5 Great Tips from an Animation Pedagogy Forum
“Ummm, pedagogy? Is that like a Ped Egg for your foot?”
Nope! It’s the forum I attended on the weekend where professionals (including Academy Award winner Adam Elliot) discussed how animation should be taught to students. They also shared tips about the industry and these are 5 points I took away!
1. ANIMATION DIRECTING SHOULD BE PURSUED; ANIMATION SUPERVISING CAN BE OFFERED
Having experienced the role himself, Florent de la Taille (a GOBELINS graduate) pointed out that if you want to become an Animation Director, you have to pursue the role from the outset. Waiting for the role to float gently down to you from the heavens in a halo of gold is probably not going to happen.
On the other hand, you can be offered the role of Animation Supervisor based on your excellent work. You just have to give an indication to your studio that you want to be considered. Animation Supervisors bear a lot of responsibility for the sequences they’re supervising, so not everyone puts their hand up to keep the kids in check.
In addition, Florent advised that if you’re really gunning for the role of Animation Supervisor, you have to check that the studio where you’re working even NEEDS one. If they don’t, then apply elsewhere specifically for that role. Be aware: some studios don’t take on outside supervisors. Some studios work on a Japanese system where you have to work from the bottom up. I feel like I can hear Drake rapping as I wrote that…
2. CREATURE ANIMATION – DECIDE ON A VIABLE REALITY
How can you layer human behaviour over creature animation?
By deciding on the rules of that world before you begin animating.
Myrna Gawryn (a teacher of character behaviour and movement) answered my question by giving an example of Donkey from Shrek: sometimes he walks on all fours like the quadruped he is and sometimes he sits with crossed legs. Ergo, sometimes his physiology is respected and he walks like an ass (tee hee!) and sometimes he’s given human behaviour like washing his hoofs to ramp up the humour. Each creature should have rules to follow so that we as an audience understand why Donkey can sit cross-legged, but isn’t walking upright like a pig in Animal Farm.
3. SCRIPT, SCRIPT, SCRIPT
Audiences can forgive bad animation but they won’t forgive a bad story.
This one is especially true because it comes from Adam Elliot, a claymation animator who says he’s never animated a walk-cycle in his life. Seriously. Check out his Academy-Award winning short film Harvie Krumpet. It’s just a lot of it blinking eyes.
But I would take his lack of walk-cycles and Harvie’s endearing story any day over Frozen. Pretty pictures are one thing, but not knowing who is the villain is another.
If only they’d followed the mantra: SCRIPT, SCRIPT, SCRIPT.
4. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE MORE TALENTED THAN YOU
WOAH, epiphany! No one has ever told me this before. Now that I’ve heard it, I realised it’s something you should ALWAYS do.
If you surround yourself with more talented people, then they can fill in for your weaknesses and also help improve them. Now I know how to fight you, my terrible texturing skills!
5. ANIMATION IS A PART OF A LARGER ECOSYSTEM
If you think about ‘art’ as being an ecosystem, then you realise that animation is just one part of it. Go explore what the rest of the ecosystem has to offer!
Like my cousin’s theatre performance that involved crazy nuns. Or trying to play ‘Edelweiss’ on the harmonica. Or learning how to make croissants from scratch!
*Note to readers: You need to have foresight into your croissant cravings. If you think: “Mmmm….yeah I do want croissants in 72 hours”, then go ahead and bash the butter into that pastry!
The point is explore – try – create! Everything you experience can help you to evolve in your chain of the ecosystem. Who knows what your outside interests can influence next?