A genius way to learn fast for great art
Do you get ideas, start planning, then keep planning some more to the point where you create a project that would take you a year and a full crew to finish? Or you overthink things a lot and all you end up doing is staring at a blank page?
I have binders full of ideas that are mostly unfinished because I let them become monster projects that seem impossible to do.
Now, I’m creating very short projects that (should) take less than a week to finish.
I made a 5 second short animation. I saw this “Top 20 5 Second Films” on YouTube. It’s genius. Watch 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, production and post-production.
Another sets of rules I gave myself for this project, are 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, etc) than a 20 minute film. 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.
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!
Simple is not easy
I tried to stay as simple as I could, but things just had a tendency to add up. 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: to change ideas a hundred times, and letting the project get bigger. Eventually, I thought I would never finish it. I wanted to polish it, and tweak it, making more complex animation, etc. These 5 sec cartoons are supposed to be done fast. I just said fuck 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! 😀