Hi! My name is Evelyn. Some of you may already know me as I’ve helped you with fixing any issues with your Toyrig’s, answering questions about the courses, providing updates for Rounds, to name a few things. I’ve also been talking to Jorge about his new course: “Balancing your 3D animation career as a Warrior”. We’ve been talking for quite a while now of the purpose of this new course and approach so it provides the most benefit to all the Warriors.
Down below is an excerpt of a Q&A we had:
E: Why this new course and not another step by step 3D animation course?
J: I wanted to provide a lecture-based course that gave a clear view of the 3D animation business, an insight to what really happens behind the scenes (secrets if you will…), provide a clear path to finding work, the types of 3d animation work you may look for...
But not only that, there is an unspoken issue within this industry that slowly but surely is manifesting itself and surprisingly all this time that I’ve been teaching many have expressed stress, burnout, anxiety, and lack of motivation while animating. I get questions on this just as much as question on how to animate such and such. And it is important to ALWAYS take care of yourself, in order to be able to take care of your creations, and bring them to life. For me meditation and relaxation has really improved my creativity and refueled my passion for animation.
E: What do you think is the source of this?
J: First of all, we have to understand that the film/VFX/animation industry has created all of these years a culture mainly based on being production ready, or following orders, or satisfying the creative fulfillment of others. This same mentality is something that I’ve been noticing is not only part of the industry but of other institutions that provide courses and learning material to students, everything is so stagnant and fixed, like a production assembly line. A main reason why I always try to make AW courses, deadline free, and allow for creativity to be nurtured and manifested in a free, healthy and balanced state. Because your CREATIVITY is your unique identifier in a very competitive industry, it’s what makes you stand out.
E: For this course you also mentioned you would further discuss, real dilemmas one faces when managing teams and working for big productions. Can you share more?
J: A couple of years ago, I was a team leader for Studio X, and one of the spoken conditions we had with the supervisors and upper management was not to work overtime or during the weekends. This is because said Studio X didn’t pay that overtime. And there was this particular instance in which the project was delayed, due to changes and additional feedback, so the head of the studio and production asked us to start working overtime. This request was in a very blunt manner to the entire team of animators, requesting to stay late and put in more hours of work. But like I mentioned before, within the studio policies overtime hours were not paid, which of course created worries, concerns and unnecessary pressures to all the animators, who expressed their discomfort and fear to voice their opinion about this matter. As creatives, stress and ridiculous amounts of overtime obstructs our FLOW -creativity and performance as artists.
I decided to speak with the supervisor and voice our concerns, try to cut a better deal, at least be able to get payment for that overtime. Likewise, I had a series of conversations with production manager too, expressing that the team was reaching a point of burnout. Their response was that said overtime would be paid in the future with free time, but didn’t want to provide a written agreement, and to have everything remain verbal.
The animators were obviously tired and burned out, and still afraid to voice their opinions to upper management, being in a situation of having their hands tied or put their positions in danger. (We have to remember that we are humans NOT machines, Jorge voiced.) Therefore, I approached the directors and producers of the studio, who were the ones who first issued the overtime orders. They as well refused to change those policies, and pay for the overtime, or even provide a written agreement to ease the animators’ concerns. I had a series of conversations with them, while at the same time the team’s overall health was waning, with no positive agreement from them. At that time, I had to make the tough decision, to leave the studio and find a new path in life.
E: This really shows how important it is to find the right job for you, right?
J: Yes. To work with a studio that is also willing to listen, but at the same time it is important to communicate honestly and professionally your concerns, and to always try to open that channel of communication for your team, even if the results are not always as expected. When there’s a problem don’t stay quiet, and with a bit of luck things will work out, if not don’t fret other doors will open. Because it is important to have a healthy work environment, to always nurture your creative drive in a positive way and look after yourself and your team. I always suggest people to have at least 3 months’ worth of saving as this industry can be very volatile, constantly changing projects, teams, deadlines, cancellations, etc.
To be continued…
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