There is no replacement for experience. This profession is not exempt from that simple fact! Smart animators immediately seek out experience when they hit a wall with their work. On the job when I get stuck, the very first thing I do is to spin my chair around, and ask all the animators around me! When I was starting out, I had the very good luck to be placed in some offices large enough that there was always somebody around who had experience with the problem I was dealing with, but small enough that everyone helping each other out was not too distracting from the work of the day. That was always between 6-9 people to a room. If you are in a situation like that, there will always be somebody around who has dealt with something very similar who can point you in the right direction. And even if you are not in a production environment yet, you are never alone when you have the internet! I learned every single technical skill I have from a forum that I visited daily when I was first interested in CG. Not unlike the Animation Mentor forums, this place was filled with individuals pursuing the craft like me. If they didn’t have an exact answer, they at least had a unique approach to the problem that would get me thinking more innovatively.
If there is literally nobody around, no time to wait for a forum reply, and you are truly stuck, there are some little tricks that might get you back on track. First, if the problem is technical, all software has more than one way to achieve nearly every effect, so check the documentation for those other paths you might take. If it’s a performance issue, then ask yourself what made you choose the performance that is not coming across in the first place. Try making a different acting choice and seeing if it was the stronger one all along. If you can’t see what is wrong, but know something is, then take a break! You need fresh eyes to diagnose the situation. Take a walk, leave the shot, and when you come back you may just have a new idea. There are millions of hurdles that an animator may encounter. So I cannot give advice for everything. All I know is that there is a solution for all of them. So never give up.
Guest Blogger Kenny Roy