Ian's Rambles - You're A Natural Kido. . . .

The image of James Baxter in the previous post got me thinking, here is another one of him at a different desk. Apart from the obvious fact that his desk is a lot bigger than those we have at Southbank what other difference can you notice?

Look at all the stuff he has stuck all over his lightbox, this guy is trying to remember a ton of stuff all at once (welcome to animation) and to help him remember he has put notes and images all around his work space. When I started to think about it I was amazed at how many students I see sit down at the lightbox and . . . . .

Click HERE to read on


frank said...

By crikey the energy vamps had a fair suck on the soul bottle at work today. It's great to be back on the ARC and reverting back to an animated world.

It's all very wonderful about James Baxter, and I'm reading about his lectures now on the Seward St blog, but sometimes you find an animation gold nugget at your own back step and I quote:

"I'm not a big believer in "talent", if there is such a thing I think its just a tendency to be persistent, or to set your standards higher than the next person ... Even for the best, it doesn't just happen. It's the result of planning, self discipline and persistence."

That, right there IS a sticky note. Know what I'm talkin' about.

sticky note said...

"It’s very easy to add a lot of distractions. It takes a lot of discipline to hold back on going overboard with details."

~~from the JB interview

sticky note said...

"All my animation is in graphite and the inbetweens/rough inbetweens in blue pencil so the clean up artist knows on which drawings he/she has liberties in changing. (This process originates from Milt (Kahl).)"

~~ tip from the JB interview

Danielli said...

I like the idea about everyone having their own lightbox, most people seem to sit at the same one very day, i know i do.
Just one thing that bothers me slightly and i quote:

"When I started to think about it I was amazed at how many students I see sit down at the lightbox and just try to pull some animation out of thin air."

I do agree with you but at the same time when I think about it, everytime we students sit down to do some drawing, nearly everyone around me has old drawings and notes and various handouts that are given to us sitting next to them on the desk, and a lot of the time we refer to them as we go about our drawing.
Now i know this doesn't mean we have all suddenly adopted the right way of going about animation, but it shows that many of us are instinctively using other information to help us with our work.
Only problem i can see is that all the animators in your photos have really big lightboxes with tons of space to put these inspirational notes and useful aides. The ones at Southbank are pretty small and out pretty close together, so how are we going to go about this?

Ian said...

Hey Frank

Welcome back to the land of ARC :)

Hey Dan

Using notes handed out by your teacher is one thing, but I'm talking about your own pointers. Being constructively critical of yourself. A phylosophy that will ensure your continued journey towards excellence.

I don't know if I agree that everyone around you has old drawings and notes (apert from those given out by your teachers). I see students sit down and just draw the first keyframe more often than not.

As for the smaller lightboxes, you may just have to right smaller :)

Ian said...

APART from those given out by your teacher.

WRITE smaller.

What a goose I am.

Ian said...

Frank if I was making Sticky Notes from these James Baxter quotes I would try to boil them down to the simplest form. You want to be able to just glance up and be reminded of the track you should be on, not have to stop for a reading break.

For that first one it could be, LESS IS MORE.

That it means something to you is whats important. Who cares if other people looking at your lightbox won't understand the context.

I don't know if the second one really fits with what I aiming for here. If you're going to put up notes on how to animate then you will need a hundred lightboxes, it should be more about what your aiming for, what you have to watch out for, what you intend to do.

A good friend of Mine Darren (a Brisbane boy) who worked in FX at Disney just had the work RONDOMNESS in big letters across the top of his lightbox. He wanted his designs and timing to reflect the anarchic behaviour in the natural world. He could sit down at his dest without his eyes passing over the word. It meant something to him, it was his compass.

frank said...

Personally, I think that moving around from computer to computer and from lightbox to lightbox around the studio is just as important.

This way an animator gets to mingle with their peers and start building up that network in the industry. Future collaborators, people with symbiotic ideas and paths. We're only going to find out if we mix it up.

Having your own lightbox = having your own turf = exclusionist.

Vote 'NO' for personalised work space at school.

But... build your home workspace up with your own compass.

Here's one I added to my lightbox today, "Turn off the modem".

frank said...

Why stop at sticky notes?

Set up a second screen next to your workspace and play Chuck Jones's "Feed the Kitty" in a constant loop, or Don Hertzfeldt, or Bill Plympton, or Michael Dudok De Wit...

Have their flickering light beam over you like an omnipresent animating god.

Ian said...

Ahhh but Frank, what if I chose where people sit.

