There are certain realities of animation production that change depending on the size and nature of the production. Often at a certain point, the creativity has to end to make way for the act of simply getting the thing done.
I have never been a big fan of ‘realities’. Sure, there are genuine limits. But more often than not, ‘realities’ is a term used so we can do less work and be okay with that. Other times, somewhat more poisonous, it is thrown at you by others so you’ll do less work which, in turn, will make those people feel a little better about not putting in similar effort themselves. In either case, it shifts responsibility from the individual and assigns it to the rest of the world.
Accepting the responsibility as ours (as creators, directors, writers, producers – any part of the process), I was all too far into my career when I figured out what I believe to be an important truth: if it can be made better, it should be.
No, that doesn’t mean aiming for perfect (doesn’t exist) and it doesn’t mean missing deadlines, blowing the budget and scuppering the project, hence the all-important ‘if’. It just means aiming for excellence and deciding that, at any stage of the process, improvements can be made.
For example, we dropped the very first episode of Fluffy Gardens series 2 that we animated. When put together, it simply wasn’t as strong as the others and we knew we could get another better episode written and produced within our time. So we did. Just because we made it and put the work in didn’t mean we had to use it. Not when there was a better episode out there. So instead of ending up with 39 episodes we were happy with and 1 we weren’t, we now have 40 episodes we love.
In Ballybraddan, which was one continuing storyline, it became clear late in production that the series was even stronger than the first episode made out. The show deserved a better setup. So we rewrote, rerecorded and reanimated half of the first episode right at the end of production and we made it a far stronger series as a result. The changes to that one episode made all the subsequent episodes better and we were able to do it on time and within budget.
In the production of every show, even after years of development, potential improvements become apparent at various stages. It’s often only in the doing, doing it for real, that they show themselves. Sure, in both cases we could have left things as they were and maybe few would have noticed that they weren’t quite up to par.
But if it can be made better, it should be.
Last week, we got a working cut of the very first Cosmo episode together. It’s good. Actually, it’s pretty great. We have always aimed high on this one and I want it to be as great as it can be all across the show. The animation in particular is superb – I can’t wait to show some of it here on the site. In many ways, the show is even better than I hoped and that’s a pretty fantastic thing to be able to write. It also sets the benchmark that much higher, a benchmark that now every element of the show must reach. And so I spent much the weekend working on completely new design possibilites for some of those elements even in the thick of production.
It’s already really good. That’s a beautiful start when aiming for excellence. All we have to do is remember, if it can be made better…