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Joined on 4/19/05
Posted by Fim - June 30th, 2020
Yeehhhhhh so I was thinking about doing some kind of animation autopsy thing for my Elon Musk Jam submission, and since the winners have just been announced I guess nows as good a time as any to write up my thoughts while the experience is still relatively fresh.. This is mainly for my own benefit, but maybe someone else might get a kick out of reading it too.
Just checked, and the 'Date created' of the animatic.mp4 (an animatic is basically a roughly animated storyboard), and it seems as though I finished the animatic on 15/06/20 23:54 (July 15th). And given that the deadline for the competition was 22/06/20 (July 22nd), that meant that I only left myself a week to churn the fucking thing out. For anyone who's been to University / College, this was a week reminiscent of when you have to hand in your dissertation, one of those weeks where your brain and time decides to get a little bit fermented.
To borrow a line from Rebecca Sugar (Steven Universe), production management in animation is like, 'putting together a magical puzzle', and structuring my time was crucial. A few things I'll note here are: I had to decide which scenes to keep and which to chop, and in what order to do theses scenes; less important shots shots were done first, to get my eye in, the fiddly / important shots in the middle, before fatigue sets in and whilst there's still some time to play with if there's any delays, and the easier stuff last, when I'm in full swing. I also made sure I didn't leave the audio / foley mix til the last day which I have done in the past, and that I made my daily schedules to be a mix of design and animation, so each day didn't feel too same-y. A fundamental maxim with animation is to 'never underestimate the work', so I stuck too, and tried to get ahead of, the schedule I set myself. Anyone can do an all nighter on the final day, but the trick is to get yourself into that do or die mindset early on, and hopefully by doing that you create a bit of breathing space towards the end of the project.
Without wanting to sound like too much of an ass-hat, I've always felt like one of my better attributes as an animator is my ability to turn on my tunnel-vision, and put in 12-14 hours a day on a project when I have to (which I certainly did here). I'll be thinking about the project in bed, during dinner, while I'm out for a walk (and of course the only reason I'm going out for a walk is so that I'll be refreshed when I get back in, and therefore more productive!) (nerd!). It was definitely more of a sprint than a marathon, and it was nice to have a chance to test that aspect of myself during COVID, as there's been more than a few days during quarantine where I've just felt sapped of any energy.
A big motivator for me was having great voice acting to work with, and a huge shout out has to go to Johnny Utah for his sizzling performance. He's the sort of guy who could read out the phone book and it'd sound funny, and getting to work with raw audio from him was a treat. If the final thing is any good, that's down to him.
Creatively there were a load of decisions to make on this project, one central thing I tried to keep in mind was that each shot needed to be 'funny first' - I didn't mind if character animation or rigs or whatever were a bit sloppy, so long as the scene made me laugh. Another rule I had was, 'cheat with colour' which essentially means that if I didn't have enough time to create a super detailed background, I'd throw in a bold colour, or an interesting gradient or texture, as a means of distracting the viewer. Colour really is a whole other ballpark, and not something I'd call myself an expert in, but using colour effectively can be a great way to cut corners and make a shot look better, quickly, which is useful if you're up against the clock. There's a reason why comic books usually have a separate line-work artist and colourist.
No retrospective would be complete without the arbitrary "if I were to do this project again I would..", and I really could go off on a tangent here... I think fundamentally the animation was under-cooked, if I'd had 2 weeks to animate it would have looked gorgeous, so what ended up being posted was a exercise in compromise. Although I'm still pleased with it.
I think a wise move may have been to rope in someone to help with backgrounds, as this would have freed up a lot more time for me to work on the character animation etc. I'd also re-do shots D & G again completely as I'm not happy with them (the profile shot of Elon and Assistant, and the 3/4 of Elon and Grimes). I'd stick some music in there, clean up the char animation, maybe do some extra details of tattoos on Grimes' arms, and maybe chuck a few inbetweens in with the face rigs for blinks and mouth positions, little things. I'd also include a blooper reel of Johnny Utah doing different takes of 'X AE A-12', because they were really funny. On the positive side I really liked the shot of Elon's feet and the sfx Drill sequence, they're probably my favourite shots funnily enough even though they're not pivotal ones.
Last of all, I'll just make a comment on the Musk Jam winners. Fuck you all, you bastards. (quieter) You bastards. I'm only kidding.. I'll admit I was partly swayed to take part in the comp because I thought winning a prize would be gnarly, and I appreciate that anything I say here will sound like sour grapes, but I feel as though my animation was certainly in the top 16. I won't name any names, but I feel like even though it could have been better, it's still hella better than a few of those that got the nod. What especially stings is the fact that some of them were submitted a day or 2 after the deadline, and a day or 2 would have really helped me neaten up some things, that would have been essentially an extra 1/3rd of the time I spent on it.
Judging was always going to be subjective though, and there are some crackers in the winners list (Son of Musk was a worthy winner for sure). I think perhaps one of my errors was to back-load my animation, and have the quality improve as it went, after it starting off a little rough around the edges (design-wise) and then end strong. That was a deliberate decision, but I feel as though perhaps that turned some people off from watching the whole thing, and maybe it would have been stronger overall if I'd cut the initial Elon monologue. But you live and you learn, and it still got front paged which was coool.
COVID has been a crazy time, and it really would be petty to rant about not winning when there are more serious issues out there in the world right now. #rantover
Posted by Fim - February 11th, 2014
Shameless plug for my latest offering in the portal right now.
What originally was just a dumb few seconds I was playing around with in Flash somehow turned into this 5 minute + episode that took me a couple of months to finish.
I learnt a huge amount doing this, one of the main things being to spend a lot more time refining my storyboard before I lung headfirst into the project (this episode was originally even longer than it is now, but I decided to cut a few scenes out).
Head over there and give me a 5 you slobs :)
Posted by Fim - January 24th, 2013
Just realised the last blog update I made around here was in 2009.. smite me down for my slackness.
In personal news, I'm starting a new job, moving to a new place in a few days, and am looking forward to things in 2013, we already didn't get apocalypsed by mayans so everything's a bonus. Also check out fimanimation.newgrounds.com for future productions. I'm hoping to make a few big projects this year.
Also felt like this is a very articulate and amusing summary of political / media events in 2012. Anyone not familiar with Charlie Brooker should check this out.
Posted by Fim - December 20th, 2008
I have forgotton many things in the past, I couldnt tell you what though because I have forgotton them. However it is annoying when I cant remember / find the link I want so I'm gona be sloshing them all down in this handy blog. Feel free to add anything funky you think I might enjoy, no porn.
MIND HAS GONE BLANK!!! will add more later
Posted by Fim - September 28th, 2008
I got me graphics tablet working :D
Had it since my birthday in early august but I literally just this minute got it to work so I'm over the moon, also just ordered CS3 which will be arriving in "1 working day" so am gonna start making some really decent animations soon. Not that anyone will care, or even read this..
*09/10/08 - fimanimation set up for future productions