Monthly Archives: December 2017

XMas2017

One of the things with this business is that you can rarely talk about the cool stuff you’re making while you’re making it. It’s often top secret stuff. As we approach Christmas, I desperately want to shout about what we’re making at Mooshku… but I can’t. Next year.

What I can mention, however, is how we make what we make. How we’re trusted to deliver the best for young kids and how we pass that trust on to our fantastic team, allowing them to bring what is special to them to our work. How we explore character, life, acting and how crucial the setting for all this is. How we like to encourage people to do more than that one thing they were hired for, how we have to do that as a small team. And how we look to see where everyone can bring something more, something extra to each part of the process. Always looking to make it better and doing so with a smile, enjoying the making.

All of this has made the latter part of this year a joy and makes me excited for next year as we take this production to the next level. We’re making something special.

A break gives me that space to step back and look at what we’re doing and how fortunate we are to do what we do. How fortunate we are to work with the people we work with. And how important it is that we make something incredible for kids, to make them smile and laugh and brighten a day. Giving them something positive. So thank you to all our team and everyone we work with. We’re doing something wonderful.

And to everyone else stopping by my little blog, have a wonderful Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate. No doubt 2017 brought its challenges but I hope that, when you step back and look at what you did this year, you see progression, something fun or that you know you have laid the groundwork for something fun in the future. Find the victories and allow yourself to acknowledge them and enjoy them for what they are, no matter how big or small.

Have a fantastic break and I wish everyone the best for 2018!

Oh, one last thing. The Fluffy Gardens Christmas Special is airing on RTE 2 on Christmas Morning. The 11th year running! Quite a Christmas tradition now.

Post

I remember this phrase from back when I was making commercials (a LONG time ago now) and I’m sure it is still one in very common use. We’ll fix it in post – shorthand for: let’s push the problem down the line and let someone else (or our future selves who may as well be someone else) handle it.

It isn’t just fixing a mistake in post-production either. There are many versions of this. Fixing your flow problems in the edit. Hoping your inbetweens will improve dodgy key animation. Letting your story problems through and hoping to fix them in animatic stage. Compared with some of those, “we’ll fix it in post” isn’t actually so bad.

The more fundamental the stage, the more you simply can’t rely on fixing it down the line. I don’t know if I have ever seen a scenario in my entire career where it has been easier to fix a problem later rather than fixing it right now in its earlier form. Once you build in problems, well, you’ve built in problems. You’ll face enough unforeseen difficulties when making anything that throwing foreseen ones on top could be an absolute disaster.

If something isn’t quite working, fix it now. Don’t fix it in post or anywhere else. Don’t shove the problem down the line or allow it to be next week’s problem. It rarely ends well. I’d say it never ends well except someone will probably hit me with a single example where it worked out okay. Don’t take that chance.

Clarity

I just took to Twitter to express my dismay at a particular “learn animation” ad that keeps popping up on my Facebook feed and, well, now it’s going to be a whole post. Hopefully a short one. Here is my issue with that particular ad that reckons it will teach you to animate: the very first pose it opens with is incredibly unclear. It does not sell what is actually happening to the character. It fails at communicating the idea.

Pretty drawings don’t matter if what is happening is unclear. And it’s not just animation. A lovely storyboard panel is no good if what is happening is unclear. A funny line is wasted if your story is unclear and you’re losing your audience. Clarity is everything.

This is especially true when making any kind of content for young children. No matter what part of the process you are in, this is about communication – engaging kids, telling them stories, bringing them into stories and making them feel a part of them. Communication. And if your communication is unclear, if you don’t give them enough context or information or you muddle your ideas visually or otherwise, you’re not going to engage them as well as you should.

It’s the first thing you should ask yourself: is this clear to my audience?

So while it applies to every part of the process, when it comes to learning animation, I’ll take a scrappy yet clear drawing over a pretty yet unclear one every single time.