seem like you know a lot about how to get into animation, and what to do once your there, so i was wondering if you could answer some of my questions. I would like to know, what colleges do you think would be best for starting in animation, and what kind of computer is best for creating animation? Thanks so much if you, or anyone else here, could answer my questions.

I agree with Ken here. Really, you should look at what you need to know as an individual. Some will say you don't need to have drawing skills for 3D but really , you do. Even the straightest 3D animator I know , who never had a single drawing lesson , could draw. In fact , most non 2D full 3D animators draw all over their books just trying to work out expressions. It's just part of the process unless you are someone who does nothing but mocap. Myself I am learning all kinds of 3D because I don't really need to learn to draw ( I have skills there ) . If you need both I would find a school that does 3D but has included drawing courses. If you already draw just look for a good 3D training course.

Now I recommend that along with animating ( if thats all you want to do and not lighting or whatever ) you learn rigging. Why ? Because you greatest frustration will be working with characters that other people rigged. Often people who don't understand animating. Do you want to have to keep running to a TD to get them to rerig for you ? No, you need to know this so you aren't limited to other peoples limits.

A person I know ( an experienced 2D animator who switched to 3D and learned not only modeling but rigging ) was contracted by a giant studio who is doing a 3D feature . They subcontracted this person to animate some sequences. He got their models and discovered the rigging was awful and so without telling them her rerigged the entire model. The difference between his and the giant studio's was like night and day. So much better they wanted to use his version of the rig but refused to pay him for rigging so they can't.

Now on computers, I am a total mac girl but they are more expensive with less options. Graphics cards are not as cheap for G5s (in fact they are twice the cost so upgrading as new things come out will be more costly down the road) . Top of the line cards for PC are like 150, for mac 400 and up so , despite being a macie , I am recommending a PC . The biggest name of course is Dell and I have used a lot of those but in the PC world things change a lot . They seem consistant quality and reasonably priced but you should really hang around the 3D forums or ask really experienced 3D animators. The great thing about 3D animators is most of them will think nothing at all of writing out what they think the latest great affordable PC system for 3D is (and thats what you want, the latest because again things change fast ) . They are full of tricks like fast inexpensive raid arrays .

I'm in high-school now, but I'm moving to an animation college soon. The school asks for a portfolio consisting of ten works by me. I intend to do some paintings, some life drawings, animal drawings, cartoon drawings and some portraits as well... But I wonder what exactly the shool expects to see from my works so I can prepare my portfolio better. Any experience in this kinda stuff? :confused:

::: Quick, babe! Gimme my clothes, he's comin' back! :::

I'm in high-school now, but I'm moving to an animation college soon. The school asks for a portfolio consisting of ten works by me. I intend to do some paintings, some life drawings, animal drawings, cartoon drawings and some portraits as well... But I wonder what exactly the shool expects to see from my works so I can prepare my portfolio better. Any experience in this kinda stuff? :confused:

Just show your best stuff.
Try to show some developed skills in a few things, to show that you've put some study into your work and are not just applying on a lark.
A school-admissions portfolio is not the same as a job-seeking portfolio, so you do not have to get all worked up over the content.
The idea with the thing is to show the school that you will not waste your time and theirs in taking on instruction.
95% of the schools out there really just have the portfolio as a token formality anyway--if you have the money for the tutition and fullfill their entry requirments the contents of your portfolio are really just secondary and minor.

Oh, and if you are unsure about what to put in, call them up and ASK THEM if they want to see anything specific. Don't second-guess.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Here's some mo' nuggets.........

Corrections.

A fact of freelance life that we all do this work for paying ( we hope) clients and the work has to meet their needs or its no good.
Part of that process is one of consultation and corrections, but how does that work?

If anyone here has ever done freelance work for someone fussy, they probably know the feelinsg of doing some art, showing it to the client and getting the feedback, and making changes to the art as required.
And do this over and over.

And over.

And if you were young and clueless......over and over some more.

If you are of the mind that the work..........your work is sacrosanct, stop now. Do not proceed into the biz any further because........well, without accepting critiques or corrections you have no future in the biz.
That does not mean you should be a doormat either.

Corrections/revisions are a fact of life, but they are also one that is terribly and easily abused by unscrupulous folks upon newcomer and ignorant talent.
Every job is different and a rigid apporach is seldom the best one to take, but having a idea of this is useful.......and will keep your sanity.

See there's a sobering way to look at corrections and thew work itself: in that for every peice of piecemeal work that you do there's a price that work has.
If you do a job for $1000 with a week deadline, it seems fairly decent pay as far as pay goes.
But if you get a correction that takes you an additional week, then you've only made $500 per week, and done the job twice. The second week could have been spent making a second $1000, but you spent it on the first job.
Everytime you do a correction, it divides the price per piece of work by the number of times you've altered it.
Corrections are considered to be part of the price of the intial job, and a accepted part of said job. The aim is to please the client, and that can only be done by having their feedback--so there's really no way around it.

The USUAL guideline for a job is about 1 or 2 rounds of corrections, and then the client would need to pay for any changes after that. this is the kind of thing you need to know BEFORE you start the job.

On some animation gigs, what looks like a attractive footage rate, can end up being dismal or barely-subsistence wages because you'll do a lot of footage in a week, and then spend a month fixing it, while trying to get additional scenes done. This is why crusty sorts like myself are so strident about the demands of the biz, because absolute confidence in one's abilities is essential to making a liveable wage, if not a successful go at a animation career.

Now, you need to have your head on your shoulders on the job to be wary of this, and those in their first jobs are prone to be taken advantage of.
At the SAME TIME you do not want to be so anal about this kind of thing that you raise needless concerns about corrections--you need to have a mature, open-minded view of this.

Sometimes corrections are called for via a thrid party, someone further down the pipeline and the party directing you said changes is just the messenger.
Sometimes the changes are warranted by evolutions in the product or story itself--designs might be altered, scripts re-written. Ideas may be re-thought.

Sometimes changes are due to incompetency or just plain ol' indecision--and this can be chillingly common.
The worst phrase that could come out of a client's or directors mouth is:" just keep working on it and I'll let you know when I see something I like".

The sad thing is that not a lot of people have real skills in articulating themselves well---and unfortunately more than a few of those people can be the ones that hire us.

