11th Jun 2014


Besides saving the world on an ongoing basis from evil alien empires, natural disasters and super villians… oh wait thats not me.


After being bitten by a radioactive spider… Nope, that’s not me either... Ah! My supersuit! … Hmmmm... No... Ahhh, mutation! That’s it! I’m a mutant!... Well, that just sounds wrong!


Focus Stephen… I need to make this clear otherwise people will get all confused.


Ah thats it! In order to make my millions so I can find a house with a large cave underneath, get a butler, a fancy car and theoretically spend 30 hours a day in the gym (yes I said 30 hours a day, because thats actually the amount of time Batman would need to be able to do the things he does) I need get to clarity because clarity drives me forward, where as you can see confusion halts me.


Or to make it clearer:


“Confusion halts me while clarity drives me forward.”


Its a fundamental rule that once we know what we have to do (clarity) we can go and do it and when we don’t (confusion) we tend to drift or stay in an endless loop.


Lets put this in context. Last week whilst (look at me using fancy words) working on one of our own interactive projects I was given a script for a video piece to go into it. Now the writer of this script is a very accomplished writer and I was already told that what had been given to me was more of an outline than an actual script, but me (wanting to get started and actually do some drawing because its been just that long) jumped right in and tried to do some rough storyboards. However after a few minutes I was lost and in my head I was thinking “Has it been that long since I have done anything like this that I have actually just forgotten everything I ever learned!?”


Then came the fear! Now I am resigned to excel spreadsheets, word docs, and pdfs for the rest of my life!... A sudden sadness came over me.


So in Treehouse Republic fashion, I asked for help and who came to my rescue only our resident Big Hairy Burrito Eating Cowboy Creative Director Graham. So myself and Graham sat down to look at the script. Very soon I realised that this script was actually just a broad outline and that we had no clarity on what needed to be done. So we created some, and with that we knew our next action and took the next steps.


What was amazing here was that once I had clarity I felt I could actually make progress - I knew what needed to be done and most of all I knew that I hadn’t forgotten everything I had learned. I just hadn’t got all the info I needed and I was skipping ahead to the part I knew to do without making sure everything was clear.

Put simply, I knew I had to do some rough storyboards and that was the one piece of clear information I had given myself so it became an anchor for me. But because the information for the actual storyboards wasn’t there I got confused and relied on the one piece of information that I did have: ‘Do storyboards’.


How does this relate to animation? Well its all about communication and doing your part of the job right. Most animated projects require a large number of people doing different jobs. Everyone’s part of the pipeline is as important as the next, so its up to everyone to make sure that the person before you has clearly given you the information you require and you respect the skills of the person after you enough to do the same for them.


This also works for life in general, not just animation. For example a large radioactive monster is rampaging through your city. Well lets get clarity!!


Q:  First off what do you need to do?

A:  Save yourself, your girlfriend, your kids, your dog and those really expensive markers you got years ago but never use ‘cause you don't want to waste them.


Q: Okay how do you do that?

A: Get as far away from the monster as possible.


Q: What's the best way to do that

A: Helicopter


Q: Can you fly a helicopter

A: No


Q: What’s the next best option

A: Car


And then you get in the car and drive away.


Now think what would happen if in that same situation you got confused and stayed that way. You would probably run around in circles screaming and next thing you know, you’re radioactive monster lunch.


So remember:


Confusion halts me while clarity drives me forward.


Next week:

How many burritos can Graham actually eat?