::more on being back::

April 14th, 2011 by hamish download the zooToolBox

After this post, Brad Clark from Rigging Dojo asked me for more info.  Not sure if I can link to a tweet, but the question was this:

just wondering what you are feeling are sticking points, what
area are you having to work hardest on now v. back in the flow

I thought the answer was worth more than a tweet, so here we are.  A quick bit of background to set the stage:  I started out in 3d as an animator.  I morphed into the role of a tech artist because those around me didn’t step up – technical leadership is important, and I guess it suited me.  I’ve discussed it here before (third paragraph) so I won’t bore you again.  But basically thats been my path.  I started out doing lots of animation, and have ended up doing not so much.  In fact, I have done very little animation during the last almost 5 years now.

For now the animation work I’m doing is very much a part time thing.  There are still loads of technical problems and improvements to be made, and honestly, I’m a much better technical artist than I am an animator.  But doing animation is something that I think is really important for me as a technical animator.  Using the tools I’ve written, working through the workflows I’ve helped define, having to deal with all the bugs, shortcomings etc of the work environment I’ve helped create puts me in the shoes of my users and forces me to see and understand the implications of my design decisions.  And I think thats really important.

Anyway – sticking points.  Well, the first would be the calibre of the folks around me.  ;)  Yeah, they’re all kinda good.  I mean, I was never the best animator, but the animators I work with literally are, some of the best.  I guess this isn’t really a sticking point – its more of an opportunity for me to learn and grow.

But the other big thing is the fact that its hard to stop thinking about the technical side of things while I’m animating.  Its been such a part of my mental process for so long that its really hard to turn it off.  And I think this is the biggest thing.  So many parts of the animating process have the potential to be improved, sped up, optimized, made easier etc…  And when I’m animating, all these thoughts are running through my head.  So just pushing those thoughts aside – or at least shelving them for later – is hard.

Like any creative process you do your best work when you’re in “the zone”. And getting into “the zone” is all about focusing all your thoughts on what you’re doing. Whether that be animating, painting, composing music or writing code – if you can push all thoughts aside except for those related to what you’re doing, you can usually get into this amazing mental groove. Its awesome. So I find it very hard to get in “the zone” when I’m animating these days. It doesn’t stop me from doing work, but it does make it harder and less efficient.

Anyway, Brad – and anyone else who was interested, I hope that answers your question!


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  • http://profiles.google.com/bclark.cgchar Brad Clark

    Yes, thank you…that has been my continued issue as well, when I do get around to being creative /animation etc, it becomes very hard to then turn off the “if I just take a min here to fix X, and then I could speed up this thing here if I …” hours later 3 key frames are set and I am digging around in scripts.

    I do think it is important to eat what you cook, so to speak and have to be a user or live with the users/animators to learn how your ideas are getting interpreted.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    good to hear I’m not the only one then. :) I’m sure its a common experience though. Anyone else found the same thing?

  • http://profiles.google.com/floppydj David Shaw


    I’ll add that I have the same problem, whenever I do get the chance to be in ‘creative mode’ I find it very hard to focus in that area, one of the worst offenders is I get about 10-20 interruptions in any given day by people asking things they generally should already know or are too lazy to ready a document that’s been written to explain it!