In that case, gently put down your pencil and consult with the client. This is when YOUR time becomes valuable and the client needs to arrive at a choice or..........or you simply wait.
Let's face it..........some people like to play others--its a form of control and there's those kinds of loathsome dipshits out there. Sure they sign our cheques, but there's no reason to humour that kind of abuse--so don't.
Weigh the request for changes as being either that the work needs it, or that the client just isn't sure about what they want. Help them with suggestions if need be, or do a bit of extra work/effort to offer them a solution on your own.
sometimes the job calls for YOU to take control of an idea and then offer it to the client as a solution.
More often then not, they usually are delighted that an obstacle as been overcome--and you look good in the process.

Now, in my career, I've done multiple rounds of corrections--the most being fixing a job 11 times. Yes, that is abnormal, but that situation was unique as well.
I've done many jobs where no corrections were called for AT ALL, and done jobs where there were 100% corrections. The WHOLE thing had to be re-done.
Some of these jobs were no problem, some even enjoyable.

Some were blood-curdling nightmares.:eek:

But that too, changes. :rolleyes:

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Now, in my career, I've done multiple rounds of corrections--the most being fixing a job 11 times. Yes, that is abnormal, but that situation was unique as well.
I've done many jobs where no corrections were called for AT ALL, and done jobs where there were 100% corrections. The WHOLE thing had to be re-done.
Some of these jobs were no problem, some even enjoyable.

Some were blood-curdling nightmares.:eek:

But that too, changes. :rolleyes:

Oh god, that is just so unfair. I like to work for clients in person, not long distance , but this is so I can reach across the table if they do that kind of thing. A good way to start is to set your limits. That means when you take a freelance job there are limits to corrections. No client can change their mind on dialogue or shots (unless it is works within the existing scene ) without paying . For a commercial I take no less than $250 a foot just for rough animation and additions and corrections are at the same rate unless I screw up something royally, then its totally my cost (haven't had that happen yet but you never know) . When I was doing freelance I took their deadlines seriously and made them take mine seriously. Most freelancers have jobs lined up so one bad client can wreck your schedule.

There are good add execs and there are bad ad execs. I had one ad agency where the exec wrote four pages of gobbltygoop describing a characters emotional subtext for one 2 second scene out of a 30 second commercial. We did three commercials in a row for this company and the first two came in underbudget and ahead of time and they loved them ,they promised a large bonus if we finished early but since there was nothing in writing ..... but during this time , the head of the studio I was working for had developed bad blood between himself and the ad agency rep ( if you see Howard Sterns Private Parts the movie , this exec was exactly like the character Pigvomit ) . The owners wife was doing the accounting and this exec had been verbally abusive to her so my boss let fly at him one day on the cel phone over that. Great, so after that they took away the storyboarding from him (as punishment ) on the last one and had a live action board artist do it who, never realized that the commercial was only 30 seconds long.

They spent weeks to come up with boards that were so amateur anyone else could have done them in a half an hour. Unfortunately because of this they had wasted most of our production time and I had like a week to do 30 seconds . They were awful and simplistic boards (the commercial was sexist and stupid as well ) and impossible to work with and the actions required were longer than the scenes were cut. Somehow I got everything in and we finished. Everyone who saw it loved the animation and eventually I will put the original up on my site. When the ad exec saw what they had done they decided they wanted wanted to lose a cut all together and make another scene ( they wanted to hold back paying me for the 2 second scene as they had not realized it would be that short (darn I was only going to get paid for 28 seconds ) but the studio owner paid me anyway because he knew they were so wrong and told them so . Problem was, I was off to do a feature and I told them they had two weeks to get me the new boards or to go to someone else to do the corrections. Now remember, this was a 2 second scene, in the meeting I told them at minimum, all they were asking for could not be put in that shot , it was like 5 seconds worth . They nodded like zombies and after 2 weeks the window was closed and I went off to work on a feature for a year.

Months later I saw the commercial and just shook my head . Whoever the poor person was they got to do it had to animate 5 seconds on to an additional scene meaning 12 seconds to try and get their dumb idea to fit ( nightmare avoided ) and so other scenes had to go. It was soooo bad and they were unable to match the drawing style and it was terribly stiff ( I don't blame the animator as I'm sure they had no time at all to do it given the ad agency unbelievably wasteful thumbsucking ). It was a mess and ran for an incredibly short time but I'm sure viewers complained as it really was a tasteless idea . That in a nutshell is freelance commercial animation.

Darleister--
That's a good illustration of the kinds of sabotage that can happen in the animation biz.
I've seen the same kind of thing, with ignorant clients all of a sudden "realizing" they can have input into something and then start requesting all kinds of stuff be inserted just because they have "creative input".

There's a reason why folks like us are trained to not only do the work, but to understand what the work needs. 2 seconds is 48 frames, or 3 feet of film--roughly 24 frames on 2's. Its enough time for a gesture, maybe an expression to read.... but very little else.
What trips up the ignorant is that they see that it takes a potential maximum of 48 drawings ( if on 1's) and they think: "hey, its fine! There's lots of room for our idea in those drawings!" or they just don't have an understanding of timing. It takes about 5 seconds to read this very sentence and process it mentally--if you say the sentence out loud.

Its not a lot of time, and understanding that requires both training and practise.

What you mentioned about sloppy 'boards is frighteningly common. 'Boarding is a tough, tough job that not everyone can do.
It took me a few years to realize why not everyone jumps on 'boards because the money is usually quite nice. I take for granted all the background info one needs in their heads to do this job at times.

And that 11 correction job.......it wasn't so bad. I was inbetweening a scene for a animation "mentor" of mine early on in my career and the gent was giving me some tough-love on the work. I had a lot of sloppy habits accquired early on and having to go back over this scene over and over again was not only frustrating, but it instilled in me a discipline that remains ( mostly :rolleyes: ) to this day. No work or act is so sacrosanct that it cannot benefit from a little more practise.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

And that 11 correction job.......it wasn't so bad. I was inbetweening a scene for a animation "mentor" of mine early on in my career and the gent was giving me some tough-love on the work. I had a lot of sloppy habits accquired early on and having to go back over this scene over and over again was not only frustrating, but it instilled in me a discipline that remains ( mostly :rolleyes: ) to this day. No work or act is so sacrosanct that it cannot benefit from a little more practise.

