Agreeing To Do Work That You Don’t Know How To Do And Quickly Learning How To Do It.
THE SIMPSONS NEWS – Agreeing To Do Work That You Don’t Know How To Do And Quickly Learning How To Do It.
- Aim low. Aim so low that no one will even care if you succeed. ~ Marge Simpson
When the opportunity presents itself, to do something that you haven’t done before artistically, take it.
Over my years on The Simpsons, I’ve had opportunities to work on other Simpsons things besides the show.
Sometime I accept to do work I’ve never done even though I tell the person I have. Especially if I know I can learn to do it quickly.
It’s a little trick I learned in my animation class in high school. Basically taking on a project that you don’t know how to do and then quickly learning how to do it.
What I’m going to be talking about this week is how I did this and ended up cleaning up a few scenes of a Church’s Chicken commercial.
You can watch the video of read the text below it. It’s practically the same thing. The only difference is that I posted some images from the scene I cleaned up. You can also see the final commercial below.
And make sure to scroll down and read about the special audio surprise I have in store for anyone who’s opted in to receive e-mails from me:
Advice From My High School Animation Class
I used to go to a regional occupational program (ROP) in a different high school from mine. There they taught animation. The teacher in that high school was very well connected to the animation industry and that’s where I got my start.
One of the big pieces of advice our teacher gave us was, if someone asked us if we could do something artistically and if we knew that it would be possible for us to learn how to do it but we didn’t know how to do it yet, we should say, “yes” to the job.
“Oh yeah, I could do that. No problem,” and then very quickly go learn to do it. that isn’t to say that you should do something so out of your skill set that there’s no way for you to learn how to do it. but agree to something that your reasonably certain that you’ll be able to do.
How I Ended Up Doing This
This is an example of what I did many years ago as I was doing Character Layout on The Simpsons. I was on the show for about five or six year by that point. There was a producer I didn’t know that just walked into my cubicle, perhaps by recommendation. He introduced himself and then asked me,
“Can you do clean up?”
And I’d never done clean up. All I had done at that point was Character Layout and that’s a very different skill set. I had also animated and inbetweened but I hadn’t ever done any clean up. Nothing that I had done up to this point required me to clean up my roughs in any final way.
Well, I knew how to inbetween so I didn’t think it would be that difficult to do clean up. So I said,
“Oh yeah, I know how to do clean up.”
So he says,
“Oh good, because I have this giant stack of drawings. Can you clean this up by this date next week?”
“Oh yeah, I do that all the time,” He smiled, thanked me and waked away.
As soon as he was gone I went into complete panic mode because I hadn’t done any clean, ever.
Crash Course Time
“Dude, you have to have lunch with me TODAY. You got to tell me everything you know about doing clean up.”
That day I drove over to Disney, we went to the his desk, he showed me what he was doing and how he did it and basically gave me a lesson on clean up during lunch.
Then I came back to the studio and started working on the clean up job.
It turned out fine. It was good work. I did a professional quality clean up job.
I had enough experience at that point to be able to pull something like that off. Learning clean up wasn’t too far off from my general experience that I didn’t know what I was doing. It turned out I knew how to do it well.
There’s more to clean up than just pretty lines. It’s also doing good inbetweens AND there was a part that I was asked to reanimate and time as well.
Clean up itself was just a skill I needed to know to round out my education and it wasn’t a big barrier.
I hope this is helpful and instructive.
Just remember, if you don’t know how to do a thing but you’re reasonably sure you’ll be able to learn it quickly and handle it, go ahead and accept the job. As long as you then quickly learn how to do it.
You get more experience that way. You learn more skills and your perceived value increases.
Here’s The Final Commercial:
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Sit in on an audio conversation with Simpsons artists.
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If you want to hear it, opt in before Thursday of next week and I’ll send it to you. Who knows, if everyone likes what they hear, there might be more to come.
MOVIES – Superman: Man of Steel
So Awesome. I hope it’s as good at the trailer makes it seem:
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