Losing touch.

“Crunchtime”.  The sound of it would make one think that its a fun break during the day where you eat your favorite candybar.  If only that was true.  The reality of it is that we, the animators, are under such pressure to produce the absolute best work we can in as little time possible.

During severe crunch, the concept of “24 hour blocking” goes into full affect, where you have 24 hours to come up with the choreography of a shot and show your choices to the director for approval to continue with the idea.  Sometimes it goes good (“good idea”) and sometimes it goes really bad (“start over and just copy the storyboards”).  The end of every pitch (good or bad) leaves you questioning your worth as an animator and an artist.  After years of doing this type of thing and because of the time it takes to execute an idea to completion (making every frame look amazing @ 24 fps), it’s very easy to fall into formulas and become afraid to take risks for the sake of hitting your deadlines.  This rollercoaster can really do a job on your own personal creativity.

Where am I going with this?? I think it’s important to revisit that kid who was aspiring to become a professional artist as often as you can and ask them for help.  For me, it was 18 years ago when I was in my room doing little flipbooks from exercises I learned in this book:

while listening to these albums:

studying anatomy by drawing from these comics:

xmen274xmen275xmen276

and watching these movies:

When I feel like I’m down and out or losing touch with my creative self, I dig up this stuff and watch/listen/look through it and I feel refreshed afterward.  Another creative gold mine I return to often is thumbing through my old sketchbooks.  It helps to give me perspective of how far I’ve come as an artist and there may be a little doodle or two that gives me an idea.  So never toss anything that may be of creative value someday!!  You never know where your next masterpiece will come from!!

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4 comments

  1. I really agree, just drawing something at home last Christmas, just for the fun of it, opened my eyes to how much is lost when you forget that kid-like fun, and how much is gained when you remember it. I just sat and drew what I wanted to see, without worrying much about “getting it right”. I miss that sometimes.

  2. Hey Pete thanks for the post!

    Its refreshing to hear from a talented vet like yourself on how hard crunch can be. One of my biggest regrets is letting that pressure get the best of me. I think remembering why I got into animation in the first place would be a great way to combat that pressure and stress.

  3. Hey Pete,
    This is a really great post! I’m so happy I stumbled upon it.
    I cannot wait to experience what a studio is like when they’re not in crunch.
    Lol, it was so intense and crazy scary jumping off into the deep end and starting my first job during crunchtime. Very intimidating. I learned a ton in a short amount of time.
    Honestly, thank you SO much for everything you helped me with! I’m not sure I could have survived my first shot without you.
    Teresa

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