Oh I agree Ken, no work is sacrosanct ..that is if you have time. I'm glad it was a good learning experience for you though. I find that by version 5 my animation begins to suffer and my interest wanes :) What always drove me crazy was they take six months at the ad agency to think up these things and give just a few weeks to execute them. In London where the all the 2D commercials for Europe were made 2 months was not unusual and the quality of that shows . The execution was often brilliant. The agencies here don't really care about the commercial though because how they make their money is different. For the newbies out there the ad agencies make their money not through creating the commercial but through booking the air time. As I remember they make like ?% off every station run booking. It actually means they are pressured to produce it just to make their money. "Tough Love " animators are just another endurance contest on top. When you are young this is where you learn though and everything is good experience.

my god..
what a fascinating thread.

is this something like that twilight zone episode, when the "normal" people slip through the crack of time, and see how time and reality is "REALLY" built?

Ken, this is such a marvelously explain "fact of life" about the professional world.

well done!

P.

my god..
what a fascinating thread.

is this something like that twilight zone episode, when the "normal" people slip through the crack of time, and see how time and reality is "REALLY" built?

Ken, this is such a marvelously explain "fact of life" about the professional world.

well done!

P.

Yes, my son, and I am your host, Rod Serling.
Next week, we journey to the jungle pyramids of Central America, and learn the bizarre link between a mysterious crystal skull, William Shatner's toupee and cartoons.......

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Niche Talent--

This is a bit more of a rant than a the usual expose on the animation biz, but its something that still applies to this thread and topic, so forgive me and here we go....

Yea, niche talent.
What the heck is that?
My definition of a niche talent is one that is skilled in working in one or two stysles or genres to the exclusion of other styles or genres.
Example someone that can draw Spongebob like nobody's business, but cannot do Jack Kirby comicbook characters to save their life.

In the animation biz, there's a surprising number of niche talents. I know, I've worked with many, and taught many as well.

I view niche talent as ...well, as a problem, because my observations of these folks show me that they can do that one thing very well, but are often terrified--or at least reluctant to work in/at those areas they are weak. Some that can do cute& cuddly characters will often have trouble with action advneture stuff, and vice versa.
These folks are very comfortable inside their genres, but when the job changes to the others stuff..........well...........it can be daunting.
More than not, I've seen such talents try to pass off their skills in their reluctant genres, and do so with oft-mixed results.
Egos can blind some of these folks into stepping tinot work that they clearly do not have the chops to tackle-at least not without prior exposure or preparation.

Now, this is not a condemnation of such talents................no, its just an observation.
Its a fact of life in this industry that talent doesn't always have broad exposure and specialization tends to creep in. So much emotion and physical energy is expended in just getting one's skills to a high level that having a broad-based "visual vocabulary" might not be attainable for some.

I think, at some point, there comes a time when one is forced to consider their path in this: do they specialize in a narrower range, or do they just seek competency in a broader range?

In my own case, I chose the latter.
Oh, it wasn't easy, and I'm never happy with my work to any great degree, but its a choice that;s kep food on my table for many years.
I was a comic book nut when I started in this biz...but most of the work I was doing was cute & cuddly stuff ( old-timers call it Funny Animals) so I was a fish out of water.
Now, in doing all that c&c stuff, I was exposed to lots of different styles, but i always felt my action adventure stuff suffered. And I think, to a degree it did.

To be candid, I never thought I truly grasped the c&c stuff, but I can do it to the needs of my clients and studios. The comicbook stuff I can do to at least convince the viewer that I have some apprecation for the medium.
When I started out, the c&c stuff was wretched.....oh, it really was. But I think, having done it for so long that it has brought me something to carry over to the comic stuff--that being a sense of design that straight bland line work and hatching/crosshatching doesn't really have.
I think one of the things that really set me on the path I'm on is the idea that I saw myself as a cartoonist, rather than a animator or comicbook artist--a broader title than either specialty entails.

There's a polarity going on though--a need, or deep nigh-unconscious desire to grasp harder the principles of both and excell as them all. Its often mitigated by the needs of the deadline at hand and all those skills I'm still learning--even after 21 years in the biz.
Now, some critics might just say I've fielded a rationalization to being a hack. I don't think so--as in my own career, this mindset has paid my bills. I've found it to be survivable--which is the driving thought in my choice. I may not be extremely accomplished in any specific medium or genre, but I can at least demonstrate competency--to the satisfaction of those clients I mentioned before. In navigating a career, that is a practical tact--rather than seeking that lofty stardom that some few ever really attain.

Here's my advice/POV on this.

Having hired/fired and taught people in the biz I can say that showing range is probably a healthy thing. Range meaning being able to demonstrate skills in a bunch of different things.
I can tell you without a doubt that perspective is one of the most terrifying drawing challenges students and newcomers face--and its almost a universal weakness these days.
I'm not talking about just being able to render basic forms in 1/2/3/4 etc flat and/or curvelinear perspective, I'm talking about being able to render advanced archetectural forms and structures in percpective. A old, decrepit, haunted house with turret corners and Victorian fiigree and detail on it, in a angled shot. Stuff that takes a lot of thinking and work to render.
And the kind of thing that scares the pee out of most talent.
Anime is rapidly become one of the biggest style crutches in student work these days, and the bane of many a instructors ( and recruiters) existence.
Look, its just a style..........one of many, many styles. Its why a lot of press gets made about drawing from life because classic drawing techniques all start with the human figure and the observational and rendering methods that have been proven for hundreds of years now.
If all your interests are entrenched in something like anime..........well, broaden those horizons a bit.

Do not tackle this kind of thing half-assed, or half-heartedly............and certainly NOT because Ken Davis told you to do it..........use the time you have to explore FOR YOURSELF.
Draw outside your box. Draw stuff you HATE, and do that because it'll force you to bring something to it--to find SOMETHING in that imagery that you DO like.
Draw stuff that terrifies you. Right now, dark lustrous hair is driving me fug-buckers--been trying to nail down the highlights and forms on this for years, and now that I have the time--I'm spelunking into my talent range. I'm looking at how to master the feathering of lines in ink---how to hatch and cross hatch in ink. Its a nut-buster, and frustrating as hell. My results, thus far.........pffft, only about 50% happy with it. It still eludes me.

But here's the key: I'm not afraid.
The solutions will come, somewhere, somehow.......in time.
More in part two:

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Part two: Niche Talent-again and.........mojo!!!

A story, if you will....

Once upon a time, when I used to own a studio, we had a job come in to storyboard for the sequel to Ferngully.
The designs for this were really nice, feature-quality for a DtV feature, and a few of the senior talents in the studio took on the work.

