Thursday, June 09, 2005

Remember, They're Principles, Not Rules

In the end, it's all about the entertainment of the story and the emotion of given moment for the character. Everything serves those ends. Anything else added for the sake of "Just Because" is of no merit. Some of the best stuff out there can be said to violate one principle or another. So what? If it works, then it works. No more need be said or done.
I like to think of the principles (not only in animation, but also in story development) as diagnostic tools. They are most helpful when something isn't working. Then you can hold up your work against the principles and see what might need some improvement. But if you go into the scene (or a story) trying to match the principles, like some laundry list of things 'To-Do', then you're failing before you start. They don't give awards for scenes that best fulfill the checklist of 12. They give awards for scenes that entertain, that capture the moment in a real, live, thinking, breathing, feeling character's life on screen.
If the goal is wrong, the emphasis will be wrong and the effort will not succeed. The goal is to express the character sincerely, not exercise some kind of animated liturgy.
I don't like principles being forced just because. Bleh.


jason said...

ding ding ding ding ding!!!!

good point, keith!

nono, great point!

Anonymous said...

Hi Keith
Great point, particularly coming from my own perspective as an animation student. Often these principles are presented to us newbies as holy sacrament; rules to be followed and never broken. As a result, students often turn out work that is bloated and messy as all hell, because they go in - as you say - with a laundry list of things to do. To hear someone in the industry finally say what you've just said is great and downright liberating. My future efforts, I am sure, will benefit from this comforting knowledge, so for that (and for having a great site in general): Thanks!

Anonymous said...

again, you come up with this stuff just when i reach the frustration point. just when i think that my work is becoming too confusing and there is too much to remember, your comments remind me that if something isn't playing, you need to make it work, even if that means bending the rules a bit. great things to keep in mind.

Anonymous said...

Very good point Keith, but you know getting confident enough to be ready to "learn and forget" those principles take some work, time and maturity and talent.

Anonymous said...

For someone as experienced and talented as you it comes naturally and you don't even think about it, because your mind probably (can't say for sure, hehe) applies principles by default.

But that's the reason we all learn on every chance we can, to get to this state of mind that we don't even have to think about it.

Anonymous said...


First learn the principles, then you know what you can break to serve the higer purpose.

But those are some simple, but tough things to learn about...