Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Monday, November 14, 2005

School follow up

This is a follow up to my previous post about animation schools.

I have been hearing about this Idea of being generalists or a specialist for a while now and I'm not sure either of them is right. It really depends on what you want to do, and how you classify them. Learning Story, Design, Drawing, Animation, and filmmaking does not make you a generalist these are directly related to a career as an animator. I consider myself not just an animator but also an animation filmmaker. Everyday I help make films; my job involves meeting the story point for the given shot. To do this I need to know where that character is emotionally in the overall story of the film, and also where the character is emotionally in a particular sequence that shot is in. These things give me clues to the acting needed to tell the story. Animation is all about story telling and story telling doesn't end in story. All the way down the pipeline until film out the story is what drives the whole production. Story to Layout, then to animation, on to lighting, and at last film out, everything is serving one thing the Story. Even Modeling and Rigging, Art Direction, Character Design, and Shading all serve the story. No decision is made unless it serves the over all story of the film. So having a good understanding of story and filmmaking is invaluable to us as animators. Our job is not to just to move things around it's about being able to communicate the Directors vision to the audience in the most simple and clear way. Design and Drawing are tools that help you as an animator do your job of serving the story better. Having an understanding of drawing even at the basic levels helps posing, design, your knowledge of anatomy and your ability to observe. Design is important to the overall appeal of your shot; composition, posing, staging, and movement are all effected by design. In the end we are all creating 2D animation, the final images are flat so design is super important to that final image. As an animator having an understanding of good design, and story telling may give you more room to move around with in the studio, allowing you to work in story and the art department. So this Idea of a specialist while a good idea doesn’t mean just learning maya and moving stuff around. There are other skills that are required to truly becoming a great animator.
The idea of having to know modeling, lighting,etc. really depends on the studio you work at. Working at feature film studios things tend to be more segregated. Animators generally just animate, so having an extensive knowledge of modeling, rigging and lighting are not as important as just being a good animator. Although as productions become more complex animators are getting more involved in the process of modeling and rigging. Working in video games is the complete opposite where knowledge in the whole process of modeling, rigging, shading, and animating are all important, since the animators do more than just animate.
I say cover you bases and choose to specialize in what you want even if the school isn't set up for it. You want to be an animator then focus on that, but learn the other stuff just don't spend as much time on it. Get in see how it's done don’t become an expert and move on to animating. When it comes to making films, make films that show off your character animation skills. Do short character pieces rather than huge epics or foreboding art films. They don't have to change the world. Heck they might not even have to be done, choose the parts that have the most character animation in them and finish those first, and leave the rest story boards. It's up to you to choose your own direction you can't leave it up to a school to do that for you.

Dr. Stephen G.

13 Comments:

Blogger Drew said...

hey guys.

i don't want to sound like too much of a "fanboy" and i really hate comments that gush just because "you're on real pixar animator's website."

with that said, this is really a great piece if advice. when you're only 12 credits away from being a real college graduate, you start to reflect. i didn't do animationmentor.com, even though it's a great program, but it wasn't around when i started school. i wish that i could just focus on character animation here at school, but (i say this with a lump in my throat) i'm glad that i've gotten a more broad education. but at the same time, i've had to be more dedicated than (some) others because i have to keep from getting sidetracked on the "other."

i don't want to take up any more of your comment space, but i think i'm going to go off on this a while if you want to read.

www.artoftoon.blogspot.com

great post, dr. gordon.
-d

11:42 AM

 
Blogger Cody Travers said...

Love your blog man, keep up the good work, hope you can check out my blog some time and tell me what you think, peace out...

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11:59 AM

 
Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

Just so you know, this post was put up by Stephen Gregory, not me.

-Andrew G

2:28 PM

 
Blogger Adam Strick said...

Wow, I just came across your blog and thought is was really cool. I have a bolg too and you guys should come and check it out!... just kidding! haha


Anyways, I completely agree with dabbling in the other parts of the workflow in cg because you never know when you need some sort of a prop, some quick particles in the scene, or a clean little render and it's nice to be able to do this stuff yourself. Plus you never know , you might come across part of it that you like even more than animation so it's nice to explore through them. Although, at the going rate of colleges a lot of this can be done at home and most of what you need to go through to figure this stuff out can be found in books. I think I spent about a year with cg software just going through and reading everything I could on all of the different subjects and tried them all out before deciding that character animation is what I wanted to specialize in.

I am now taking 15 credit hours of traditional art classes from a local school, which I believe will feed upon each other just as character animation will feed from them, and studying animation elsewhere. I would suggest finding out where you stand and then decidin on the best way for you to learn it. It could be a matter of sitting at home and studying from certain books while putting in the hands-on time to really figure things out but it might be a bit faster to learn at an institution. So good luck, and explore all of your options!

4:07 PM

 
Blogger oilspill said...

Blog is AWESOME!!!

5:04 PM

 
Blogger jeff said...

actually- videogames doesn't require all arounders like it did in the dark ages - the bar has been raised quite a bit and people that are generalists often have trouble staying employed, unless they're really good at everything, which is, of course, rare.

1:54 PM

 
Blogger Mehdi said...

Not bad for a great blog. i like it, tell you what we should chat online sometimes toghether, i`am making a book called "LIFE ON FIRE" maybe you would like to read it first. Why don`t you check out my blog and then contact me via e-mail.
Blog: coolmm2.blogspot.com
E-mail: cool_mm2@hotmail.com

Bye for now ........

6:19 AM

 
Blogger mye said...

hi! i think ur site is pretty good. u're the ones who did toy story? my kids just love it! my sister-in-law sent us a tape and they played it everyday for a week or two. keep posting and we'll keep reading. did u also do the incredibles? we liked that too...
you guys should do a seminar here in the philippines, we have lots of good artists. although with the birdflu scare and a lot of other "scares" i understand d reservations. you guys are great and this site, too. keep writing!

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