I have found myself recently in a position where people are looking to me for advice when I’m still looking for the same sort of guidance for myself. I’ve learned along the way that there are very few absolute answers and that after you learn techniques and strategies, your education begins to become more of an exploration of discovery. Since I’ve started teaching, students reach out for an answer to their animation and film making problems, only to find that there are none. At least in the sense of walking away from class with a guarantee for success. There are tried and true principles that can work for you and we as teachers help to facilitate passing the knowledge of such things. However, so much of what your work comes down to is what you are inspired by and how it strengthens your instincts. The tools at your disposal are useless if you don’t know how to use them or fully understand the potential of what they can give you. A lathe in the hands of someone trying to fix a kitchen chair leg is different from a lathe in the hands of a master craftsman.
We all have movies that inspire us artistically as animators, but try looking a little deeper. Look at a favorite film of yours, one that you don’t equate with your passion for animation, and take a moment to ask yourself questions about it. Why do I like this movie so much? What makes this entertaining? Why is this moment so funny? What makes this moment so powerful? Now go through the analysis of finding the answers to those questions as you watch your favorite movie again. Perhaps hold the film and those questions up to comparison with a film that you don’t enjoy as much and and look at how they differ. You’ll be surprised and inspired to find how the answers can directly relate back to the animation work that you do.
In the upcoming weeks I’ll try to post some individual examples of what I’m talking about. I’d like to talk about design, composition, and music. Some things you wouldn’t immediately leap to discuss when you seem to hear everyone going on about arcs, timing, and overlapping movement. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch The Odd Couple again and try to figure out why I still laugh so hard at Felix clearing his sinuses in the diner.