Or: Kids these days!
When I am doing timing for storyboards my typical setup is Final Cut Pro. I get the audio and the still images from the board and pace out the show based on the acting in the audio track. I will add sound effects if required and occasionally the odd piece of music as a temp track to help detail out the timing that I am trying to express.
What I don’t have going on when I am doing this is the following:
Movies or TV shows of any kind.
There is of course the background noise of the studio or home life that is going on around me. Generally this can be ignored while I am working. It’s kind of a Zen thing for me I think. Years ago when I was hanging out at University someone gave me a book on Zen Philosophy. Can’t remember the name of the book but it was a small 40 something page thing that had a sentence and a drawing on each page. It went kind of like this. “When you brush your teeth”… Turn the page…”Brush your teeth”. Next page. “When you wash the Dishes.” Next… “Wash the dishes.” Silly sounding I know but this has served me well over the years.
When I first started in Animation I had a job that required little creative thinking or deep attention in order to be productive at. In this case I would get audio books out of the Library and listen to them at work. It was fine because my attention didn’t need to be focused on what was directly in front of me. I didn’t have to worry about things like timing, pacing, story elements or dramatic context. I only had to worry if the paint was in the lines.
When I walk around a studio today I am always impressed by how the young animators can have all the above things going on and still seem to produce work. I wonder how much better that work could be if they had none of these distractions?
I recently finished reading a book called “The Theater of the Mind”. Written by Jay Ingram. The book is about the search for what is Consciousness and what scientists are doing in the area of research now and in the past. There was one part that struck me. It has been discovered that our ability to retain information versus the data coming into our minds is extremely limited. If you think in terms of bits of data our sensory input devices (ears, eyes, touch) create amounts in the millions of bits entering our head every second. But the conscious mind can only perceive less than 1 millionth of this information every second. Between the subconscious and conscious portions your brain decides what is important at any given moment to be perceived but it still can’t be any bigger that this amount. This is partly why it is easier to remember a 7 digit number than it is a ten or more digit number. The conscious mind has limits. The 7-bit rule can be lengthened by the perception of a series of information being created into a single bit of memory, like the area code for a phone number. Even though it is three digits we perceive it as a single piece of information. There are ways to train the mind into perceiving larger series of data into small bits in order to seemingly remember more. Chess players have this because of the amount of time spent in memorizing patterns of pieces on a board and seeing this as a whole instead of the individual parts. This makes twenty pieces remembered as one bit of data.
I have a challenge for those of you that are doing a heavily creative type of process in the world of animation. If you work with having all the above things going on at the same time that you are doing the job, make a note of how much work you get done versus the amount of retakes you get. Then on the second week turn off everything and only have on the things you absolutely need to do the job. Make notes of how much work you did versus how many retakes you get back. As a second thing try and remember how you felt about the passage of time in both of these cases.
Let me know what your findings are!
When you brush your teeth…