Wednesday 30 November 2011

Reel making tips from comedy writers

I just finished reading a book titled Writing Movies For Fun and Profit.
Its basically a realistic satire into what the film industry is looking for and how to make it as a writer. With that being said a lot of the wisdom's they offer to writers apply to animators.
So in point form here is some blunt food for thought for the young animators or job seekers out there.

1. Studios are only interested in making piles of money, period.

2. If you know what it is you want to do, and know where you want to work, research it. Live close to it. Tailor everything you do to it.

3. Discipline. This is what separates amateurs from professionals. ALWAYS BE ANIMATING. If you want to work in the industry and are presently not, you should feel compelled to animate everyday.
Why do you need to animate everyday?
1) Most of what you do won't be on your reel.
2) You will improve with everything you do.
3) Animating something becomes easier after you have done it once, imagine after 100 times. Seriously, animate a ball once. Time yourself. Save that scene. Do it 50 more times. Time yourself. Only compare the first and the last. I promise you, not only will the last one look better. It will have took you 1/10 the time.
4) You will have things to show a studio if they ask to see any of your work that is not on your reel, and it won't look like crap.
5)You won't still be in love with the shot that no one but you and your mom like, and you will be more inclined to throw it in the garbage and start something better, or you will be more inclined to take feedback and fix it.

4. Observe things everywhere. Life is one giant pose and character library. A good animator observes how ppl around them move, how they behave, how they hold themselves etc... If your not at home animating, you better be observing things that will help your animation.

5. This is the most important thing in this list. Everything you ever animate, ever, needs to be entertaining. If it's not, stop what you are doing, right away. Unless you are learning a principle, or its a school lesson, STOP NOW. Or unless you are entering some odd film competition, that 95 ppl out of 100 would want to punch you and the films watched in the face. STOP. If you don't know what's entertaining, or how to make a shot entertaining, STOP, ask everyone you know to look at your work and what you can do to inject entertainment into it. If you still don't know, STOP, watch every movie you can. If you still don't, STOP, rethink your career. All humans watch t.v, cartoons, movies and play video games with one purpose and only one purpose, TO BE ENTERTAINED.

6. Don't reinvent the wheel. No one wants you to. There are 12 principles of animation. Learn them, use them. If you are getting feedback and are always hearing ppl tell you that you're missing some of the principles. In all honesty, if you haven't mastered those principles stop doing advanced animation, you aren't ready.

7. Don't waste anyone's time(this goes for yourself as well). If you are seeking feedback to build a reel, and aren't applying what people are telling you, they will stop giving you feedback. This sounds harsh, but I've seen it happen many many times.
If your reel is still under construction, you should be devoting the majority of your waking time to it, any other time is wasted time. If you know what you are putting on your reel, you should seek feedback on every shot, until you know how to structure your reel to be as entertaining as possible. Fingers crossed ppl are still willing to help you at this stage.
If you are having someone watch your reel, they don't want to see 5 minutes of average work. We all know after 5 seconds if we want to watch your reel. If we aren't impressed at 10 we stop, if we are bored by 20 you've lost us. Think of it this way, two writers who have made 1.5 billion dollars for a studio only get 10 minutes to pitch a new script. How much time should an animator get to sell their reel?