Making your own animation can be an ordeal, but it doesn’t have to be!
Hosts Mike and Matthew walk you through the challenges and pitfalls of producing independent animation, and share their advice on everything from scriptwriting to crowdfunding.
The Ottoman team has been working on this film project for a long time, and we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to put together high-caliber animation on a tiny budget. In 2015, we decided to launch a podcast, Animation Is Hard.
Each episode, director Mike Stamm and animator Matthew Krick discuss production tips, common storytelling pitfalls and how to avoid them, and advice for struggling freelance animators.
If you’re interested in animation directing/producing and want to learn more, check out the show and hear how we do it!
Follow us: @AnimationIsHard
The podcast returns after a long absence! Mike and Matthew devote this episode to the complex problem of burnout: how to recognize it, how to deal with it, and how to help others avoid it. They also touch on changing attitudes towards mental health over the last 20 years, and why quitting a job might not be as hard as it seems.
Also, the show has a new Twitter handle! Please follow us at @animationishard.
Animator Guen Goik chats with Mike and Matthew about how to continue improving yourself as an animator once you’re out of school, so you can get better animation jobs. It takes more than just good animation techniques—communication skills are just as important. Guen also talks about IK hands, Emilia Clarke’s eyebrows, and that time she ran an animation studio in China.
This week’s episode goes to some dark places. Many personal sacrifices are required when committing yourself to a major creative project. All that time and energy has to come from somewhere. Mike and Matthew share their tales of woe about poor health choices, missing out on great TV shows, and that moment when you realize you’re never going to learn a foreign language. They also cover Mike’s newly launched webcomic project, and how it fits into his dream to become a feature filmmaker.
“5 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Own Life (Without Knowing It),” by David Wong
“Imagining your future projects is holding you back,” by Jessica Abel
“The Automan’s Daughter,” by Mike Stamm and Shadia Amin
This week, Mike and Matthew chat with freelancer Kyle Bernard about his experiences as a working animator. Along the way, they learn about the importance of networking and moving to Burbank, how to figure out what your client rates should be, and the one shot you should never include on your reel. Kyle also shares his process for finding the inner life of an animated character, and the reasons why he hopes to someday work for Disney.
This week's episode is all about the technical aspects of making your own animated short: asset management, naming conventions, file versioning software. Sounds boring, right? Well, actually yeah, okay, it is pretty boring. But that's part of the problem! If you skip over the boring stuff to get straight to the fun parts, you'll crash and burn before you ever get your production up and running. Mike and Matthew share some stories from their own animation experiences to drive this point home. Along the way, they cover Subversion vs. Dropbox, making sure your new team members can get started quickly, and a lively discussion about the best ways to keep your spirits up, even when you're staring down the long road of a multi-year production timeline.
Mike and Matthew go deep into the world of freelancers: where to find them, how to negotiate with them, and how to make sure everyone ends up happy. They also cover copyright ownership, payment terms, kill fees, and how not to be a bad client.
Once your team is assembled, you’re going to want to manage communication with a large group of people, and that’s where group-chat clients like Slack come in. Matthew shares some of his thoughts on Basecamp, and Mike explains why video conferences sound gimmicky but are actually vital for team morale.
Mike and Matthew talk about the importance of working out your creative decisions early, during the scriptwriting and storyboarding stage, and how these decisions filter through the stages of pre-visualization, editing and animation. They also discuss the ways to incorporate freelance artists into a low-budget pipeline, and how best to handle feedback and criticism of your work.
Mike and Matthew introduce the show and tackle some of the reasons why animation can be so challenging: story problems, budgetary constraints, unrealistic ambitions, limited animation techniques, and the need to get better at firing people.