Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What inspires you?

I have found myself recently in a position where people are looking to me for advice when I'm still looking for the same sort of guidance for myself. I've learned along the way that there are very few absolute answers and that after you learn techniques and strategies, your education begins to become more of an exploration of discovery. Since I've started teaching, students reach out for an answer to their animation and film making problems, only to find that there are none. At least in the sense of walking away from class with a guarantee for success. There are tried and true principles that can work for you and we as teachers help to facilitate passing the knowledge of such things. However, so much of what your work comes down to is what you are inspired by and how it strengthens your instincts. The tools at your disposal are useless if you don't know how to use them or fully understand the potential of what they can give you. A lathe in the hands of someone trying to fix a kitchen chair leg is different from a lathe in the hands of a master craftsman.

We all have movies that inspire us artistically as animators, but try looking a little deeper. Look at a favorite film of yours, one that you don't equate with your passion for animation, and take a moment to ask yourself questions about it. Why do I like this movie so much? What makes this entertaining? Why is this moment so funny? What makes this moment so powerful? Now go through the analysis of finding the answers to those questions as you watch your favorite movie again. Perhaps hold the film and those questions up to comparison with a film that you don't enjoy as much and and look at how they differ. You'll be surprised and inspired to find how the answers can directly relate back to the animation work that you do.

In the upcoming weeks I'll try to post some individual examples of what I'm talking about. I'd like to talk about design, composition, and music. Some things you wouldn't immediately leap to discuss when you seem to hear everyone going on about arcs, timing, and overlapping movement. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch The Odd Couple again and try to figure out why I still laugh so hard at Felix clearing his sinuses in the diner.



Blogger Breinmeester said...

When I was about 15 I did a comparison between Se7en and some clone with Cristopher Lambert in it, trying to figure out why one was a masterpiece and the other was a pain to sit through. It was the first time I did such an analysis and the answers were very enlighting. Since then I've made it my strategy to analyse films or other arts I like to find out what makes it work. The best I've learned is to find out what your story is really actually about and try to enhance that any way you can.

Any other thoughts?

5:15 AM

Blogger Kamui.EXE said...

Well... as for what inspires me can be a mixture of things when it comes to what I draw and create. Sometimes it's a strong musical piece (Usually an orchestral one) that gets me going. In a musical piece, it's usually certain sound cues (Like drums or a really dramatic part) that create imagery in my head or describe how a character moves or acts. As an example, the Memoirs Of A Gesha soundtrack "The Chairman's Waltz" inspires me to think of a darker and more tragic character who may come off as being sinister at first, but he has a certain charm to him and deep down under those layers, he's a good soul but a tortured one. I can also see him walking quietly through some fresh snow and he's the only figure in the landscape. As you can see, musical pieces for me can create quite the images for me and is an excellent source of inspiration.

As for movies, I have quite a number of movies that inspire me. But what inspires me in a movie is usually character design, the character personality, the storyline and/or the setting. Every so often, animation matters too and I factor that in.

6:51 AM

Blogger Fränk Spalteholz said...

Hi Adam!

I'm sure we all really appreciate that! But all we can do is leaving a simple message like saying "thank you!" for taking time teaching people you don't know.

with best wishes


8:49 AM

Blogger Dave said...

Great post - thanks so much!

3:00 PM

Blogger Kamui.EXE said...

@Frank - I think that they DID ask a question here about what inspires us. So like what inspires us and why?

Anyways, on that same note, I forgot to bring up one more thing that inspires me - bad movies. The reason for this is because no one really sets out to create a bad movies... they just happen! But also in watching a bad movie, it gets your brain juices flowing and thinking about ways to improve a movie. I mean we've all seen a movie that was extremely bad, right? And in those bad movies, you can see things that could be improved upon, right? As you can see, it's a creative excersize all on its' own!

On that same tangent is the occasional "deleted" or "dropped project" movies that you don't hear about until a little while later along with a backstory of WHY they were never greenlighted. Quite often times, you can also find some of the creative leftovers from these dead projects and often times are just begging for use. That also gets me thinking of ways on how to make stuff work if I could. So I start thinking creatively again and usually I can weave something out of all those leftovers. It's sorta like the game from "Who's Line Is It Anyways?" called 'Forced Fit' where you have to get two opposites to work together such as Alligators and Telephone poles. The results of doing this on the creative/storyteller level can be a little wacky, but for some strange reason it just works and becomes fun.

So yeah... those are the other things that inspire me.

5:37 AM

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