March 26, 2011
PERFECTIONISM LEADS TO PROCRASTINATION
Over the past year or so Lifehacker.com has quickly become one of my favorite sites I try to hit once a day. They have all sorts of helpful little tips about technology and other nerd related activities which I enjoy, but every once in a while they'll post an article about something that inspires daily application; hence the name of the site.
Today I came across an article they posted entitled How Perfectionism Can Lead to Procrastination (and What to Do About It). It's a great little read and you can check it out here.
I could be wrong but I think it can be especially easy for us animators to fall into this trap. Our work is constantly being evaluated, judged, and revised that through the course of a show we experience many highs and lows to meet the needs of our clients and directors. This article helped remind me that trying to make my shots perfect on the first go-round probably isn't the best strategy for success.
When I started working at Blue Sky Studios on Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs I really struggled at first. The first couple of months, I got my ass kicked. Big time! It was my first "real" industry gig and I was wasting so much time trying to make every single pose and every single action perfect that I began to miss my deadlines. Certainly in a studio like Blue Sky there is a tremendous amount of pressure, but one of the many valuable lessons I learned during that time was this: "Fail fast." In other words, get something (within context) in front of the director as soon as possible. Don't try to be a mind reader. Let the director direct you. Give them something to work with. Otherwise you're probably going to end up wasting a ton of time.
I remember having a conversation on this same subject with a fellow animator and great friend of mine, Sheldon Kruger. We were talking one day about our approach when assigned multiple consecutive shots in a sequence. What Sheldon realized was it's a waste of time to think you can focus on one shot and try to make it look perfect, even in blocking, and expect to have enough time to hit the other shots by the deadline. His solution: Do something on all the shots, even if you know it's not perfect.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn. It seems so counter productive but it works. Hopefully this will help someone out there. If you ever catch yourself thinking this way...STOP IT!