Within many industries there is often the agonising question of how much time you should put into a project.
This is probably true of most service based businesses where you are effectively charging for your time. The real dilemma here is getting that balance between putting enough time in so that you are proud of the work whilst still giving the client value for money and the results they want.
The animation industry is possibly one of the most time intensive services on the planet. Creating amazing fluid frame-by-frame hand drawn animations takes an immense amount of time, patience and persistence, and in my case a lot of Coffee! Not forgetting you must also be highly creative, be able to act and understand physics and timing.
So just how much time is enough? This is a question I have to ask myself a lot.
At the start of any project there is a budget, this can either be dictated by the studio or agency you are working for or you have looked at the specifics of the job, and agreed a realistic budget to carry out the work.
In any of these scenarios there is a margin of guess work, and with experience you have past projects to help base your decisions upon. The broad term ‘animation’ can mean a lot of things, which also has to be factored in. The style of animation can effect a budget considerably and needs to be understood fully before committing to a cost and deciding how long it will take to produce.
We can use a mixture of hand drawn and cut-out style puppet animation, just cut-out or fully hand drawn. And often find that most projects tend to be a mix of all 3 styles, even calling upon 3D at times. But the level to which you apply these styles starts to fall into the how much time question.
In an ideal world, clients would have deep pockets and no deadlines, so every project can become a breath taking piece of work. The reality is, there will be a budget and almost certainly there will be a deadline. But even armed with this knowledge when you are sat at your desk and the creative juices start to follow, how many of us are tempted to go that extra mile. Making a scene just that bit more fluid, adding just a little bit more animation to the details, I know I do, I can’t help myself.
Even though you know there is a budget, you know you should not be spending those extra hours perfecting a scene, and you know the project has a looming deadline. Once again, you find yourself working into the early hours of the night going above and beyond.
I often wonder if I should factor in an ‘above and beyond’ tax when quoting for work, but the problem is that it’s just impossible to quantify. The client rarely expects the level of detail we often go into, as they appreciate there is a time-scale and a budget. Their expectations are always met and deep down they know you have gone the extra mile to make it a great piece of work.
But when the dust settles, you sit back and look at what you have created and wonder, did I really need to spend that extra time on this scene, was it really worth it….
The answer is always yes.
The caveat to this is of course, within reason! There is a fine line between doing what you love because you love it, and doing what you love for a living. If you don’t take a sensible approach to managing your time, you can soon find yourself unable to afford your passion.