Archive for October, 2008

1st Blocking pass for AM Class 3

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

My Blocking for Class 3.

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

So here it is! Blocking for my pantomime shot. I ran through a gamut of ideas, roadblocks, doubts on this assignment. And its only been the 2nd week of class 3! My new mentor Nick Bruno is awesome thus far. I guess I’ll post what current idea I’m really jazzed about and what will probably end up being my assignment for the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Interesting article about Glen Keane and Rapunzel on Cartoon Brew.

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Link to Cartoon Brew article

I’m a bit on the fence on this topic because I know how it can feel like to be attached to a piece of work for such a long time. 7 years is pretty nuts to not have a film come outta story phase. I’m just glad that hes now the Animation Director. It just might be that age old problem with corporations.

One story that rings in my head was a nurse who had become a supervising nurse and enjoying the new salary bump and perks that go with the job. However she admitted to really missing just contact with the patients and how shes grown so far away from that now that she has management duties. Perhaps Keane can have a few shackles taken off his limbs and just concentrate on making this his artistic masterpiece. Look dev looks great, and I’m sure a legion of animators would follow him to the ends of the earth under his guidance.

Lasseter has employed the shakedown before. And its seemed to work. I mean thats the point of growth right? It ain’t pretty all the time, but sometimes the end result could be all worthwhile.

Speaking of Lasseter. Here is something I saw posted.. AGES ago. Here it is copied and pasted from an interview.

1. Never come up with just one idea. “Regardless of whether you want to write a book, design a piece of furniture or make an animated movie: At the beginning, don’t start with just one idea – it should be three.

“The reason is simple. If a producer comes to me with a proposal for a new project, then usually he has mulled over this particular idea for a very long time. That limits him. My answer always reads: ‘Come again when you have three ideas, and I don’t mean one good and two bad. I want three really good ideas, of which you cannot decide the best. You must be able to defend all three before me. Then we’ll decide which one you’ll realise.’

“The problem with creative people is that they often focus their whole attention on one idea. So, right at the beginning of a project, you unnecessarily limit your options. Every creative person should try that out. You will be surprised how this requirement suddenly forces you to think about things you hadn’t even considered before. Through this detachment, you suddenly gain new perspectives. And believe me, there are always three good ideas. At least.”

My comment: Being forced to produce at least three quality ideas allows a creator to detach from the first solution – and helps gain new perspectives and find additional solutions. When you work on any creative project, develop at least three good solutions. Leonardo da Vinci applied the same principle in his work, for example in his anatomical drawings, by sketching parts of the human body from at least three different perspectives. At Thinkergy, we’ve integrated this principle into our method, too. In Stage D (Development) of our X-IDEA Creative Process, every participant needs to develop at least three meaningful solutions. Only then can you start having choices.

2. Remember the first laugh. “A big problem in the creative process is related to the enhancement of your ideas,” cautions Mr Lasseter. “Revising, retouching, refining is very important, but it carries a danger.

“If you have a story, a joke, a thought, which you write down, it loses its effect over time. It wears itself out. When you hear a joke for the second time you still laugh heartily, on the third or fourth occasion already less so, and when you hear it the hundredth time, you hate it.

“I say to my authors: ‘Take notice of the first laugh, write it down if necessary.’ This may at times be bothersome, but it is important. Many times, good things got lost because people could not remember anymore how it felt when they heard the idea for the first time.”

My comment: In a brainstorming session, highlight an idea that makes you (and other brainstormers in your team) laugh spontaneously (e.g. by adding an asterisk behind the idea or by underlining it). Then, capture all the very funny ideas on a separate note that you keep handy for review in later stages of the creative process. As already noted by David Ogilvy, the “father of advertising”: “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

3. Quality is a great business plan. Period. “There is a crucial rule: no compromises. No compromises on quality – regardless of production constraints, cost constraints, or a deadline. If you get a better idea, and this means that you have to start again from scratch, then that’s what you have to do.

“In any creative industry, quality is the sole business plan that prevails in the long run. Many managers fail to understand that, but the spectators understand it. The process is only finished once the creative professional in charge says it’s finished. That does not mean that there isn’t to be any pressure – there’s pressure all the time anyway – but the individual creator always needs to have the last word.”

My comment: Don’t rush an innovation project toward premature implementation or final closure. Great creative work follows its own time. Trust the intuitive judgment of the creative team member in charge of the creative task. If the solution does not feel right, don’t implement or launch it yet. The right solution needs to be beautiful, as Richard Buckminster Fuller advocates: “When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”

In two weeks’ time, we will continue this article with the remaining four creative principles of Pixar. Then, John Lasseter will share with you the secrets of his successful creative leadership approach and talk about innovation-friendly cultural factors at Pixar.

