Friday, April 22, 2011

Connecting with your work

I've had a tough time over the past few years choosing what to spend time working on. I've gone through a bunch of shots that never made it past my computer. They've been marked as simply "Practice" shots, which it really is if you think about it. I'm sure there are many animators, or artists out there who go through this. Which made me want to write about this...

I think finding a connection with you and your work is the BEST thing to do to get some kind of worth out of it. Even if no one ever sees it! Instead of just picking something to do to practice principles of animation, take some time and think about something that you can connect with, and put a bit of who you are into it. Studios notice those things, plus your work will get better and better the more you do that, trust me! Of course there are things that simply look fun to animate, with no deep emotional connection, and I think those are good things to do as well, because we should always have fun with what we're doing! I think it shows when someone has really had a good time animating something!

I'm gonna go through the current shots in my reel and talk about why I chose to do them, and what, from myself I've put into them. Of course in the future this won't match up because my reel will be different, but readers can still get the idea of it.


Shot 1: "I need help"
I chose to do this one, because I wanted to explore how this person felt trying fight something that kept coming back, and just trying to get over his drug addiction. My dad had a drug addiction problem, and that had a lot to do with what drew me to this as well. He passed away when I was five, and I was picturing him saying this if were alive, and became clean... It was tough acting this out because I didn't know how to feel, but I watched a lot of interviews with recovering addicts, and got an overall feel for how a lot of them felt, and how honest they've become with themselves about needing help, because they didn't feel that they had the power to do it alone.

Shot 2: "Never enough"
I chose to do this shot because I felt a connection with the dialogue, in that, in the animation industry, I was feeling like I wasn't enough to make it, when I was seeing a lot of people I knew getting work, etc. I had a rough time looking for a job and spent over a year unemployed. I was practicing, sending out reels, and was getting a lot of rejection. Although I experienced this 2 years ago, I could easily go back to how I felt during that time, so when I saw this film I knew I wanted to do that clip.

Shot 3: "Bad people"
I went with this shot because I really liked the contrast in the dialogue and I felt the connection with the secondary character realizing the harsh truths about how some people really are, and how corrupt some things really are. Aside from that, it just seemed like a fun clip to animate! A good chance to hold back in areas, and focus on the acting.

Shot 4: "Dr. King"
Who wouldn't want to animate an audio clip like this? This shot just seemed really fun to me! I loved the contrast in characters and how crazy this old man was! It makes you wonder if his story was really true! This is one of the examples of shots where it just seems fun to animate. While working on it, I was remembering older people at church when I was younger, and the stories they would tell, or people I would encounter on the bus in SF while in school, over-hearing their conversations and stories, and seeing the listeners faces looking like they knew that the storyteller was full of it.

I hope that this helps someone out there struggling with finding what to work on. I still suffer from this from time to time, and it probably won't end. Just remember to show yourself in your work; tap into your different emotions and let yourself be vulnerable so you can get a sincere performance.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Getting into character!

I'm working on a pretty long shot right now on my own time, and I just wanted to talk a bit about getting into character, and how important it's been for me lately. I've seen people who don't use reference and tend to struggle with what's going on in their shots, so I thought I'd share some thoughts.

I've found that getting into character can really cut down the amount of time you spend actually animating. I know it may sound weird, or hard to believe, but think about this...

When you shoot reference for a shot you're animating, and try to get in all the character details in your performance, you'll have all the information in front of you to go off of! Of course you'll still find areas to play with timing, and maybe add some secondary action you didn't think of before, as well as spending some time polishing details you didn't even see in your reference etc. But, you can explore several different choices when you're planning your shot with reference, and seeing the action in front of you, in context. In the end, you basically see how your shot's going to look (for the most part, lol). If it doesn't match up with what you see in your head, do it again, and again, and again, until it's RIGHT.

When I shoot reference for things, I try to leave my own gestures, and my own feelings aside. It's REALLY hard not to resort to typical things I would do. But that's the fun of it. Think about who that character is, why he/she/it is in the situation they're in, and how they'd actually feel and react in that situation.

Acting stuff out is a lot quicker than animating different ideas!