A student wrote in telling me that he turned in a spot that was over a minute long for a project that asked for only a 15-second animation. His teachers insisted on giving him a failed grade. He was wondering why he would be punished for what he considered was “Overachieving as an artist.” This is an excerpt from my reply…
First of all, I think it’s great that you put so much energy and passion into your projects. Your drive to be better and better will be the most important part of your journey.
However, you must think about your teachers as real clients in the real world. You aren’t just learning After Effects. You are learning how to create within their limitations and make great work within the client’s constraints.
Think about this: When you leave school and get a job, you will have limits. If someone needs a 15-second commercial, you can not deliver a 70-second spot, no matter how good it is. Right? True artists make the best of their limitations. If your concept needs more than a minute to make sense, then your concept is not right for this project. Re-concept the idea to play out in 15-seconds or consider shortening your current idea to fit the brief. Going above and beyond is great, but making something longer that is required is NOT going above and beyond. In fact, it is sometimes harder to make short pieces than long ones.
In any profession, there are rules and standards. If a builder was asked to build a one-story ranch for a family, he would NOT be applauded for making a six-story skyscraper. Again, think of your teachers as future clients. They asked for a 15-second commercial for a 15-second time slot and you gave them an unusable piece of animation. If they were your client, you would not get paid.
Anyway, don’t be discouraged. Overachieving is a good thing. Just spend time overachieving in things that ARE under your control. Make the colors perfect, make concepts more clear, make the animation tighter, write more interesting stories. Just remember, making a spot longer doesn’t make it better.
One last thing: If your goal is to be only an artist, none of this matters. Do anything you want that makes you artistically happy. But, if you are looking for a job in this industry, you have to learn to accept constraints and create great work within them.
Keep up the passion!