I’ve been a freelance video producer, editor, shooter and dp for almost 12 years now. It wasn’t until a little after being in that first class of Animation Bootcamp about 3 years ago, that I realized the power of personal projects.
I love to dive in with the intention of a 15 minute project because it almost frees you from the idea of something having to be done (unless you want it to be done). I’ve only done 3 of them so far and none of them have been stuck strictly to 15 minutes. I embrace the idea that I haven’t had any of them stick strictly to 15 minutes. I’m ok with wondering past the time limit. My understanding of the original purpose of 15minmograph was to give us as animators and designers the practice on working quickly and efficiently, if you’re trying to beat the clock it really forces you to work that way. The cool thing that I experienced through all three of these though is that even after I passed that 15 minutes, I kept up that pace because I didn’t want to be TOO FAR over that 15.
Walk me through Jordan thinking, planning, animating, maybe messing up, starting over, and so on. Also, do you ever stop at the 15 minute mark? Does the 15 minute mark represent a basic goal and help to at least get in the program?
As far as the ideation phase, the few times I’ve done it, I’ve had a basic idea of what I’m going for. Other than this last one I’ve completed the initial animation and execution of that idea within 15 minutes then any extra time was devoted to compositing and texturing. I know that I’ll be releasing these little bits on Dribbble, Instagram (possibly Vimeo) etc. so, I would rather take a little extra time to give it a little more of a finished aesthetic. I’m still accomplishing the original goal of actively trying to work more efficiently so, who really cares if it didn’t take 15 minutes. I suppose there could be something to say about the timer beeping then throwing up your hands and saying this is what I’ve got. If you make a conscious effort of sticking with these exercises regularly it can give you some kind of meter on how your efficiency and speed is progressing. This method doesn’t work so well for that kind of monitoring, however it’s a craft and I don’t have a producer or client telling me to stop — which is often the case for me professionally!
Well, I haven’t started over on any of these because the only requirement I’m holding myself to is reaching that 15 minute mark. If I get done and I don’t feel compelled to try and texture and composite then that means I don’t like what I’ve got. I, just like all of us, am looking to impress because I want to get the opportunity to work with amazingly talented people. So, if I don’t think it’s any good I surely am not going to post it. In the end though what’s it matter? I just spent 15 MINUTES on a piece that I won’t show anyone, but it’s 15 minutes that I was designing and key-framing that I wouldn’t have spent otherwise… WIN WIN!
What does your research look like? What places do you frequent for inspiration?
Just like any boot-camper, that took Joey and Michael’s words to heart, I use the “SOM Traditional” routes for inspiration. That’s Instagram, Dribbble, A LOT of Vimeo, Motionographer and then catalogue everything I dig onto my Pinterest page. It’s become a super easy habit for me to get into because well, quite frankly it’s a productive form of procrastination day in and day out from a day job that can get quite monotonous for long stretches.
Do you ever find yourself starting a project, one that actually pays, by setting a stop watch for 15 minutes and then brainstorming as fast as possible?
I’ve never done this approach for client work. My gut reaction is that, for my particular style that wouldn’t work as well. For a client I need to really have time to soak in the possible directions that will work well for the particular situation (or style) I’m presented with. Although some of these skills are applicable, you must be a little more deliberate and thoughtful of what you are creating. That’s not to say that there’s not a load of great stuff that can still come from experimenting in the development phase of client work. However, I need to stick to a set of procedures of compiling research and saturating my brain with the parameters of a project (i.e. color palette, branded fonts, the clients current brand guide etc…) before allowing myself to experiment with potential designs or movements. In saying all that, I could see how after you’ve gotten through you’re initial research and saturation phase, you could utilize the 15min technique. For example, say I hop into photoshop and begin designing. Maybe you set the clock, design a frame, then repeat that process a few more times.
As I’m thinking about this, I realize that it contradicts my approach to using 15 minmograph as a practice tool. However, when using the 15 minutes as a tool for development on client work I would strictly adhere to the clock! The reason being is that at this point in the process, you aren’t looking for a finished product rather several different ideas to jump off from. So, if you set the clock and move onto the next one within an hour you’ve got 4 different designs. From here, you’ve got a basket full of designs to pull different elements from that you can jump off from to create 3 different style frames for client choices. Again, it might help alleviate that pressure of creating the perfect design off the bat. You’re just trying to pull something out of your research saturated brain in 15 minutes. It doesn’t need to be good! I can envision that being super helpful and I might give it a whirl on the next project I’ve got!
Really though, 15 minutes is NOTHING in our world! How many times have all of us sat down to work, blink once then look up and it’s two hours later. When you’re constantly focused on creating, fine tuning and problem solving, 15 minutes seems to be the equivalent of 30 seconds in the real world! However, if you do what a lot of us are doing and keep working on a project past that 15 minutes, I can see how it can become a little more daunting to think that you can keep up with a consistent routine. At that point though just like you said, it’s ok to make something crappy. Yesterday I spent an hour on 15minmograph today I’ll only spend 15 minutes. But you made something today and that’s all that really matters.
If you’re already working in motion graphics daily, then why should you do creative work outside for fun or practice?
I very rarely show off my client work to the outside world it’s almost ALL my personal stuff. (I want that to change-I want to be booked for projects that I’m proud of and EXCITED about.) I’ve still got friends in the live action side of the business that always complain about not having good clients and fulfilling work, don’t get me wrong, I still do that on occasion, but it’s FAR less frequently. I feel for the first time in my professional career as though the power is in my hands to shape what kind of work I will be doing in the future and that’s all because I have FINALY began to put time and effort into personal projects and have stopped waiting for “the perfect client”. Heads up, they don’t exist except for those dedicated and fortunate few that have put in they’re due diligence on personal projects for YEARS and YEARS to be in the position of being called for WHAT THEY DO. When I say personal projects I don’t just mean the ones that take a few months to complete but, also these little snippets and practice shots. They’re all digestible bits that you can present to the world. This whole subject has been a HUGE revelation for me and quite invigorating. I am far from the spot I want to be but, I finally feel a sense of confidence about my future in the creative community because of this one thing.
“This exercise seems to take all the pressure of sitting down to create something good, cause that’s not the point, it’s just to create.”
What would you say that could encourage others to adapt this mentality?
I think once you realize the kind of mindset that this kind of exercise puts you in, you can easily recognize the opportunity it gives you. If you see that and still don’t feel compelled to put your work in and practice personally, I don’t think anyone’s words will sway you other wise.
I believe the 15 minute exercise is perfect… Not feeling inspired? Just get in and animate for 15 minutes. That’s been the case for me on all three of these. This last one took so long because within those 15 minutes I got an idea in my head and I remembered Zac’s brilliant little technique; why not internalize that simple but powerful little bit. Then, sure enough an hour goes by and I’m fully devoted to this tiny little project. This exercise seems to take all the pressure of sitting down to create something good, cause that’s not the point, it’s just to create.
And that mindset is liberating when you’re in the middle of a boarder line factory producing type gig of creating 30 some videos that are all the same. What’s Joey say? 30 for the meal 1 for the reel? That’s not right…
Side Note: 15 minmograph can be a killer form of procrastination as well!