Now, at this time, my skills were still kinda rough, but I tackled it with the same focus i apply in any other job.
We did the work, got the cheques and waited for the revisions.
They came back.............my partner's have only a couple of changes, but mine................totally rejected out of hand.
To put in bluntly, the work I had done sucked shit.
It had to be re-done.........and the source client requested that someone else tackle it.
Of course I was crest-fallen, but more than that, I was SCARED.

See, I had been paid for this work. There was no-one else in-studio who could do these fixes--everyone had their own revisions or other jobs to manage.
I had to do this fixes on my own--and clearly this was over my head.

I had no choice in the matter---it was now sink or swim.

So, what I did was this:
I got some feedback on the tepid shot selection I had from my partner, and was told to just look at the model pack to try to put some life into the characters.
So I took the entire pack i had, and COVERED my desk with it. I taped drawing to the walls and window beside me, and jury-rigged my mechanical drafting arm to stand up so I could tape designs to that--a kind of Heads-up display.
I had a small open space in front of me where I could put a clean-sheet down and I sat there.

I sat there and stared at those model designs for the whole day.
My brain was going: there MUST be some pattern, some principle governing these images....something I'm not capitlizing on. Something I'm missing.
I was scared shitless--to tell the truth. My artistic inadequacies staring me in the face. The designs they had were soooooooo good, but my skills were so..................bleh.

I'd took some of the drawings and put a sheet over top them, traced off the images......trying to see if there was pattern to the strokes...

I bugged out for home and slept on it and came back early the next day.

A something clicked. A pattern emerged, a cadence to the way the lines were placed, the forms structured--and inkling struck me.
About 1/2-3/4s of the way thru that second day I started my revisions--a shot in the dark.
I got the stuff done on the third day and we sent it down--and I held my breathe.

A couple days later we got word: they thanked us for the job and said it was fine. They asked who we got to replace me.
The client could believed their ears when we told them that I had re-done the job myself. That I sucked it up and busted ass and delivered on something I was clearly NOT able to do beforehand.

This job became a sort of rite of pasage for me, as I never looked back. The ideas I grapsed at that moment stuck with me and formed part of the current skills plateau I work with today.

The moral of the story is that when I first tackled this job, I did not have the stuff.........my "mojo" was missing. Being forced in a incredibly dire and painful situation to fix the job, and do it to their standards I had to find AND muster said mojo--and in doing so, ADDING to that limited skill set.
This is the crux, because fear is what holds niche talents in place. If no-one notices that all they can draw is anime, or Spongebob, or 70's Don Martin MAD comics characters, or whatever ONE or two things they are good at drawing--then they will be safe.
The thing is, sooner or later they will be found out and that notion of safety will pop like a soap bubble.

I want to expand a bit on the suggestion of drawing what scares you a bit more, and I'm going to step out onto a controversial limb here.
I'm going to make a suggestion that I have done quietly before, but I'm going to do it openly here. Its not without qualms because its a subject matter that really polarizes people.
One of the things I have suggested to people to draw is porn. Specifically Erotica.
Now, before eyeballs and cerebellums explode--think about the reasonings in this.
One: you never have to show this work to anyone (and NO-ONE has to know).........just as you do with ANY kind of material in your sketchbooks. This kind of stuff is soley for your "education as an artist.
Two: Erotica is tough to do. Its incredibly easy to do material that is crude, but to do something that its both provocative ( re: sensual) AND tasteful is tough. People have a ingrained interest in sex to begin with, so its a natural subject of attention. This is NOT about a exercise in getting your jollies, it about expanding your skills into arenas most artists never really venture into.
Three: because its a subject of keen interest, the level of focus applied would tend to be greater--if only to "get it right" and have it meet your tastes. It will focus your drawing on human forms ( if you deviate from that , I just.........do...........not......wanna.........know. Ever.) and in situations that will often require more than one form.
You, in theory, should learn more and have a greater vested interest in the results.
Again, you need not EVER show this work to ANYONE.

And if erotica simply isn't you bag, try........horror, for example. Drawing corpses or similar distasteful stuff can be of similar value.
Again, you need not display or divulge that you do this--and you need not ever even attempt it if the idea offends you.

The whole point is to step outside that box from time to time and try something different--in the hope you can take something back from it. Its meant to expand your repetoire and visual vocabulary.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Actually, I do a kind of 60s softcore version of this. The first thing I'm animating in AE is a woman walking. Not just a typical walk cycle-- she's in a tight black skirt, walking through a jungle. I went for the 50s blond-- she kind of reminds me of Vera Miles. It's not quite there yet, but I'm getting confident. I want to look at that walk and get the ungawa factor I get from scenes in certain Russ Meyer movies. Next, I'll try a latina. Eventually, there might be a tryst. Lipstick lesbians are even a guilty pleasure of a lot of straight women I know. Director Andrew Blake does some nice work in this genre.

Right now, I'm trying the tentacle brain from my site. The tentacles will writhe, the eyeball roll, and the brain breathe. If I should become aroused by this, I'll seek help.

Anything consensual that goes on between writhing tentacles and breathy brains is entirely up to them.

But if they is under-age, make sure they get it in writing.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

For Archie--

I thought about this all afternoon, and .......you are right in one respect about me.
I do not want people to get into the animation industry.

There, I said it.........openly admitted it.

I think anyone trying is insane to do so.

I honestly think that anyone seeking to get into Animation as a career needs to think long and hard about it before attempting it.
In the 10 years I've been teaching animation subjects, I've sen a LOT of "posers"--people that wanted to give animation "a try".
I'm fairly sure that most, if not all those people never got in, or lasted very long in the biz--and not because of my doing. But because they just wanted to try it, and having done so gotm a glimpse of what its really like on the inside.

Not that the glamour was rubbed off and the fun exposed as a lie, but that the biz is demanding and ruthless in some very specific ways. Usually demanding in ways these people were not comfortable with.
I know this because I seldom see or hear of them again.

I'm not espousing a downer viewpoint to dissuade anyone so I can get more work--I have plenty, thank you. I'm not being "negative" because I feel threatened either. I genuinely want to see only the best people make it in because they raise the bar for everyone.

Let's face it, animation is a "sexy" occupation--mostly because people do not know what we really do. Its in the public eye through the end-product, which entertains people so much the assumption is that it MUST be fun to do.
It is, but there's tears mixed in too.

