Sunday, March 1, 2009

Crushing Animators Dreams

maybe Karen can crush your dreams?If you take part in an animation critique of your student work with your part of the conversation going something like this: “Yeah, but…”, “Yeah, but…”, “Yeah, but…”

Then you need to read this post.

I am concerned. The animators in my care are missing out on an important part of their education from me. The second years are bringing their animation dreams into the light, out from the dark recesses of their imaginations. And there is no brutal, direct animator to crush some, or part, of their animation dreams for the animator's own good.

When I was a student there was a teacher who would crush a student's dreams directly and honestly and out of kindness. That teacher had seen a reality in animation that is not present at animation school: people invest and spend money on the animation being produced, and they don't like to waste that money. Bosses do not like to see their employees wasting time.

The team we have teaching this year will not allow students to go off the reality track with their animation dreams. Directions will be given to harness any wayward schemes while trying not to stifle creativity.

But there is something about a brutal approach that may be missing in a teaching institution studio setting where the focus is encouragement to create.

The thing that is missing is an approach similar to how a studio director may manage a junior animator's work and behaviour during paid working time. Something more realistic, like what junior animators will expect to face in a workplace where creativity is t-boned by economics.

In a studio the boss' main aim is to create income so everyone gets paid. So they can by food and find shelter to live. On the boss' desk is where the violent crash of art meeting commerce happens. Income is the imperative to keep the business alive. A workplace is not so much a place to educate and coddle the ego of a junior animator as they hatch an animation.

The workplace boss's critique of work that deviates off the client brief in a moment of junior animator creativity, that is not up to standard, that is not completed on schedule due to hours spent "researching" on the Internet, may be a bit more abrupt than junior animators faced at animation school.

The specific lesson is about understanding what a critique, and sometimes actual criticism (they are different), of your work is all about. It is important how an animator deals with a critique of their work as to whether they will weather the tempest of being a junior animator in a paid animation career.

Luckily Karen J Lloyd has made a post on her blog that covers some of the reasons why animators need their dreams crushed. One is to save you from the crushing hammer-fist of embarrassment.

Criticism and feedback, when coming from the right place (or sometimes the ‘wrong’ place) is the only way you learn and grow... Smoke-blowing will keep you where you are. Stagnant... if it’s (criticism) coming from that place of wanting you to learn something and grow, then keep your mouth shut for a minute and listen. Stifle the “Yeah, but…”s.

"Being a constructive critiquer" from the Animation Resource Centre.

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