Saturday, October 03, 2009
Well, Cloudy is out for three weeks now and still going strong. I think that Sony is really happy with how good Cloudy is performing. It's always a privilege to be called to work on a movie like this one and I'm extremely thankful and happy to have been a part of it.
At RIOT games we are constantly improving the existing animations and animation system. It's great coming into a company with an existing pipeline and helping to make it even better. In the last few weeks we made some major improvements and the game clearly shows. What's more important is that the beta users are noticing even without us telling them what we did... so, all the hard work pays off. And talking about a challenge. Most of our animation clips are under 1 sec. Animating a believable kick, backflip, punch etc. in under 1 sec is a challenge in of itself, and I'm constantly learning how to find shortcuts to make the motion look believable while maintaining the speed.
Now for something completely different. There are two things I encountered a lot lately that I wanted to share with you. I noticed how important these things are to an animator's career and would like to pass them on. Both of these I would qualify as "recommended skills" before even touching a mouse/pen and starting animating. If you feel like you've never worked on these skills, now is the time:
1.) Say "Thank You" and be polite. What? What kind of animation tip is this???
Well, in my role as a senior animator I've been dealing more and more with people sending us/me emails about job offers or questions of how to get into the industry. I always answer those emails and sometimes take the time to explain things for 30min or more to help our applicants in their career. And you wouldn't believe how many people forget to send a Thank You-email afterwards, or lack the overall skills to write a polite email in the first place. I know for a fact that time and time again people are not being taken for a job since their social skills lack the easiest things like saying "Thank you" or using a "please" in their sentence... If a company takes the time to answer your email (which happens rarely enough in this busy industry) then you should immediately write them back, say Thank You, listen to their advice, and make sure to follow up on what's written in the reply... Some great talent never gets an opportunity to animate because of this. There is a reason why this is the first skill that Student Volunteers get reminded of when coming to SIGGRAPH...
2.) Have confidence before you animate!
Ever had those moments thinking: "A 360 degree backflip kick followed by a heartfelt monologue about a character's misery, and all of it animated in 3 days - I can never do this!"?
If you are thinking like that, I can almost guarantee you, that you're right and you won't be able to do it. The more I animate, I realize how incredibly important confidence is in our daily job. Believe in yourself and you'll become a better animator. It's that simple. Don't shy away from tough scenes and deadlines. Embrace them. Let me explain this a bit.
Ever heard of Alexander Fleming? This famous Scott "invented" penicillin. It took him over 200 tries to get there. A reporter once asked him how he feels about his 199 failures. Fleming answered: "Oh no, Sir, I did not fail 199 times. I just found 199 ways how not to make penicillin".
He was confident that he would solve this puzzle no matter how long or much effort it takes. Failure is not a fact but a personal view of things. If I ran 100m in under 10 secs people would applaud me and write about it in the newspapers.
Tyson Gay ran 100m in under 10 seconds and had a new personal best time, but in the shadow of Bolt running even faster that day people regarded Gay's time as a failure. You see? Failures are not "happening" they are just being "called" into existence... and this lies within your own power.
If you can't animate a 360 degree backflip today, then this should not keep you from trying it, learning how "not" to do it, and get better at it for the next time. If you ever want to work at a big animation house this confidence, this optimistic view of "I can tackle this", will help you become a better animator. It's not about being cocky but rather about not to doubt yourself before even trying. The best animators I've met in my career are humble and confident at the same time, not shying away from a challenge but embracing it.
I hope this helps somebody out there, struggling with either. You can know everything there is to know about animation, but if you can't write a polite email or have confidence in yourself, you'll never animate to your full potential - or never get the chance to show it.
Have a great week, everyone, God bless,