–and something about design, writing, being an art student and whatnot
My partner for my Final Year Project that’s coming next semester bailed on me, and I don’t blame her.
I’ve been working on a 2D animation with that same partner, and we both are feeling the pressure. I’ve done good in 3D, but I’ve decided to hone my 2D. Classical animation might be dying but it’s adapting. You see it alive and well in games, and I see illustration being mixed into 2D (less riveting complex motions, more aesthetics and meaning). 3D has quickly become too cookie-cutter for me, but 2D is hard.
I’ve always felt like I’m at the top of my game, doing the best that I can do. This may be the first time where I feel that my best might not be enough.
I’m anxious. Here’s why:
I asked animator Mel Roach in her Tumblr about the speed of animating. She says, “I usually allow about two months for a short five minute toon with a couple of people working on it.’ She also goes on to say that a general rule is “1 hour = 1 second of animation”
Two months for five minutes sound fine. I know that animation is a labor of love. It’s the “1 hour = 1 second” rule I’m getting a hard time understanding. Here’s an example.
18 seconds. This took a lot more than 18 hours.
“Oh but Nicky, you’ve always been faster than your classmates! Even your partner’s not as fast as you!”
If you’re the fastest among your peers but you think you’re slow, or you ARE slow compared to the major players out there, then you’re slow! Faster does not mean fast. And that rough clip isn’t even done! I want to add and change things here and there. Lecturer agrees.
“You don’t have to add those tiny details. Who would notice them? It’s good enough.”
That brings us to the next point.
I want my characters to feel real. What animator doesn’t? Even something as tiny as a blink, or even the spacing between blinks, affects how lifelike the motion is. Prior to writing this I watched a video from Animade
Was it entertaining? Sure. Was it ultra detailed? Not really, but it doesn’t matter cause it was sufficient. Couldn’t you just make something simple, therefore making you work faster? Of course, but when something calls for detail, I wouldn’t be able to deliver it on time.
First scene of REC (seen above) was cakewalk. The second scene required him to turn in a certain way. It was only a few seconds, but moving a box like him would take literally seconds in a 3D software, but for me, ages in 2D. I tried doing it full manual, too slow. I had to use 3D as a crutch to speed it up, and it still took me 3 days to do it. Pros do it easily (I think), and hey I’m almost graduating. I need to step it up.
Was it too complex? I’d say so, and with my partner gone in the next project that means I’ll be working at half my current capacity. I need to manage expectations for what kind of scenes I can do.
3. Not doing it the right way
This ties the first two points in a nice knot. More like a noose.
Am I doing something wrong? If I am it wouldn’t be surprising. Here I am, fresh out of year two with cool 3D skills, and I’m doing 2D, which was only slightly touched upon in year one. I admit, I didn’t exactly enroll in the greatest 2D animation school in the world. First of all, I thought I’d be doing 3D, plus I have talent in that. Second of all, where’s the closest good animation major? Australia? I don’t own a money tree.
So is the reason that I don’t work as effectively the fact that I haven’t been taught the most effective way? If anything, I’ve been using Photoshop layers for animating. Are hundreds of pros just laughing their asses off now? “Photoshop? Who they heck animates with Photoshop?”. I know there are programs like TV Paint, but I can’t afford / know how to use it.
Of course, I’m not just gonna blame college / softwares / whatever. There always the last point.
4. Maybe I just can’t draw
There’s no denying that I’m not the most talented hand in the world.
To potential clients who happen to see this, I know that it raises several red flags. But here’s me being vulnerable and honest. Hear me out. I’m a student trying his best here.
“Oh but Nicky, you’ve always drawn better than some of your peers!”
Not only is that not entirely true, but again, better does not mean best. You’ve seen me eager to learn, with me practicing gesture drawings and whatnot, basic skills that I feel I’ve yet to master, but eager to learn means nothing without results.
I’d love to be that underdog who wasn’t very good in the beginning, but was eager to learn and eventually became very talented, but it could easily be the other way around. The little engine that couldn’t. Not wouldn’t, just… couldn’t.
I dunno, maybe I’m just scared. Or maybe I have to face facts?
“What facts? Your success or failure hasn’t been set in stone.”
Yeah but it will be at some point. This is just the tip of the iceberg here, I have TONS of things I’m anxious about! What if 2D animation doesn’t pay the bills? What if I disappoint people’s expectations? What if my future wife is a success and I’m just a mooching failure?
“Just shrug it off man, keep going.”
Yeah I know. This isn’t like some crippling event that’ll scar the rest of my career, just voicing my worries. I have to manage my expectations for FYP, think of something that’s possible to finish within the allotted time, but also do better.
I wish life was easier, but it’s not. It won’t be. It’s not supposed to be.
I’ll end this on a lighter note, because Nicky’s always in progress, even when he’s suffocating within his own depression. I actually decided on what I’d be doing for FYP.
Indie developer Jonathan Blow once said, “Let me take my deepest flaws and vulnerabilities and put them in the game.” Okay, let’s take MY flaws and vulnerabilities and put them into an animation.
This is going to be a story about, not only me, but every budding animator like me. Facing a sea of challenges, not even sure that the treasure will still be there by the time we reach it. It won’t be a happy go-lucky “Heyyy! It’s okay, you will succeed!”, but a swift kick in the crotch by reality.
There is no guarantee of success if you try, but there is a guarantee that you will fail if you don’t.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
And if after all this talk I still fail? Well at least I tried. I’ll go work a day job to feed my family and maybe just animate for fun. Sigh.