December 23, 2002

“Hello there. That’s right, I’m talking to you, young man or woman sitting in my vestibule with the briefcase that’s too big for its contents on your lap. You look good. You smell good. You want a job. And you’re not going to get one, because you’re about to boot your job interview with me.

“I’m gonna do you a favor and tell you a couple of things.”

Read more in this humorous Fortune column.

As you may know, I have an abiding interest in animation, and want to create my own animations. Last Sunday, I drew the seventh and final frame of a personal animation.

Once the euphoria of that situation passed, and over the ensuing week, I’ve struggled to assemble that animation. “Struggled” is the operative word.

I’ve just about completely failed to assemble that animation. Oh, I could soldier through and put together a shoddy mess, but there’s very little point in that. Sure, I’d get Ra-Ra points (not the greedy dictator of the anime TV series Dual!, which will be airing on TechTV shortly) for finally finishing something, but at this stage I’d rather finish something that won’t have viewers squinting at the screen saying, “Wha…?”

However, even failure is good. I’ve learned a whole lot in this process of putting everything together. Much like the audio failing when Saalon made his first short film, which pushed him to ensure that he’d have high-quality audio from that point forward, I can now recognize a few important pitfalls of animating, like:

  • didn’t bother to ink the drawings, figuring that the scanner could pick up even the light pencil lines and I’d darken them on the computer. It’s not that easy. I was setting myself up for failure. (Sure, I could have inked and re-scanned them, but this was combined with several other problems.)
  • I decided to draw the frames on high-quality drawing paper. This paper happened to be cream colored. I thought nothing of this until I scanned in the drawings and realized that it played havoc with the scanners’ brightness and contrast settings, which combined with the lightness of the pencil lines to create scans that were barely legible.
  • I didn’t number the drawings. Even with a seven-frame animation, I got two drawings out of order. That was okay, but it could have saved myself some aggravation if I’d taken thirty seconds and numbered each frame.
  • I didn’t pay attention when scanning the drawings, and put some of the drawings a little to the left or below others. When I put the first few drawings together, they jumped all around on the screen. Not exactly a professional job.
  • I chose a fairly complicated object — a three-dimensional box with a lid that was opening up — and the animation was comparatively long for a test project. I would’ve done much better with a simple object, like a ball, and fewer frames.

Am I discouraged? A little bit. Will I let this stop me from making animations? No. I’m going to put that animation firmly behind me. Now that it’s over, I can spend my time on a new animation, and do it better this time. I’ll use white paper to draw a simple object, ink it, and then scan and animate it.

I won’t let a disappointing project get in the way of my dreams.

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