10 Second Tip: Don’t Lose the Spark

Today’s 10 Second Animation tip comes from the Twitter account of Dreamworks animator Kevan Shorey. It’s a good reminder and tip on keeping that spark of life you often find in your animatic or blocking, all the way to the end of your project.

Kevan says: If you like your blocking keep a movie of it on hand so that you can refer back and make sure your polished work retains that spark.

Often times as animators we can overwork a piece, adding in so much detail work that it becomes a mushy mess. Sometimes less is more, and when we’ve ONLY got keyframes or blocking in place with snappy timing things can appear to be “better” than after we’ve sunk two dozen hours into a scene.

By saving a copy of your early stages you can be sure that the “spark” of life that you captured doesn’t float away into oblivion. It’s easy to forget to do this and just keep working with your original file, saving over the magic you once had! Make a new habit of saving different stages of your piece as separate versions so you can always go back and compare with where you began.

If you’d like to follow Kevan Shorey on Twitter, he can be found @kevanshorey. And of course Animator Island’s tips and tricks are just a click away @AnimatorIsland!

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Katie Wood

Ah yes, I always save my work in its seperate different stages. Also if something goes dramatically wrong with the next stage or you lose it, you can start again from the last stage as opposed to from scratch.

Peter J Casey

You need to animate what you like. If you are a wacky guy who loves pink and tend to remind other people of a young Robin Williams, than animating a subtle depressing scene is not an ideal choice for you.

Also, every once and a while, animate something that you don’t care if it’s going to good or not. It could be the most stupidest idea in the world. Such as a pair of giant flopping genitals or something equally as awful and down right silly that you will never show anyone. I encourage this for two reasons.

1: pushing yourself and your art is Extremely stressful, emotionally draining, and sometimes downright depressing when you are done. Because what you produce will NEVER live up to what you want it to be. Times this by a thousand times over the course of several years and all you know is animating = stress and depression. Doing silly stuff for the sake of silly is a way of lifting that weight off your shoulders.

2: I open up toon boom and start animating straight ahead with no plan. Because I don’t care weather it looks good or not, some of my most creative ideas come from this exercise. Trying to come up creative ideas and making sure if they are good or not puts your mind in a box, locking it down with constraints. Does my finished product look good? No, it always wiggles, and volumes warp.

I’m not good at wrapping things up. So I’m just gonna leave with that rotisserie chicken and spicy barbeque sauce is probably the best food I have ever tasted.


: D. Good job, cheers!

Michael K.

Simple, to the point, helpful. The 10 second tip ones are the best.

Phillip B.

I usually get real frustrated when the end one doesn’t look like the early one I do, so this could be really helpful! Thanks.

Alexandria Connors

Wish Maya would just know what I wanted it to look like and fill it all in for me 😛

Judith Ann Mott

Straight, to the point and well written! Why can’t everyone else be like this? Too much fluff and garbage on most animation websites.


I usually just save over the file so I only have one crapping up my desktop.


A word of admiration. This is an absolutely true aspect of animating. Good call!