The Mountain

Every shot can be seen as a mountain that animator has to climb. Some go on that mountain without the proper gear and bad weather comes quick and blows you farther down the face. This happened to me recently. I find that whenever I cease to do the work of planning a shot, I get lost. I think “How the hell did I get this job?” The shot becomes like a lump of wet clay that I am trying to find form within. There are drawbacks and some positives to this. The drawback is that you are not clear. You have not found the idea yet. You are searching for everything from strong poses to ideas that are not mediocre. The good thing is that it does force you to dig deep and pull out the good stuff if its there. Some of the things that can make it easier for you to get out of the “Base Camp” of your shot are having a second opinion. Another thing is to get a jolt of confidence. I was speaking to animator/director Mark Walsh the other day as he was telling me the story of how the great Freddie Moore started a scene. He would walk into the other animators offices and say something like ,” Tell me how good I am fellas”.. Oh, your the best Fred, remember when you animated this and that and so on… Fred would smile and walk out and begin his scene…OK, maybe it did not happen exactly that way but he needed a boost of confidence to take on that new challenge. Animation is hard. One of the things I remember clearly in the early days at Pixar was a certain genius animator’s  shots. That animator, who shall remain nameless, struggled so hard to get the perfection he wanted. He thumb nailed, blocked and reblocked, polished and re polished, yelled, cursed, threw tantrums and so on. It was literally like climbing up the face of Everest, but when he got to the top, all was forgotten. The shot was the thing you remembered…. Not the pain, the deadline, it was the moment. We all make the same mistakes, but its important to know that we have to stay students and keep climbing!