Sunday, March 19, 2006

My Animation Software Isn’t Making It, Because Something Is Stinking Up The Room.

I spend a great deal of personal time working to help other cartoonists and those who would aspire to becoming cartoon makers. I suppose that there are people who wonder why I bother. The answer is relatively simple. What goes around comes around. Life is all about the biblical Golden Rule. You know the one: “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” or a close approximation. So I have always appreciated the help and encouragement I have received from others and I just like to return the kindness.

So I try to share knowledge and experience and yes, even opinions. Today’s article is a little of each. Life was a whole lot simpler when I was 17 and wanting to learn cartoon making. It was simpler but a whole lot harder. There were no computers in animation except some very simple ones used to help automate camera stand operations at the really high end studios. We were lucky to have some basic motorization on our camera stand. Everything was hand drawn on paper and then hand inked and painted on cels. And to get advice or to learn the business was a real challenge. Not like today with the Internet and forums and blogs to provide almost instant worldwide access to knowledge and information.

Yes it was simpler then because there were so many fewer alternatives to creating animated content and fewer forms of distribution too. It was easier to stay focused. Today the alternatives just keep expanding and it is a daunting task to cope with all those options. Technology is a wonderful thing and we live in an amazing world. DVDs and IPODs and video phones and the Internet itself are right out of the Sci-Fi stuff I use to read as a kid. OK that’s enough “well back in my day” recollections. My point in this article is with all that has changed there is one thing that remains the same.

The tools you use may save you time and labor and may make the work easier, but that just means it is easier to produce the cartoon equivalent of day old fish. Not a plesant smell for sure. It is really still all about the content and not the tools. I understand and appreciate the amount of time and effort it takes to learn to use new technology and how important software has become in animation production. I’ve been climbing that mountain for years. But one thing that I see so often as I frequent the forums around the Internet is the overwhelming preoccupation with software features and which software is better than which other software. There seems to be an almost endless obsession with trying to find the magic software that will make animation just flow directly from the mind of the user to the final product in a single mouse click. Yes it is easier today then it was when I was 17 but much more confusing.

It isn’t the software. It is still all about ideas, design, storytelling, and creativity. And you still have to master all the fundamentals which although aided by software are really independent of the software.

Why am I writing this article? Well simply put, I’m hoping to reach and inspire a small number of people who want to become better cartoon makers and to remind them to not abandon the roots of their chosen art form. There are so many great places to go on the internet to discuss things and to interact and collaborate. I would just love to see more discussion about the fundamentals behind creating great content and less mental anguish about the latest and greatest new software tool. Tools are important but you can have the hottest newest most powerful software on the planet and if you haven’t mastered the real cartoon making fundamentals of creating great content and you haven't developed your creativity, then all you have is a really expensive tool box.


Post a Comment

<< Home