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misc Best course of action - writing for animation that I will realistically not produce or write for live action e.g shorts?

I have this idea for an animated short film but I am not an animator - is it worth sinking time into this if I want to be a writer/director or am I bet off working on something that I can actually produce physical work in the form of a film? At the moment, I've made one short film and two documentaries, five years ago and want to start again fresh and rebuild my portfolio this summer?
Any chance of finding an aspiring animator (student or recent grad) who might want to collaborate with you?

If not, my vote is to work on something that you can see the possibility of making yourself.
Full disclosure: that's the route I've taken so I'm talking my book (as we used to say in trading rooms).

But the prospect of either selling an animation script or learning to do it yourself feels even harder than getting a live
action movie made.

I'm not saying this is the right answer, just that it's my perspective.
I've been going through this process, for about 2-3 years now, and it can range from not that big a deal, to the most difficult thing you've ever tried to do in your entire life. I'm just now getting to the point where I could produce an animated film, and I could have climbed mount Everest 12 times with the same amount of effort.

The really big question is quality. I always ask people this, and they never understand what I mean, or why it matters. Here's why. Low quality 5 minute animated short film takes about 30 hours to make once you know what you're doing. medium quality 5 minute short film takes about 3-5 months full time work. High quality 5 minute animated film could be a year or more for a single person.

About getting other animators to work on your film. The issue with animation is that it's highly skilled work requiring up front investment into hardware. When you start recruiting, a lot of people will join, but none of them will have much skill, or equipment, or patience, or drive, and in most cases you just end up having to do everything yourself. In example, out of 45 or so people who joined my animation project, only 3 of them ever actually did even a single day of animation work. You'll get a lot of people with drum machines. One person got 3 days into the tutorials of the first animation program, and quit for life, upset at how difficult it was. The next liked making animations of anime faces. She messaged me 4 times a day for 3 months, then turned in an "eyelash blinking animation" in a different style than the film we were working on. At the beginning, I had asked her to help create models and animations for a crowd of 400 people. The third actually bought a computer, and I spent tons of hours over months teaching him how to animate. He got frustrated and quit, deciding to publish his own story on a fanfic site. He wrote 18 chapters and got 60 views. I lost 50 hours of time.

If you're really serious and dedicated, you can do this, and if you want, I'll even help you get on your feet. Just be aware that it's a really long and difficult process if you want to make publishable animation. I'd say startup costs have come down a bit, and you could get going on a budget of about 3-4 grand.

I was a live action filmmaker, working on indie films and shooting on a 110k camera rig. It certainly produces more viable results than animation. Here's the problem. Your creativity get's so badly boxed in by budget that unless your films are all about 2 people talking in a location you own, you start running into unrecoverable costs very quickly. There are workarounds, but ultimately if you don't have a motivated group of friends and supporters, you will end up filming tree after tree after tree after tree. It really all depends what you wanted to make in the first place. If you've got a great script that takes place in your kitchen, from beginning to end, live action would work out.

Here's how I started when transitioning to animation. First, I made a complete short film based on a public domain property in the easiest animation program I could find. Just to get the feel of the overall process. You don't need a good computer to run this, as it's handled online. They provide your assets for you, and an easy to use system. The downside is that quality is at the south park level. If you want to make a 5 minute animated film by next week, sign up over here, and you can do it.

Once you've successfully completed the game on the easiest setting, you have a lot of options. Toonboom Harmony is kind of the industry standard. For CG animation, I recommend UE5, specifically because of it's speed, flexibility, and free asset base. You can get started cheap, but would need a strong desktop computer with a good GPU and fans. This middle stage involves an amount of education and practice that's roughly equivalent to a masters degree in college. It can be less depending on your specific projects and style. You could make a person dance around in a room within a week of getting started, maybe. It's a lot.

The third level is professional results, and you don't even want to think about it yet. The amount of work and planning and organization is immense, and you're sanity is at risk if you try it alone, running from station to station trying to do the jobs of 60 people. I'm doing it, and now the CIA is broadcasting secret messages about invading Nicaragua into my dental fillings.

The most important thing you need to know right now, is your "target quality". If you can show me exactly what you would consider a win, I might be able to help you get there, depending on what it is.

Low grade animation, 30 minutes per camera shot manual workflow


High grade animation in "your name", hard to estimate. About 24 of the world's best animators worked full time for a year, and the film cuts corners frequently with fixed camera shots so frames don't need to be redrawn.


The best overall advice I could give to any filmmaker is to envision your main goals correctly from the beginning. Your main goal as a film director is to become effortlessly free. You have a story to tell, and a way you want to tell it. When your skill and funding is low, you'll find that everything you do requires this constant compromise, eventually ruining your story, as you continually modify it to fit the limited options available to you. That's a big goal, to learn to fly. Most people accomplish this over a lifetime. Break it up into small, achievable goals, and start winning. This is important. Do not set a goal so large that you are constantly failing at it, or you will loose momentum and stall. Animate a character, then a shot, then a scene, then a story. Get good at skies, at hair, at writing, at walking animations, at title cards. One thing at a time, and try to feel good about the small accomplishments. Over time, it will become clear how to put the small victories together into larger ones. If you persevere, one day all this can snowball into the accomplishment of your main goal, to be able to tell any story in your personal style, without compromise.
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