You are a rare breed, seeking out interation with others. Most of your classmates and the first years have formed clicks. I don't know if we can use you as a standard. The first years have formed into 3 or 4 groups that hardly ever communicate with each other. What if desks were assigned randomly to promote more communication outside of your comfort zone?

I conceed its a bit more stand overish. But more and more I think thats whats needed. Look at the progress we made with the short monkey see monkey do 3D exercises this last term. We could argue that it was very controlling, but I think it fast tracked the learning.

frank said...


Nup. nup. nup.

If we don't work to mix up the groups (Jane does it actively in her tasks) and encourage people to talk about their interests, motivations and aspirations to other animator classmates, it will be to the ultimate detriment for the whole profession.

People will just fold in on themselves in their own worlds closed off by shielding headphones and screens. Working on what they think is there 'own thing' not knowing someone shares a similar interest just two light boxes down.

After the course the profession won't grow, the 'industry will tumble. The horsemen will ride.

Ian said...

I think you are putting a spin on what I have said Frank, I haven’t indicated that there would be any extra limits on communication, its a big open room, 8 to 12 people sitting around each table, and of course there would be other activities that would require you to move to a PC or sit with a group. Think about your class, mostly the same people sit together at the PCs who sit together at the light boxes. Given that people communicate about their work in both locations, this could result in 100% increase in the combinations of people exchanging ideas and opinions. People will always seek feedback from their friends (or people they know won’t be to tough on them), but this way are more likely to get additional input from others. All of this could go one way or the other depending on how its managed on the day, so there’s no point in jumping to conclusions about communication restrictions, I have no intention of letting it happen. You know me better than to think I'm going to chain you to a spot and not let you talk to anyone apart from the person on your left or something.

I'm also afraid to say that many of our students could do with more time with their head down and focussing in on the task at hand. Make no mistake Frank for the current second years the biggest problem (challenge) is work ethic, not exchanging ideas. I'm not asking your opinion, I can tell you flat, there are many with the ability and knowledge who are not going to make it into the biz (animation or the wider arts) unless things change. Your year is bursting with talent, but much of it is going nowhere with things as they are.

I am a massive advocate for the benefits of networking and information sharing in this industry, it can make a big difference. How many other teachers have you known who organise social gatherings outside of class? But this needs to be managed, there is a time and place. The truth is that at least 90% of your time as an animator is spent in silence, focussed on a goal, and most of the 2nd year class are not even close to that. (If any ARC friends are reading I’m sure they will back me up on this)

You know my saying, “Work hard, Party hard.” Work hard comes first in that line for a reason, party hard comes second. I’m not suggesting YOU don’t work hard Frank, I’m talking about students in general, which might be where we are getting our lines crossed. You’re the last student who’s behaviour around the studio I want to change. It could be argued that with your little note book of pictures and observation you already manage the exact same practice I outlined in this post, but how many of your peers do?

You have to get your house structurally sound before you can decorate it. You have witnessed first hand through your freelance work this year how much more you learn when you get a chance to exchange ideas with someone working in the industry. If our students don’t focus more on producing polished work and a little less on “communicating” (about what they did on the weekend) they will never get that chance.

I do hear your concerns though. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Any changes made would need to be sensitive to, or ever contribute further to the unique sense of community we have at Southbank. I am on the same page as you there.

Ian said...

It could also be argued that this blog and the hours of work I have put into it over the past few years is an indication of how much I care about the further exchange of ideas among creative practitioners.

Consider then that even though I am willing to devote all this unpaid time to extra communication, I still see more time with the mouth shut, focussed on applying the skills, producing work and self improvement as far greater a priority for our student body at this time. This is a big deal, the end game in many (most) cases.

This is a journey I go through with each second year group as I try to prepare them for the reality of the animation biz. I’m afraid me POTENTIALLY (nothing even happening for sure yet) amending seating positions is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to leavers I will be pulling over the coming months to try and get you working harder.

I loose a lot of friends among the students in second year each time round, but I’m not about telling you what you want to hear. I’m about teaching.

Ian said...

Ohhh don't I sound cranky.

Don't worry I still love everyone (in a totally non touchy, appropriate for a teacher kind of way), I just really want you to succeed and my love won't necessarily help with that.

frank said...

I was going to say, 'I think I pulled an Ian lever'. But on second thoughts, I won't.

I will say, "Once the storm has passed, the view is always clearer".

Just in case any first years get scared with the power of your (totally non touchy, appropriate for a teacher kind of way), passion for teaching animation.

It means that, in student code, if you can flip Ian's switch and he gets all passionate about a point of animation learning, then you will receive a bunch of five between the eyes learning experience like no other.

