A genius way to learn fast for great art

Do you get ideas, start planning, and then keep on planning to the point where you create a monster project that would take you a year and a full crew to finish? Or do you overthink things to the point that you end up staring at a blank page?

 

I have binders full of ideas that are mostly unfinished because I let them become monster projects. To change that, now I’m creating very short projects that (should) take less than a week to finish.

 

 

 

One of them is a 5-second short animation. My inspiration came from this “Top 20 5 Second Films” on YouTube. It’s genius. Watch all of them—they’re awesome and crazy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u4kwkWXrAU

My goal is to create a series of animations, using the same steps as any longer movies, but only 5 seconds in length. They are short enough so they can be done in a few days. I get to animate, design, and edit fully finished pieces of animation.

 

 

When I was working in studios, I was hired to do one task at a time. I was either a clean-up artist or an animator. I didn’t go through the whole process of creation, from the idea to the finished cartoon. Now, I want to go through the complete workflow from pre-production to production and post-production.

 

Some rules

I gave myself some rules for this project, what the animator Bill Plympton calls “Plymton’s Dogma”:

1-Short

2-Cheap

3-Funny

His dogma is about the business side of films, not the creative side. From his experience, short films can get featured in more channels (festivals, DVD compilations) than a 20-minute film, which means a low budget film has better chances at being profitable. Funny films are easier to sell than more serious ones. For the purpose of this blog, it’s a perfect set of rules.

 

The idea

I was doing my laundry and started sketching some storyboards. The first two ideas that came to mind were a bear eating popcorn at the movies and Dracula. Go figure 🙂

At this stage, I’m trying really hard not to complicate things, not to overthink, and to just do it!

 

 

DOWNLOAD the free guide “Is my drawing OK?” to find where to focus your next drawing practice.

 

Simple is not easy

 

I tried to stay as simple as I could, but things have a tendency to add up. Still, five seconds of time can only hold so many camera angles or locations.

 

The very first day, I made a storyboard, the character designs, and an animatic with some audio tracks. I was happy with the result and what I had accomplished.

 

Once I started to create my files, I stumbled upon a few things. My sketches were too vague. I was trying to fix composition and drawings that should have been figured out already. The character placements were wrong.

 

This project took me way too long to finish. I did exactly what I was trying to avoid: change ideas a hundred times, and let the project get bigger. Eventually, I started to think I would never finish it. I wanted to polish it, tweak it, make more complex animation, etc.

 

But these 5-second cartoons are supposed to be done fast. I finally just said screw it, I’m not trying to create a masterpiece.

 

I did have fun though. I like designing the characters using references, searching for music and sound effects. I find the editing process to be really fun.

 

What type of short projects do you create? Let me know in the comments.

 

Here’s the finished movie! 😀

 

 

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