Human Contact - Are animators lone rangers?

This post isn't so much about the animation (feat. Blur), but how I came to see it. It was from a recommendation by a friend who lives about 3604km away. Nic is an author and she suggested looking at the artistic works of David Shrigley. Then there is my stockbroker friend Chris, who regularly sends me animations he finds on Vimeo. I look forward to these contacts, maintaining friendships.

Another part of the networking communication dance I observed at a recent summer school course, was the sharing of animation between animators. (It's also what Ian does with this blog, the ARC).

I think working in a studio environment, with actual other people in it, rather than remotely, is so very important for a healthy animator, due to the contact with other human beings. Even in these times of swine flu. I would say an important part of being an animator is being a social creature and being able to communicate, communaly occupy the same space and work with other people. It is an important skill set. So, if you've been cooped up all day, all week, all month, all your life on your own in the thrall of a screen and animation software, it is time go out to a cafe, or for a walk and meet up with a friend.

Ian, we have to catch up for lunch next week on Monday or Tuesday.


frank said...

Why do animation studios have an interview process when they can see all those showreels online or on a CD?

How do people who can't animate as well as you do get jobs in front of you?

Do you cringe at the saying "It's not what you know it's who you know"?

And be careful, 'knowing' someone doesn't mean that you have stalked them until they recognise you, it may actually mean, sharing a common interest and being able to talk passionately about it.

Networking isn't just handing out a copy of your reel and a business card. It is actually communicating and connecting with the other person.

We spend a lot of time at animation school (I hope we do) looking at body language, gestures, communication, subtext and maybe we don't actually practise our real human interactions enough.

I didn't want to bog things down on the blog page, so I just scateered these thoughts around in here to make it look as though someone had read the post and made a comment.

Ian said...

Dear oh dear all this stuff scattered around in here. What a mess. Who will clean this up?

Hang on that bit looks quite useful..... and that bit over there.... and another. Hmmm what do you know :P

Or is that, who do you know ;)

Frank said...

H'ray another animator. We have made contact.

I was just thinking about writer Nic and stockbroker Chris, and how I wouldn't have been sent on an animation micro-story adventure to see what caught their eyes, if I hadn't known them well.

Another side to being a social, herd creature, is when I sat down to lunch in a canteen in an animation school (where I got to be an animation student again while on brek from teaching) and chatted with an animator about dance and yoga, and how studying other movement arts complement the crafting of animation. He was passionate about animation being sculpture, being the 'sculpting of movement'. He spoke on the language of curves and the way the graph editor speaks in patterns within the apparent chaos. He keenly compared crafting a walk cycle by an animator being akin to a musician practising scales; testing the instrument = testing the character rig. We chatted a bit about surfing, teaching animation and differences between cultures. Nice chap. He worked for quite a bit of time at Pixar, was animation director on a feature but he never dropped that into conversation like I just did here. We were just two animators chatting, testing assumptions, and sharing ideas.

The reward is that I feel I am a better animator from just the social interaction and discussion with another animator.

Dan said...

i do miss the social interaction thing.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was just blogging some meaningful(less?) bewdiful agonizations on my blog, amazed at how deep my sensitivities are..and I felt a little lonesome (like Dan) so I came over to the ARC to find you two verbally a'huggin and a'kissin like them thar varmints and faeries in that fillum you ran there, Frank,the one that makes me laugh like me Dad used to at the Goodies chasing the Funky Gibbon or poor Benny Hill oscillating between chasing very bumpy nurses or running away from them....That leaf blower blows away my angst every time I see that clip. Especially the bit where he puts the leaf blower on dangerous and said squirrel lifts as elegantly into the wind as a swift kick to a dried dog turd. So which one of you is the squirrel? AAAhh life is really like a lone thong in the wind....but the ARC is a nice little friendly nest for real AND aspiring animators.

Anonymous said...

The above was just demonstrating my lack of social graces....and my desperation to bond with like minded individuals after years of creative isolation inflicted by my own, sell myself up why don't I? The conundrum for a student I think, such as myself, is to try and forget how awkward they may feel when talking to "elders" or peers and concentrate on having a worthwhile-for-both-parties conversation. I tend to trust that if your'e sincere in your work (and try to constantly improve it) which seems to be the agreeable necessarily ever-learning culture of animation... then when it comes to talking about why you'd want a job at the place you'd researched extensively and already made contact with in an unstalky way, then still you could ideally be confident if your work is up to par...then again you couldn't be too sure that someone who works theres girlfriend isn't also going for a job there...etc...and if you don't get the job you could ask them how you can improve... I'm only repeating stuff I read in "Building Your Career in Animation" by the guy who animated "Blues Clues", it's in our library and it says similar worthwhile career things to what Frank is saying. I think it's valuable for us students to watch how our teacher calmly negotiated his recent student experience. It matters. It sets out another possible path to follow..I think someone interviewing you most probably is going to make a rational decision about which canditate can best do and handle the work and fit comfortably into the culture. And it would then help if you got the job, to work your butt off and never grow too comfortable as Ian said to us in his recent talk. Then you wouldn't have time to be caught in any politics...'s a fineline and another important skill to learn for us students. I think we should be researching places to work in our own time early on.

Ian said...

Michelle where I work I am among the very oldest animators, I have experience working on feature films, something many of the younger animators may whish for in their cereer, and I've animated much more than most of my coworkers. BUT I can assure you I don't walk around thinking the value of a conversation with any of my co-workers depends how experienced they are.

The journey for anyone working in an arts related field is so unique, there isn't anyone I can't learn from. Even students would sometimes challenge my ideas or show me new things when I was teaching.

Everyone has their own experiences and we all benifit from exchanging opinions and ideas (as long as it isn't alowed to become a destraction from producing animation itself because there is no substitue for that).

Whats more likely to put an experience animator off in a conversation with a student is a self contiousness or needyness. Sometimes when they get a chance to talk to an experienced animator students can turn a conversation into an interview. I know its easy to say, but probably the best thing you can do is relax, let the conversation take its natural path. Ask questions, but as part of a mix with the natural conversation.

Some animators can have big egos (we are just a cross section of the rest of the world), but on the whole we are interested in sharing our views with like minded folk just as much as anyone else. :P

Anonymous said...

I'm hearing you, Ian! That openess and down to earthness of you guys and my other teachers and all the animation names on the webs same generosity with sharing animation techniques is confirming for me that this is the industry I want to work in. Anyway I better get out of my speculating/concept processing mood too,and get animating! Thanks. Hey, I wish some other students would comment more.