The tools out there today, make the accomplishment of animation far easier than its ever been, but it does NOTHING to increase the skills in these newcomers. Take a look at the oft-bad CGI in your local tv commericals to get an idea of this trend--I'd bet there's some real dogs.
Appeal is something I (now) rarely see in newcomers work--and its an attribute that was of critical importance when I started. Hell, its still vital--but its glossed over by voices say that animation is easy--anyone can do it.
Hey, anyone can hit a tennis ball with a racket, but how many people make it to compete in Wimbledon? That's my point here.

Honestly, I just cannot tell people to bugger off and leave the pro's alone to do the stuff, because that isn't healthly. New blood is always needed, but the sooner those new talents are tempered, the easier their jobs will be.......at least in my opinion.

Hey, there's threads in other forums ( and even on other sites too, natch!)talking about the 'biz, the working culture in it and people experiences--and doing so right now. You will find some very common themes in those other threads.
My experiences are not 100% common, but they are my experiences and I've shared a lot of similar things with others--a LOT of just I can relate to. Taking just my words as the sole view isn't doing the overall any justice.

And yes, I was insane to get into the animation biz. Lookee! Its time for my needle!!

( maybe they'll give me the shocks again....wheee!)

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

interesting threads, Ken. It's very refreshing for people like yourself, with your experience, to honestly tell the world their thoughts and opinions.

I myself have been working as a 2D animator steadily now for a little over a year and a half, and in that time have gotten to experience the joys and the pains of animating for shows, commercials, and feature. I board, design characters/layouts, and animate. I actually DO love animation, being an animator. I had ALWAYS known i wanted to be an animator, since I was 8 years old. It is quite honestly a drug.

For all those reading this awesome animation thread, it can definitely be everything that has been said about it. It is like no other job, the hours can be insane, it can be lonely, dark, depressing, maddening and futile. --YET, it can also be some of the best, most shining moments of your life. Creating a living thing....it's almost indescribable.

It's my opinion that to really succeed, you must be of a different breed of people. Talent goes a long way, but DRIVE goes further. I yearned and craved and yelled and worked and slaved and sacrificed, sacrificed like hell to get to where I am today. It cost me dearly in many ways, but i wanted to animate more. Those who cannot sacrifice will probably never animate, or at least never do anything worth talking about.

I hated my job this week, and I was WAY into overtime, but getting home at 5AM in the morning i remembered who I am, what I am, and the insane amount of animation i had just created. That living work I had just created.
And I went to bed satisfied.

Thanks Ken! :D I live in Viet Nam, and the school is in Singapore - They don't take many international students each year, so it's really competitive to get accepted! It is not the same to pursue animation here in my country - Animation is not yet a business, and no school specializes in it, which is why I have to travel all the way to Singapore... :( I guess it is twice as hard for me to succeed in the business, don't you think? Cuz few Vietnamese have made their name in animation (at least none that I know of)... Anyone ever heard of one? :confused:

::: Quick, babe! Gimme my clothes, he's comin' back! :::

That just means we're due! Lead the way! =)

I am an animator--have done that. I'm a cartoonist, storyboard artist, comicbook artist, illustrator, designer, caricaturist.........done a LOT of jobs.
My experience is in the 2D arena, and I have contributed to 3D projects.
I also have taught, until recently, this stuff to adult students.

Making a ton of money in any of these fields is mythical, but possible IF you go about doing the right things. There's a lot of what Oprah Winfrey talks about regarding luck here: the meeting of preparation with opportunity.

MOST people make subsistence wages.....that is averaging around $30K-$40K a year. Some will report more, few a bit less. Some with jobs holding more responsibility can take home up to and over $100k a year--but that's not going to happen overnight.
Bear in mind that ONLY the TOP 10% are making the huge money--$250K or more--and those folks are very talented to boot.
The mega-stars in this biz sacrifice a lot to get where they are, and its a unique sacrifice for everyone that attempts that stature. If you want to hit that kind of goal--that stratus--then you'll find out what that is on your own.

As for being nervous.........nervousness only comes from inadequacy.
The industry doesn't have a lot of room for the inadequate--but schools seem to gloss over this point.
I'm not going to mince words with anyone here--YOU HAVE TO BE GOOD. Standing out, in some respect, is a asset.
There's a enormous number of people in the industry that are niche talents--they are good at one or two things.
That limits their options.
The resources and reference material at hand should preclude niche talents because the wealth of material is SO rich today.
When I started in the industry ( 20 years ago) we had maybe 1-5% of the resources there are now--and yet a self-taught guy like myself (and others) could do it.

If you are nervous, then its a sign to bust your ass so you can rely on your skills. Snip out the bullshit in your head and focus on what the industry demands of you--if that's your goal. The thinking that an image is "good enough" to you might not be the paradigm you want to aim for. The idea is not to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your classmates, but with INDUSTRY work--with your instructors ( if they are any good).
The idea is to bring something better or different with you--not just rehash the same old tired shit everyone has seen before.
I've seen enough ogres, race-cars, mecha, elf princesses and anime crap to choke whole herds of horses--and I stopped paying attention to a lot of it years ago. The ones that took a different spin on that stuff, that showed me something with some artistic maturity , or AT LEAST SOME THOUGHT BEHIND IT, caught my eye. Those folks usually caught the industry's eye as well.

This means more work for you though:
This might mean one more hour (or hours) spent on a image, or a piece of animation, or working on some software.
It means sticking your nose in different magazines than your classmates might be reading, in looking at a movie a bit differently than others around you.
It might mean seeking out key people with answers to your questions, rather than just accepting what a book tells you.
It means not just asking global questions ( like "how do I draw?") but doing the scutwork so all you need to ask is the very specific questions that solve your immediate dilemma ( like:"what direction should hatching lay on a figure to convey a graduated shadow? How do you get those feathered hatching lines on a drawing?" etc.)
It means perserverance and dedication.

Get back to the basics--master them undeniably. Do not BS yourself. If you think something might be an asset, if your gut tells you that you might need painting , drawing, sculpting, writing etc, then take them. Fear of failing those tasks is what keeps people from tackling them, and that is usually what sinks their prospects in the industry.
Do not expect quick results in shorts amount of time-DO expect to spend years honing your abilities. Start NOW.

Oh, yea, you'll get the odd person that will declare that so-and so doesn't draw but they are in the biz.......be wary of that. The tools maybe different, but ARTISTIC SKILLS are the cachet on this biz--do not shirk either.
Short-cuts are rare--rapid rises equally so--expect a LONG time in the trenches slogging and sweating out shitty jobs and "meaningless" work.
That's the same in any business.

