Why am I yelling at myself?

Ever heard of the ‘beautifully shaded penny‘?  It comes from Pixar and in short is the idea that in the corner of a room in the corner of a scene is a penny on a desk that someone has put hours into making look perfect.  Same principle applies when making any animation.  Where do you draw the line between what matters (i.e. what the audience will see) and what doesn’t.

This can be difficult for creative people.  There is often a driving ambition to make every element of a scene look amazing.  It’s usually while you’re putting the finishing touches on a pen that sits in the characters pocket and is 98% obscured by the pocket that the executive producer walks in and asks why your timesheet has 3 weeks allocated to working on a pen that no one will ever see.

Being a freelancer or small business, one often has to be one’s own executive producer.  On small projects, you’ll likely find yourself both shading the penny and yelling at yourself for wasting 3 days shading the penny.

That’s why it’s important to break up your day and really reflect on job before you start it, while you’re doing it and when you finish it.  How important is the pen (or in my case, whale)?  Does the whale make the scene better?  Tell the story more efficiently?  Supply much needed creative fulfillment that has nothing to do with the clients goals?

If you can split your personality a bit and start asking yourself these questions more frequently – you’ll become a better artist and a better executive producer.