Workflow

Workflow

Developing a character’s personality can be slow and difficult. There are no magical shortcuts or fancy tricks for moving characters in unique, entertaining ways—just a lot of patience and elbow grease and an organized workflow from blocking to polish. As Milt Kahl once said, “If you don’t plan your scene, I’ll kill you.”

He didn’t actually say that, but you get the point: it’s a good idea to know where your shot is headed. Yet while defining how Spaceman George moved, I found it helpful to improvise by asking, “What if?” over and over. As a result, I developed a two-second breathing cycle into a twenty-second pantomime shot. I also grew a beard because animating takes a long time.

One last thing: animation is a messy process that demands continual iteration. Frank Thomas once wrote, “You have to believe you’re not tripping for biscuits. At some point your shot will stop looking like a slugburger at a clip joint.” Frank was pretty old-school so nobody knows what the hell he meant, but I’ll give it a shot: what used to be funny last week in blocking will be funny again someday.

Keep setting keys, seek out quality feedback from people better than you, and don’t forget to shave once in a while (beards are for lumberjacks).