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”:




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!



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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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