There are several ways how I could approach this essential article and I think the best way to start would be by saying that you should always try to eliminate things that limit you. Your habits and old believes might be preventing you from further progression. I used to be very limited in my thinking, I was very racional and always thought that a lot of theories about art were just made up bullshit. When I got rid of these chains I suddenly (and finaly) became so much better. Let me show you what I mean by having an open mind:
Point 1: It’s hard to fill a cup that’s already full.
Old saying with a great meaning. If you want to learn something new, you first have to let go of what you have learned so far (empty your cup) and be open to new possibilities, to take new information in. This way when you’ve been animating straight ahead your whole life, you are still able to let go of that approach and try pose to pose for a week for example and even if you don’t find yourself comfortable using the new approach you still gain a lot of experience and maybe you pick one or two things you like and incorporate those in your old workflow to enhance it. The same thing is when you start to draw a figure from the head down to the toes, you first have to let go of this approach and explore new ways of thinking.
Point 2: Drop the habit of judging.
Judging means that you don’t approve of something that is not aligned with your believes and therefore you think its wrong. Truth is that your believes might be wrong and by listening to them you are robbing yourself from so much improvement. Again, it’s all about limiting yourself. You see some article explaining how the animator used the technique of going into the skin of the character and that seems ridiculous to you? Well, maybe it really helped him do a great job, don’t judge something you haven’t properly tried yourself.This doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to do everything you see, just give things a try, don’t sweat it, animation/life should be fun afterall.
Point 3: 1+1=2
Everybody knows that 1+1=2. And everybody knows that 2 is greater than 1, so why is it that so many people get so protective about their work when someone else is trying to help them by offering a solution or a new way to approach the issue. Why is it so hard for us to accept other peoples ideas and opinions, why do we want to do it all by ourselfs? Well, of course I used to be guilty of this myself, but I have realized that by not being open to others opinions I was depriving myself and my work for that matter. Don’t be like that. Open your mind, open yourself to the world, to the people and their ideas, there’s nothing bad about implementing someone elses idea into your animation, it was their intention to help you in the first place! And don’t worry about the tiny little voice in your head saying „You are not good enough to do it yourself? You knew it, you suck, be prepared for all the people will soon realize it too and will hate you for it“ That’s not going to happen, actually the very oposite will happen, everybody loves people that are open and accept the input. Thinking the oposite is a limitting believe and you should consider getting rid of it.
Point 4: Try to listen before you speak
And by the way, listening doesn’t mean quitely staring and assembling your next sentence in your head. Just listen. Assume the mindset that every conversation can give you the next great idea or the next great breakthrough. People will like you more and you will be amazed by how much better you can get just by talking to someone. Once you adopt this mindset, avalanches of ideas will visit you everyday.
Point 4: Resistance = pain
Lets get a bit deeper. Whenever something or someone is in resistance it creates pain and stress. I think a little ilustration of some people switching from 2D to 3D might take this idea home.
Basically if you are in resistance to something, you will suffer, no matter what. By being in resistance you automatically guide yourself to dislike the thing you are resisting, you are focusing on the negative aspect and you are asking dis-powering questions. If however you asked yourself a few good questions you might actually get rid of the pain and maybe be even excited to try the thing you resisted at first. I hear a lot of people resisting mocap or reference, I dont understand why. It’s such a great tool and to be honest, no one really cares how you do what you do, all the audience/players care about is the final result. Really, think about this.
Point 5: Question your believes.
What are the believes based on anyway? True facts? I don’t think so. Most likely you either match your believe to pain or pleasure. Maybe your believe is that you can only do 3D animation because you suck at drawing, you consider your drawing ability being bad and you accept is as a fact, but the fact is that you only assigned pain to the fact that your drawing results are not aligned with your expectations, think about it, would you really like 3D more if you could draw like Glen Keane? The same goes for oposite, maybe your believe is you are 2D animator in heart and you will never switch to 3D. Why would you limit yourself? Maybe you linked pain to the transition to 3D, maybe you feel comfortable where you are and you dont want to start from square one again. If you want to be trully great animator, you must become COMPLETE animator and that doesn’t mean focusing on one single aspect of the game, you have to be open to everything.
Tony Robbins has a theory about the wheel of life, try this for yourself. Draw a circle and by adding a few lines from the center to the edge create something that looks like a pizza, doesnt matter how much slices you create, 8 would be the best I think. Now assign something from animation to each slice (Animation principles, acting, animating characters, animating animals, lip sync, finger animation, storyboarding, portraying emotions, anything goes, even create more slices, trust me, it will be worth it) Now fill each slice with a percentage from 0-100% representing your current level (0 being complete newbie, 100 being best animator in the world) after you are done look at your most likely very odd shape and then imagine it being a wheel of your car, how fast do you think that car would be able to go? Would it be a smooth ride? Or would you be barely going?
Point 6: Reality and meaning.
I heard a very good line somewhere, it goes something like this – It doesn’t matter what happens to you, it only matters what you do about it. And this can be applied to anything, any talk, any article, any idea, any movie, basically anything. It doesn’t matter what you perceive, it only matters what meaning you give it. There is no objective reality, everybody has their own reality. For someone this article might be helpful, for someone this article might be ridiculous. It’s only up to you how you WANT to see it.
Open your mind to new information, new approaches and new possibilities. Don’t limit yourself.