Monday, December 21, 2009

Carlos Baena on Feedback

I'm re-blogging Carlos Baena's really insightful post on feedback. Really well written and gets to the heart of both giving and receiving feedback. This process is very much a learned skill and this should serve as a great reminder in how to give and receive it graciously.

One thing I'll point out is the mention of mentioning what's working. It's not only good for morale, but to know what's strong. Ultimately, every piece can be critiqued until the end of time...animation is never perfect, but again...great post!

Feedback is quite a delicate part of what we do. Sometimes animators take it well and other times not so well. Over the years, I've come to learn that without feedback, my shots or anything I do would look like complete crap. Getting some fresh eyes on what it is that we do, really helps, especially when you are staring at your same shot for days and/or weeks.

I noticed people give feedback in some ways. I'm not writting here about how to give feedback...but instead, some pointers that may make the process a little easier.

  • First, does the animator want feedback? Are you confortable giving feedback to a person? If you are not, then don't. However, if the animator is open for suggestions, that's a great quality as it shows he or she wants to improve the shot.
  • Also, the feedback should be honest. I always go to particular animators at work, that I know will be direct on their feedback, and will not pull any punches. If I want to improve as an animator, I need that.
  • Not all feedback is about things to correct in the shot. Even if the shot needs a lot of work, it's nice when someone brings up something that is actually working.
  • Make the feedback constructive. Doesn't help to hear "That looks wrong" or "That area seems off". Instead, find ways to let them know how to fix it. Maybe the up/down curve could be smoothed out...or hold that pose there a little longer so that we read it.
  • What kind of feedback are you passing? Is it feedback that will improve the shot based on what the animator has in there already, or is it feedback that will make it different? Big differences.
  • I think it's important to respect the animators idea/choices. I would not want to give a friend feedback that will completely change their acting choices, unless they ask for it. Also, it's important to remember that this is their shot. Not my shot. Helps to keep that in mind.
  • I think it's important to get feedback from a few people. It doesn't matter how much I like the choice/acting I put in there. If two or more people agree that something in there is not working, then it's important to re-evaluate the shot, and consider to re-block that section.
  • Something that matters also is when the feedback is given. It's not the same to give feedback when the animator is just starting to work on it as opposed to the day the animator is supposed to final that shot.
  • If a shot is in the early early stages of blocking, then feedback related to the actual ideas, acting choices or overall staging of the character will be useful knowing a lot of the work in the shot is still very rough, and it's easy to change.
  • However, if your shot is about to be finaled, you are adding some of the polish...and someone tells you, to have your character walking slowly instead of running, it can really set you back. It helps to show often to get feedback, or if you don't, be ready to get feedback that may change your shot a 180 degrees.
  • So usually, if the shot is closed to being finaled, most of the feedback I'll offer is related to small polish things that may help the shot...arcs, pops, subtleties, keep alive areas...
  • It's important to know that getting feedback is about improving a shot, and not judging the animators skills. Some of my early blocking looks very crappy. However, at that stage I can care less about how the curves looks...what I'm concerned about is whether my ideas are good or even worth it.
  • Ultimately, the Director has the final say in a shot. So you can get all the feedback you want from peers, but at the end of the day, you are working towards helping the Director realize his/her vision.

I hope this helps.


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