It is quite an innovative teaching style full of line-of-action, meaningful symbolism, power centres and.... er um what was the other one?...

*plink, the baited hook hits the water*

sticky note said...

entertainment: give it to them in an unexpected way

(ref: Animation Principles @ Animation Podcast)

Arthur Koestler said...

"HA! HA!, AHA!, & AAH!"

(3 types of audience reactionsn to aim for.)

Ian said...


Pass that secret on to too many Frank and I might just end up having a hart attack :)

Dana said...

Ahhh...the social clicks. Isn't it funny that even though we are all doing animation, clicks are still formed.
Rather sad really, isn't it? Though I can't say much cause I'm very much guilty of the act.

As for the assigned seats, I don't really care actually. We put up with it during school, we can put up with it in tafe.
In then end all that matters is that I have my new funky chuck taylor shoes.

Sorry. I'm on a bit of a happiness high =D
Isn't new found independence great?

Danielli said...

People forming their own little social groups is going to happen where ever you go, people tend to gel with those who think the same as them.
I think everyone gets on pretty well in our class mind you, i have spoken to nearly everyone in it and i found them all to be quite pleasant.
Its just there are some people who i get on with a lot better than others.

I know what you mean about work ethic. It reminds me of school, only difference here is i acctually like the course i am doing so i am willing to put effort in.
It can be a bit hard at times to get work done when you are sitting near people who you like to have a laugh with. Although i have been trying to use that to my advantage, mainly by getting people (usually Gen) to get up and quickly act out the movment i am having trouble visualising, or to get them to help me draw part of the charater, usually the hands. I can't draw hands!
We learn off each other, not just the teachers. I for one have learn't a lot about Flash from Nathan, and Ryan and Gen have shown me heaps about Photoshop.
I think the class would come together more if it were smaller. This may happen if people start dropping out as Ian predicted.

Ian i just noticed that your first few replies where written early in the morning. Lay of the coffee and get some sleep man!!!

Ian said...

I agree thats clicks will happen Dan, but we can manage them to a degree. Employers do :)

frank said...

Hey Dan

About the hands. The problem is universal and a cure has been found. I am one of those who has been through the treatment.

Your post about not being able to draw them is like a red rag to a bull to Ian. I'm surprised he hasn't done the following to you yet:

"Dan what I want you to do is go home and draw 50 hands a night. 25 left, 25 right."

(That's starting to sound a bit like Dr. Seuss)

But we must press on with the story: Then he'll say, "After a week bring the drawings to me."

I might leave it for Ian to finish off this animation folk tale...

frank said...


correction, if I may please myself.

"We mangae them to a... diploma"

ark! ark!

(Remember Mork & Mindy)

(anyone? ...)



*swallowed by whirlpool*

Ian said...

I've been typing so much on the ARC of late I don't even know what your correcting.

nanu nanu :)

frank said...

I always thought the term was 'cliques'? 'Clicks' is the collective noun for a group of cicadas.

I prefer 'coterie' as implies an extra layer of snobbishness, like the kangaroo's nose implies in Horton.

Pardon? Whassat Mitch? Whadidy'say?
"Frank's a what?", A pedant?

Isn't that something that travellers hang around their necks on a leather thong?

*floomp* (sound made of laying down after brain exertion from strong italian coffee)

Ian said...

Some refrence for hands :)


frank said...

It was interesting to walk around the studio checking out all the little notes on the light boxes.

I sat in some of the seats, so there...

I am an anti-nationalist and I think it's the start of facism in the classroom

... then I went and claimed my bit of turf and stuck some notes up.

My eyes kept drifting back to, "Make Ian mad."

(It refers to pushing extremes)

frank said...

I have to listen to interview #2 of the James Baxter series now, as apparentley he gets down to the nitty gritty.

sticky_note said...

"It's all been done before"

(A reminder that the first idea that pops into a student animator's head for a gag is probably one that's been seen elsewhere. So draw some more variations and claim the one that gives it to the audience in a unique way not a cliche... that's probably a cliche in itself).

Dana said...

oooo hey...that's a good one to stick on your light box, I like it!
I like being able to personalize your light box, its like being back in primary school and you were able to set up your desk like you wanted to :p

Ian said...

I'm only trialing the sit in one spot (a randomly selected spot). but I would have to say that the original signs were encouraging.

As I challenged students to write notes and pointers for themselves I saw them thinking objectively about their skills and the things they needed to adress as aposed to just floating forward through the day.

I saw students who don't usually communicate talking to each other.

I saw more head down and ass up time.