As animators who also happen to be human beings, we make mistakes. And over the course of hundreds of frames with thousands of unique movements and subtle actions, we make a LOT of mistakes. It’s part of the job, and so is fixing them. So how can you get the mistakes out of the way and get on the right track sooner? Today we’ll take a look at how to get the failing out of the way lickity-split so you can arrive at a successful animation even faster.
#7 Know the Mistakes Are There
The worst thing you can do is go in expecting that everything will work perfectly the first time. Be aware that you are going to need to fix things, and allot time for it.
#6 Work “Dirty”
When you’re starting out for the first time on a scene, it’s crucial to get as much on the page/screen as possible to describe the shot and tell the story. Don’t bog yourself down on the details, get things roughed in quickly, even if they’re ugly, so that you can see if it’s working and start locking things down.
#5 Don’t Noodle
Noodling, explained here by Mike Gasaway, is when you start fine-tuning something that isn’t working and repeatedly play it back to check. It’s a never ending cycle that can eat up more of your precious time than almost anything else. So leave the noodling at the door!
#4 Focus Internally
Always, always, always start with what’s going on internally. One of the biggest ways you can waste time and energy is by worrying early on about some subtle little movement of a character when the fundamentals aren’t solid yet. You might eventually nail that little movement, but then you discover the entire pose around it isn’t working, or the pose just before or after it. Then that entire bit of animation is toast, because you started with the external things instead of the core of the character.
#3 Keep an Open (or Closed) Mind
Occasionally what will hold you up the most is your own second guessing. Decide going in if you want to have an open or closed mind about issues you run into. Open means you forge ahead and ignore the nagging feeling that it could be better (which you might solve as you continue). Closed means you ship it off to the trash bin ASAP and move on, no regrets. Just by deciding which way you’ll approach the piece you save yourself the back and forth of indecision.
#2 Take Time to Think
In our busy, busy world the simple act of sitting in silence and thinking is sometimes looked down upon. In art, thinking is essential! Before you touch a pencil or computer, sit with your eyes closed and walk through possible ways to handle your scene. I once had an art teacher who gave us a list of how to approach animation. The first two steps were:
- 1. Think
- 2. Think
This is valuable advice, because a well thought out idea is going to get finished much more quickly than something that isn’t planned out in advance!
#1 Know What Doesn’t Work
You don’t have to go into every new animation blind. With time and experience, you’ll learn what doesn’t work so that you don’t even have to try those options. You can also take a look at this list of 25 Ways to Fail at Animation and start by avoiding those! There’s no substitute for experience, and if you find yourself working extremely slowly now, don’t worry, before you know it you’ll be a lean, mean animating machine!