The Pro’s and Con’s of a public internet life.

Well this is a tricky one, even as I type its teetering on the should I or shouldn’t I post it fence

Today I was doing some searching on the wibbly wobbly web when I came across something quite remarkable (for me at least). It was an old post on a blog that I have visited many times before in the past. Its called Uncle Eddie’s Theory Corner, its run by Eddie Fitzgerald in LA, an animation artist who I think is an old buddy or co-worker of John K’s (of Ren and Stimpy Fame). Eddie is someone I would attribute with considerable credibility. In the post he finds what he calls a student film and compares it with a piece of live action footage to highlight the importance of doing more than just interpreting the dialogue, pointing out that you must also create a memorable character. Good advice.

I could have walked away at this point with no-one I know ever seeing the post (as far as I knew). I could sweep it back under the rug, back into internet oblivion. . . . But. . .

Its my film….. and to make things worse, I wasn’t a student when I made it. (you can’t watch it now I’m afraid, I took it down from Youtube ages ago, long before I knew about this article). John K had dropped by to comment too, but lucky for me he focused on the positives of the live action clip, I’ve read him tearing animation to shreds on his blog, he can be ruthless.

Even though I animated this piece 4 or 5 years ago (I think), I felt like I had been kicked in the guts. I got up and wandered around the house for 10 minutes. Dazed. I was saying, “Ouch, ouch, ouch.” out loud (luckily I was home alone).

Then after a while a thought crept into my mind, it went something like, “Man if I could animate that thing again I’d show em…..”

The penny dropped straight away. This was the best thing to happen to me (in regard to my work) in ages. The next time I’m animating you can sure bet this blog post will be screaming at me from the back of my mind.

Having your work online can be perhaps the scariest kind of exposure. People on the other side of the world can throw stuff at you without any fear of recrimination or even the slightest social awkwardness. I would imaging it can at times become quite personal, hurtful and unconstructive (one comment states, “That 3d thing sucked”). But it is also uncensored by social restraints, people aren’t required to bite there tongue in case they offend. They can give it to you straight, with no BS.

Art is a very personal thing, its hard not to take criticism to hart, to be offended, definsive, angry, depressed. The trick is to take the criticism to your head instead. Find a positive to build on. Next character animation I’m doing, I’m gona create a “memorable character” that will make your brain rattle. Just you wait.

I wish I had found that post ages ago.


frank said...

Hey Ian

Jeez, Uncle Eddie weighed in with a few backhanders in that post. You should send him an email to say that you did see it. It'd be an interesting response.

Your work was put up against Peter Lorre (who, by all accounts and the big love-in on that post, is the duksnutz of actors).

So when do we get to see the "interview" film?

We could view it in comparison to our 1st year student film.

Sam said...

Wow that's amazing. I can totally understand that sick feeling in your stomach, but in general the comments were quite favourable to your animation. Even Eddie said "I enjoyed it in spite of the fact that I'm about to rip it."

The point of the article is really to compare it to the ultimate high pedestal that acting should aspire to, so there's no shame in coming off second best. As one comment said:

"Eddie, isn't the difference you are finding between good acting and not-good acting really the difference between great acting and (merely) good acting?"

Your acting was good, it's just that Peter Lorre's was great. You just got the most awesome motivational critique imaginable. The kind of kick in the guts that fires you up to burst out of your comfort zone and leave it shattered in your wake. It's like the creative equivalent to an adrenaline rush.

Lisa said...

it's all a learning curve..isn't it. Whatever we do we learn from the experience and build on it the next time...

Terry said...

Hey Ian, that was an inspirational post. And I don't think that blog was quite as negative as it might have seemed to you at first. Love this quote from the opening paragraph:
"My apology to the talented, deliberately anonymous filmmaker who I hope never reads this."

Ian said...

He may have been being kind there, I can't remember if I did post it anonymously, guess I may have.

This thig has had me reflecting on lots of stuff.

I bet I seem super confident to many students, but I think any artist lives their life just a stones throw away from interlectual collaps. This has been a remider that you stay that way forever, and you can't get complacent about it.

I've also been thinking about how it fits with me being a teacher. I don't think I'm at a stage where I can pull of the all knowing wise guru yet, your always learning. Maybe I don't want to become the guru. Maybe you can be a guru and keep learning at the same time. But then again you have to fail to learn. Hmmm it aint simple.

Anyway as I was typing I figured it was better to show that things warts n all. Ta for your kind words guys :)

Anonymous said...

ahh the irony

Ian said...

Well Mr or Ms Anonymous, it is true I've dished out my fair share of critiques in my day, both as a lead animator and teacher. I do hope I've never given the impression that I think I know everything though, infact I think I go to great pains to point out that you never stop learning in this game.

I was looking over this blog as a whole the other day and was reflecting on how it really is the story of teachers (I guess mostly me) trying to figure out how to be a good animation teacher. So its not like I'm trying to hide anything, its all been on display all along.

I hope you can see the leason I've been reminded of and am trying to share with you. Its not about crossing a line and being better than the next guy, its about always improving, and not forgetting how important that is. In fact its everything.