Jason Schleifer (name corrected ;) put up a couple of posts about being more efficient with your animation. He doesn't have me convinced yet, but I'm linking them anyway because it's probably just going over my head right now.
post one post two ah, he snuck two more in while I wasn't looking post three post four
basically, he's a supervisor now so he has less time to animate, and the time he does have is like 30 minute chunks, so he needed to learn a way to be able to jump right in (instead of "warming up" for 30 minutes) and make small steps of progress.
So I tried something different. As I was getting up from my desk to head to a meeting I would think about the very next thing I wanted to accomplish in the shot. If it was a pose, a simple movement, a rhythm, whatever it was I would decide on a small chunk of animation that I felt I could accomplish in about 20 minutes. and then think about that whenever he could until he could get back to animating.
small tasks let to small successes that kept him encouraged instead of overwhelmed.
The important thing here is not the time that I had to work on the shots.. it’s the planning I was doing before I started working so I knew exactly what my task was. By making this plan, I always felt like I was making progress.. and feeling like I was making progress caused me to make even more progress.
I know what some of you are thinking.. you’re thinking “that’s great if you know what to do, but what if you’re exploring? I don’t KNOW what kind of pose I want to do, or what my shot is supposed to be! ”
And that’s totally fine! Here’s the agreement you can make with yourself that will reduce your stress 10-fold. Agree that you will give yourself 3 hours at the start of every shot to explore ideas. Give yourself 10 minutes to write down the emotion that you want the character and the audience to feel. Give yourself 20 minutes to talk to another animator about it. Give yourself 1 hour to thumbnail (do you know how many thumbnails you can do in an hour?) . Give yourself 20 minutes to look at other shots of the character that other animators have done.
Those are incredibly small tasks that will really improve the quality of your shot because they will help you focus on what’s important.
About quality: first know your character inside and out so you'll know how they react in any situation.
By knowing what the shot is about[the purpose of it in the movie}, clearly and distinctly in your head, you can ask yourself right away “what is the clearest and most direct possible way I can get this point across?” Instead of thinking about the mechanics of what the shot is, you can think at a higher level of what does the shot need. Once you know what the shot needs, then you can layer in all the subtle things that make it unique for the character.
It’s the combination of these two things.. clarifying the intent and then making it character specific that gives you the ability to make the shot great.
...if you can solidify these things before you start animating you’ll be able to quickly get rid of any ideas that will lead you down the wrong path.
...The great thing to realize.. is that in most cases the director doesn’t really care how you reach the point of the shot, they will care more that you get the point across. If you don’t know the point you’re trying to make.. how do you make it?