Successful Traits of an Animator


At CTN Animation Expo I spoke on the topic of the five successful traits that an animator should have. Here is a recap. I hope to expand on this soon and post some of the video I shot for the lecture. In short they are:

1) Attitude. Its probably the most important thing you could possess. A lack of Ego, someone who has a natural drive and can communicate with others. I know, this sounds corporate, but it really is important to have a good work ethic. Being an organized animator is of equal importance.

2) Good Choices. When I say good choices I’m talking about good ideas. Acting ideas or ideas that are not the norm. Its so easy to fall into the camp of just animating to a piece of dialogue. Coming up with original ideas is the hard part. I struggle with it everyday. How do you keep your work fresh? I always fall back on what inspires me. A great film, an interesting piece of animation, a drawing, a comic strip whatever…. The point is to really push yourself to make good interesting choices.

3) Entertainment Value. What is it that makes something entertaining? Adding entertainment to a scene that is funny is one aspect, but making any shot have entertainment value is the key. How can you find the aspect of the shot which makes it different from the rest. The way a character walks, or how they gesture. I always am inspired by Mr. Bean for pure pantomime entertainment.

4) Physicality. Obviously your characters need to feel like they belong in whatever world they are in. Having a sense of weight and balance is so important. Many times the rig will look hollow. your characters must have that specific weight. I remember how hard it was trying to make Sullivan look heavy. We went to a UC Berkeley lab and tried on these huge fake arms in order to see how it might feel to have heavy arms. It helped, but mostly I took away the idea that there is an aspect to each character which sells the weight. In Sully’s case it was the arms, belly and weight of his head and his overall mass.

5) Caricature. When I asked around about what people thought was the most important trait, this always came up. The ability to see something in real life and know where to push it. This is what makes great animation. Taking an aspect of something or someone and boiling it down to the essence. The Big story is a great example of caricature in design and movement.

In the next posts we will try and delve further into each of these traits. Thanks for reading. Also, this is my opinion and just some thoughts about the subject.