This project has been an eye-opener in many ways. I started this specialist study with the intention of focusing on character animation and acting, wanting to really push myself as an animator to achieve something more fluid and technically advanced than I have done in previous years, as well as to gain a deeper understanding of the principles of animation and acting through narrative. However, as noble a goal as this was, I vastly underestimated that time it would take me to animate to such a degree of detail and as a result only managed to produce 12 seconds of animation that didn’t even complete the fight scene I originally intended. This was partly due to me being unpractised at drawing straight onto Flash with a detached graphics tablet, as well as my meticulous perfectionism that kept cropping up despite my attempts to work more roughly. But the truth is I honestly believe that this has been a worthwhile experience, and I actually feel like I’ve learnt more from taking my time and sticking to the focus of my specialist study rather than ploughing ahead in a desperate struggle to complete the piece on time regardless of quality.
All my previous projects have suffered from time constraints; the inevitable corner cutting and rushed editing that comes before deadlines resulting in ‘finished’ pieces that I could never really be proud of. My strengths lie in narrative based animation and I hope to make a short film for my final piece in Specialist Study 2, but at the start of this year I had little inkling as how to go about that or plan my time in order to achieve a completed goal at industry standard. So in order to properly prepare myself (as I told that was the true purpose of Specialist Study 1) I decided to go through the development process of storyboarding and character design as though I was planning a narrative for Specialist Study 2 and would have more time. Granted there was no way I could ever finish it all in just ten weeks, but through doing this I’ve learned how long each stage of planning should take me and what I’m required to do before I start animating. Had I have taken another path for my first Specialist Study, I just know that come next year I would waste ¾ of my project time dithering over the developmental stage and never get round to animating anything decent since I’d have no idea how long it would take me to animate at high quality. Due to my work on this project I now know the speed at which I’m able to animate, as well as becoming far more skilled drawing directly into Flash with a tablet thanks to the practice, and will be able to plan my time better in order to complete a finished film next year. I’m also pleased with the outcome of the part of the fight scene I did manage to finish this time round: while I’m aware there will always be ways to improve it, I think it’s by far the best thing I’ve animated to date on this course. I’m glad I was able to push myself to this level by taking the time and care to add all the little details and secondary animation to the main movement, and I feel like I’ve improved my character animating skills significantly through my studies and practice. I also feel I have achieved my goal of loosing up, as my initial sketches to work out the basic action were much messier and quicker to draw than usual (before I cleaned them up, of course), and I think my lines of action became a lot more varied and flexible as a result, leading to more dynamic key frames. Hopefully I can only get better in the future as I continue, and preferably speed up my work pace in the process.