I'm also going to say this: not everyone is cut out for this. In EVERY class I have taught for the past 10 years the average has been that 10% of each graduating class have a future in the biz. That's 1 in 10. Thems is realistic numbers because I have seen those numbers make it.
Want to know the number one reason why people do not make it in the biz?
At some point they see just how mich stuff they don't know versus how much they need to know and they GIVE UP. Giving up GUARANTEES you will never make it--the rest have it at 50/50.

But once you make it--if you REALLY bust your ass.....its a good career to have. You'll do things that people will be in awe of, and that's because they will not understand WHAT you do. At higher levels on the job, you'll be paid as much for your intuition as for your skills and there's a pronounced satisfaction/validation that comes from being rewarded that way.
Some folks can claim some fame or notoriety, though most toil in obscurity, but the creations we work on are anything but obscure.

Not a lot of us working in the biz will say this, but its pretty plain that what we do makes a big difference in people's lives.

There's yer carrot AND yer stick in one post.

I'm sorry, i must protest at this. Yes as true as it is i just get the impression that you dislike your job. You speak as if animation is a chore and from what you have written i am just given the impression that you dont like your job. You seem to point out what is bad within the industry rather then showing a positive view on it. Yes we all appreciate that animation is hard and a very hard to get in to as a career but you could of at least said things like "As much as i love animation i...." or "Animation is fantastic but...." If you speak in the manner in which you have done i believe it will put younger people off from going in to the industry.

If they get put off by that then they probably are saving time and energy by quitting now. One of his whole overall points seems to be the mental and creative endurance necessary.

Personally I like being prepared, and for every 'Ken' telling you what's really up, and how many traps and giant spiked wrecking balls there are on the path, there are 10 to 20 people reinforcing the positive aspects. It seems like a good balance to me if they're more subtle and he's more aggressive. Has to make up lost ground so that positive and negative get an equal share :D

If they get put off by that then they probably are saving time and energy by quitting now.

Shoot, I was going to say that. :p

Yeah, I think there are more than enough rose tinted view of the animation industry to off set Ken's view. And Ken's view isn't even a negitive view point. It's just honest.

I've been on these boards for over 6 years now, I was Luau Lizard back then. I had a rosey view of the animation industry back then, when I wasn't in it. Now that I'm in the industry, it's still a rosey view, but I see the thorns now too.

Aloha,
the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

I'm sorry, i must protest at this. Yes as true as it is i just get the impression that you dislike your job. You speak as if animation is a chore and from what you have written i am just given the impression that you dont like your job. You seem to point out what is bad within the industry rather then showing a positive view on it. Yes we all appreciate that animation is hard and a very hard to get in to as a career but you could of at least said things like "As much as i love animation i...." or "Animation is fantastic but...." If you speak in the manner in which you have done i believe it will put younger people off from going in to the industry.

Feel free to protest, Archie.

You might want to re-read all that I've written in this thread and all that's been contributed by others.
I will not BS you, or anyone, with a Pollyanna view of the animation industry, as there's PLENTY of positive spins on the biz coming from all directions.
With all the schools making it seems like anyone can do animation--there's plenty of lures into the biz.

No-one's come out and asked me if I LIKE what I do in the industry, and to that I'd answer that I do, and I don't. I DO NOT love animation--I NEVER have. Its a job that I do, a craft that I work in--and I've worked in many aspects of cartooning.
The job has its good days and its bad days and I won't couch words on that.
There's a lot of pie-in-the-sky attitudes on newcomers that tend to change once they are in the biz for a while--that is not my doing, its my experience ( and theirs).
Does saying that discount what I've written?

As for putting people off the biz, cut me some slack, willya.
I've said it in this thread ( or maybe another) that if what I've written here frightens ANYONE off then they are probably not going to enjoy working in this industry in the first place. Its the first, SMALLEST speed bump in a long line of speed bumps, and if it trips them up then its not for them.
How plainly does that need to be said?
If someone wants to tackle this adventure, then more power to them.
I've done this for over 20 years--so I've seen a LOT--not all, but a lot.

I've had successes and failures in the biz, and good times and frightful times too. Consider what I've written to be the benefits of having endured some painful times--SO THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE TO. How's that for a positive spin?:rolleyes:

Besides, Archie, I figure that if someone can handle the down-side of something then the up-side doesn't need to be mentioned, right?

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Just for paritys sake, and to balance Ken's (equally valid) posts, I was spotted by DW whilst still at Uni, and have been here for 2 1/2 years. I love what I do, even though it terrifies me daily. The moments when you realise you've created performance out of nothing are pretty amazing, even when a shot can kick your arse, (as mine is doing to me right now...)

It's all good!

I'm sorry, i must protest at this. Yes as true as it is i just get the impression that you dislike your job. You speak as if animation is a chore and from what you have written i am just given the impression that you dont like your job. You seem to point out what is bad within the industry rather then showing a positive view on it. Yes we all appreciate that animation is hard and a very hard to get in to as a career but you could of at least said things like "As much as i love animation i...." or "Animation is fantastic but...." If you speak in the manner in which you have done i believe it will put younger people off from going in to the industry.

Look, I will jump in and defend Ken here because he is telling the truth. Whether you are 3D or 2D there has been too much cheerleading going on ands not only is that deceptive but hurting people. Yes, you should consider that most of the commericial industry truly sucks and that clients/agencies are often stupid, studio owners often are using your youth to get free hours out of you because they know you will contribute because you just love being here . 2D is pretty much out and 3D faces heavy offshore economics in places like India. If , after you hear all the downside you still want in then consider yourself an animator but not if you blissfully ignore the truth. Creating movement doesn't mean you will have a life either. A real animator is often never satisfied with his work either because in the end to do it properly it takes more time and energy than you are ever given so consider that as well. Are you prepare to compromise ? Because if you aren't you are in for a lot of suffering , trust me. Who cares if it turns kids off going into it, good ! If thats all it takes than they wont have the guts to survive what it really takes.

To me, both sides of the argument have persuasiveness. Youthful enthusiasm lacks the insight and experience of those who, with the benefit of hindsight, are able to tell that the animation business can be torment. However, there are a million and one ways in this world to be unhappy with one's job and the experiences in the field are different for everyone. I'm not really pleased with the (animation-unrelated) job I'm doing at the moment to get by. So yes, there's some job-unhappiness in my life, I don't need animation for that.
However, that doesn't stop me from drawing, and there's no telling whether it will ever get me anywhere. There's always a better artist somewhere out there and there's no job in animation I could do somebody else couldn't do better. I'm a severe realist when it comes to that.
The fact of the matter is, however, that I can sit down and create something which, even if it doesn't mean anything to anyone else, means something to me - and it satisfies me.