4. It’s the team, stupid. “One of the most popular questions is always whether groups are more creative than individuals. My answer: In most cases, it’s the team – provided you follow certain rules”, says Mr Lasseter. “As a manager, it is my task to abolish hierarchies. It doesn’t matter at all who has the idea; that’s a very important rule for us. The group must be honest, direct, and endeavour to sincerely help the creative individual. But in the end, nothing that the group says is binding”.

My comment: Make sure that everyone in your company understands that innovation is a team sport. Complement your most creative brains with a complementing team of pragmatic implementers, and encourage creatives to push through a controversial idea if it intuitively feels right. “I’ve learned to trust our gut. If it feels right, we just go with it,” notes Mr Lasseter.

5. Fun invokes creativity, not competition. “There is this idea that you put two people, who cannot stand each other, into a room, hoping that all this negative energy leads to a creative result. I disagree. Co-operation, confidence and fun – that is the way”, says Mr Lasseter. He emphasises the complex managerial challenge to successfully motivate creative employees, and to create a climate conducive for creativity. “Creative people must believe that all others support them in making a great movie. They need to believe that all people involved understand what they talk about. Creative people are easily bored, moody, a bit difficult to handle. You have to make it fun for them, care for them. Creative people only produce really good work if you creatively challenge them. They have to like what they’re working on. They have to be damn proud of the fact that they’re a part of a particular project. That is again the task of the manager. Each time, you have to give them creative challenges. That’s difficult, but nobody said it is easy to lead creative people.”

My comment: An innovation-friendly culture is at the heart of the world’s leading innovation firms such as Pixar, Google, Apple, and so on. Among other cultural dimensions, organisational factors such as trust and mutual care, a playful and relaxing work environment, and challenging creative work projects drive these companies to innovation success and excellence. Countless studies have investigated the connection between motivation and creativity, and they all arrived at the same conclusion: Creative professionals are motivated intrinsically, not extrinsically. This means that managers cannot simply use financial incentives or similar extrinsic motivators to “bribe” creative people into producing great creative achievements. The popular shortcut of the extrinsic carrot-or-stick approach does not work with creative employees. Creative professionals only produce awesome creations if you provide them with creative challenges that they perceive as inspiring, enthusing, meaningful and rather difficult to achieve.

6. Creative output always reflects the person on top. “Poor managers harm the creative process,” as John Lasseter knows from personal experience. After landing his dream job as animator at the Disney Animation Studios in the late seventies, his outspoken individuality and creative extravaganzas quickly made him enemies among mediocre middle managers at Disney. Within a few years, Mr Lasseter became a victim of internal politics and got fired.

Committed to go his own way, Mr Lasseter became one of the founders of Pixar in 1986. Twenty years later, following Pixar’s acquisition by The Walt Disney Company, Mr Lasseter returned in triumph as chief creative officer of both animation studios.

“Laughter, being crazy, freaking out, behaving in ridiculous manner are hard work. A manager who spreads his bad mood and who forbids his employees to have fun impairs their creativity, and thus harms the enterprise. I would fire him. Animated movies are not least a bang-hard business. I cannot risk so much money, only because a manager indulging in his bad mood harms my business.”

My comment: A fish always rots from the head, as they say. A creative team or an innovation project should be led by a creative leader who is visionary, participative, action-oriented, positive, inspirational and leads by giving example.

7. Surround yourself with creative people whom you trust. Being an accomplished creative leader, John Lasseter gives some direct advice to junior creative leaders in progress. “Bring only those new members into your creative team, whom you consider to be at least as talented as you. If they also have a pleasant and nice character – even better.

Most managers don’t follow this approach, as they are insecure. Insecurity and creativity do not get along with each other well. Most managers surround themselves with yes-men, and in result, the audiences get bad films to see,” explains Mr Lasseter.

My comment: Put an authentic creative leader to spearhead a creative team or innovation effort. How can you identify such a person? Authentic creative leaders such as John Lasseter or his role model Walt Disney lead by example. They walk their talk. Their subordinates trust and respect them because they can demonstrate their skills and abilities.

Creative people intuitively feel if the track record and experience of their leader is genuine – or is just a facade. Truly authentic creative leaders hire only the best people into their team. They dislike yes-men and want creative talents who challenge the existing process, the other team members and – most importantly – themselves. In that way, they ensure that their team, the organisation and their own personality continue to grow.