True, true. My philosophy at the moment is to give honing animation-related skills the energy I can spare it, but not trying to run in brick walls. I know the animation business is a bitch, partly from experience (-like when I had that one job on a feature in the bag and the whole production got cancelled a few weeks later-) and partly from tales like Ken's, and I don't want to constantly bump my head. Guys like Jhonen Vasquez did indie comics before selling stuff like Invader Zim to Nickelodeon - I'm willing to wait for a lucky break like that and do what I can to tip the scales in my favour by getting better. Mind you, I don't believe in "luck" or "fate" as such - it's about working on oneself and manipulating outside influences as best as possible to my mind.

It would have been Josephine Baker's 100th birthday last week and she said something about dreams which I think is spot on:

"We can make all our dreams come true, but only when we decide to awaken from them."

One of the smartest. safest routes to take in this biz is to diversify your skills.
If you want to become a animator, seek to become a cartoonist along the way, so if animation doesn't work out you can still make potential inroads in related fields. You can ( and imo, should be able to) do comics, strips, illustration, concept work etc.
Likewise, if you intern as a production assistant, you can get into being a producer, or even a studio ower. The more you can do, the more options you have.

What trips some people up is that these kinds of detours, or ouright deviations, are not what they see for themselves, so they close themselves off from taking those paths. Get your work, in whatever form it is, out into the public eye. Create stuff so they can see what you can do--it doesn't have to be your most personal stuff.

I started out on this journey wanting to be a comicbook artist, fell into animation--did a helluv alot of inbetweening, some animation, then fell into storyboards.
Did storyboards for a good long time, then got caught up in teaching.
Now I'm back to doing 'boards again.
Its not the same as comics, but its close enough, and, imo, the money is better. I never saw myself in animation, but that is where I ended up.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

I like Animation too

Hello I have always had a thing for art and also been involved with drafting and other areas of Animation. I was wanting to know if there are any online college programs that offer classes on Animation? If anyone knows plese let me know ok.

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Hello I have always had a thing for art and also been involved with drafting and other areas of Animation. I was wanting to know if there are any online college programs that offer classes on Animation? If anyone knows plese let me know ok.

Go to www.animationmentor.com They are the best online animation school on the web if not one of the best school period. They focus on 3D animation but are fine with students doing all their assignments in 2D or stop motion or other mediums. Great school, awesome lectures and some of the best animators in the industry as your mentors.

Aloha,
the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

Go to www.animationmentor.com They are the best online animation school on the web if not one of the best school period. They focus on 3D animation but are fine with students doing all their assignments in 2D or stop motion or other mediums. Great school, awesome lectures and some of the best animators in the industry as your mentors.

Aloha,
the Ape

I checked them out but I don't see any 2D animators. All 3D.

I checked them out but I don't see any 2D animators. All 3D.

like I said, they mainly focus on 3D, so all their instructors animate in 3D, but many of them came from a traditional background.

Aloha,
the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

Things to bear in mind about that:

Some mentors are unlisted, and many of those "3D" animators came from traditional projects when traditional was more prolific. My mentor did 8 years of traditional animation; came as a surprise because when you get assigned someone your first instincts are to go to IMDB and see a project breakdown (before their profiles are put up) but as most people know IMDB is an incomplete resource. Hell, Ken Davis has more projects under his belt than should be humanly possibly but I'm not sure he even has a page there.

There are some who are almost exclusively 2D (though I'm sure they could handle 3D) to this very day with the projects they are presently working on. You might wanna try asking the school. Mentors are still assigned by timezone so I don't think you could pick and choose just people with 2D experience the whole way through but odds are most of yours will be formers or hybrids. I've only had one guy who wasn't out of 4. My last one even worked in stop-motion!

I am going to be doing the Animation program at Cal State Fullerton along with Animation Mentor. In fact, there are many students on Animation Mentor who also attend art schools, even SCAD and other big name schools since AM focus is purely the art of Character Animation in any medium the student decides be it 2D, 3D, or Stop Motion.

Software: TVPaint Pro, Harmony Standalone, Storyboard Pro, Maya, Modo, Arnold, V-Ray, Maxwell, NukeX, Hiero, Mari, RealFlow, Avid, Adobe CS6
Hardware: (2) HP Z820 Workstations + 144-core Linux Render Farm + Cintiq 24HD Touch

Hey darliester. I know for a fact that there are some 2d people at AM because I am one of them. I haven't done all of my assignments in 2d but I am capable of producing 2d and 3d animation. Here's my site if you want to have a look: www.jocelyncofer.com

That said I know of a student who has done all of his assignments in 2d. Here is his website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/50512902@N00/
There are some 2d people at AnimationMentor, you just have to look carefully to find us.

"Animation isn't about how well you draw, but how much to believe." -Glen Keane

Hey darliester. I know for a fact that there are some 2d people at AM because I am one of them. I haven't done all of my assignments in 2d but I am capable of producing 2d and 3d animation. Here's my site if you want to have a look: www.jocelyncofer.com

That said I know of a student who has done all of his assignments in 2d. Here is his website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/50512902@N00/
There are some 2d people at AnimationMentor, you just have to look carefully to find us.

Well I was really talking about the mentors themselves but I think it's great you are doing both because it makes 3D easier I think. Ken was talking about diversity and by that I think he meant learning the tool sets. If you look at the Incredibles DVD you will see that how Brad was getting them to correct scenes using a software they created at Pixar so that they could draw over the 3D . The reason that was important was it is more intuitive and less laborious than getting an animator to keep tweaking till that got the dynamics right. You can show them directly . To me the Incredibles was the best of both worlds integrated.

Now it's not saying there aren't 3D animators who can't do that without drawing but just generally the average strictly 3D animator without those skills may struggle more with the abstracts. Many will fall into the mocap trap and make motion more literal and I think thats when either art becomes boring and too much like live. To me it's like having a base in the graphic fundementals so that you can apply unrealistic theory to something that creates realistically. If that makes sense.

Drawing is very important but like you said, it doesn't always mean the 3d guys who can draw aren't as good. There are plenty of animators at the top feature studios who can't draw. Although they are taking drawing classes and trying to learn how to do it.

There are some mentors at AM who can do 2d as well. My previous mentor worked at Dreamworks and animated on all of their 2d films and some of their 3d features as well. I also had a Q&A a couple of weeks ago with a mentor who worked on Mulan as well as Chicken Little.

"Animation isn't about how well you draw, but how much to believe." -Glen Keane

Drawing is very important but like you said, it doesn't always mean the 3d guys who can draw aren't as good. There are plenty of animators at the top feature studios who can't draw. Although they are taking drawing classes and trying to learn how to do it.

There are some mentors at AM who can do 2d as well. My previous mentor worked at Dreamworks and animated on all of their 2d films and some of their 3d features as well. I also had a Q&A a couple of weeks ago with a mentor who worked on Mulan as well as Chicken Little.

Not at all . It's funny because at the beginning 3D animators were trying to force 2Ders to accept a completely different creative process because they learned that way. I know of many 2D animators that just quit trying 3D because of that and so saying there is only one way to animate is too narrow a view.

I find people who push 3d on 2d animators highly annoying as well. Like I said they're both essentially the same. I agree that saying there's only one way to animate is a very narrow view. At AM the mentors constantly tell us that their method isn't the only way to go about animating and may not be the best one for us. They tell us what works for them so that we can experiment and discover our own workflow.

"Animation isn't about how well you draw, but how much to believe." -Glen Keane

I find people who push 3d on 2d animators highly annoying as well. Like I said they're both essentially the same. I agree that saying there's only one way to animate is a very narrow view. At AM the mentors constantly tell us that their method isn't the only way to go about animating and may not be the best one for us. They tell us what works for them so that we can experiment and discover our own workflow.

That Mighty is a good teacher . Your process is just as important as theirs and that is path only experience can teach you. One thing many 3D animators (mostly Maya trained ) have said to me the difference between someone who succeeds and someone who fails is often just the willingness to learn the tool sets properly. To know what the program can do. If you have fun while you do it you will also learn them far faster. I like to make a game of it :)

Want some more advice?

...

Classic drawing skills remain king--and they always will.
Basic, bog-standard stuff like composition, staging, and PERSPECTIVE are LACKING in most students work. Figure drawing is given far too much emphasis before, and occasionally after, students enroll in schools.

Buck that trend, willya.

...

That's all for tonite.

Could anyone recommend some books on "composition, staging and perspective"? Everything I've got now is on character construction/figure drawing.

Recommendations

Here's a selection that span 2D, 3D, film, matte painting and story telling...

"Inspired 3D Short Film Production" - Jeremy Canton, Pepe Valencia
(Art direction, Storyboarding, Layout)

"Setting Up Your Shots" Jeremy Vineyard (composition/storyboard/camera angles, POV)

Ballistic Publishing - Matte Painting (background, midground, foreground, perspective grids)

Disney/Pixar "The Art of ..." books (I have "The Art of Nemo" that covers a little bit of everything. I particularly like the way they achieve space and distance through color.)

Check out the work of Istvan Banyai, "The Other Side" (it's a kids book) is the one I have - a master of perspective. What he achieves with the simplest line and shadow just boggle the mind.

Art history books usually cover the Renaissance and their methods of perspective. I'd highly recommend an Art History course to anyone.

I haven't added anything to this thread for a while now, and I have some time in my day to contribute so.............

Info management.

This is a skill that's found in about 50%-75% of the folks in the biz, and its actually becoming more commonplace because of computer use, yet there's still hiccups.
This is something that pertains more to something like storyboarding and probably less with animation per se, but its still part of that process.

You have a 'board you are doing, a deadline for that and a show pack to work off of.

And the fun begins soon enough.
Seeing that a lot of commercial animation ( for TV, features, Direct-to-Video?DVD etc) involve proprietary stuff, one has to be prepared to be responsible to that material.

That means keeping things on-model, simply because the client wants to see their character or property(as they know it) over and over again.

After all, that is what they are paying you for.

This means that YOU as the talent working on that show have to be able to manage all the design material that comes your way.
Now, on a typical 22 minutes TV show these days, the model pack for THAT individual episode can be several hundred pages in volume.
You might have to keep track of a specific design for something as mundane as a doorknob--especially if its a unusual design--or multiple looks for a character that might change looks several times in a given episode.
Trying to find those images in a ream of 300-400 pages of designs takes time--and you'd be amazed as to how much time in a day get's eaten up just looking for stuff.
If you are doing stuff via on-line and at a distance, you have the internet and all its quirks to affect the speed and ease in which you access info.

Again that can take time.

The trouble is the deadline you have won't change.
You cannot just "make stuff up" because the client usually wants their product seen, not your imaginative musings.

I've experimented with many different means of managing info like this, and the only way that really saves me any time in the long run is binding hard-copies. That takes a LOT of effort, in printing out, often collating into categories I can use more easily, hole-punching, and then tabbing in some way so I can access it more quickly.
Its a lot of work just to find a bloody door-knob drawing, but that time spent can make a difference in the end.

You might wonder why the studio-end doesn't do this for you..........well, they simply do not have time. The manage the info for their own immediate needs, but after that.......its assumed that the talent have some kind of system of their own.

The trick to all this is to have some way.........some method or means to be able to FIND the thing you need when you need it. If you have some method borne of chaos theory and random chance and it works for you........hey, knock yerself out. If it works don't stop using it.
If you find that finding those kinds of material is frustrating, then take some time to orgainzie yourself better.

Additionally, I found it amazing to learn the numbers of younger students I had that were very unskilled in using search engines on the internet. More than a few simply assumed that if you go somewhere and ASK someone for the info, they will give it up freely and in a timely way. Thing is, the time spent asking at numerous venues could be spent doing a simple 30 second search that usually yields results. And asking someone else usually took far longer and gained much less useful results than using the old noggin' and keyboard directly.
Again, some basic skill at managing info helps.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Now that I think about it, what do animators do about the massive amounts of sketches?
I mean I have barely any room to put stuff, and I end up placing all my sketches and animations sequences on my desk and it just piles up until the desk is no longer there, it's just a very big pile of artwork and sketches.
Seriously, is there some very simple way of keeping all the stuff from getting lost?
Do animators store sketches in boxes? or do they spend a lot of money to get transparent paper covers and store them all in binders?
I mean there's gotta be another way that I haven't thought of? Cause there's so many sketches that putting them away individually takes a lot of time.
Or is that it? I have to take a lot of time to organize?

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