What are the biggest mistakes you can make as an animator?

September 25, 2019

Animating is super simple, right? You draw something, put it on a computer, press some buttons, and boom! You have a seamless animation with smooth moving parts all around. We hate to break it to you, but unfortunately, this isn’t exactly how animation works. While animation can be simple, it does have its challenges as any animator can admit. Often times mistakes can be made because of the process of production regardless of the animator’s skill level. With that said, it is no wonder that producing an animation seems to be more complicated than expected. Since our animators here at Fox & Co are quite the experts, it only seemed fair to have a chat with a couple of our motion designers, who each have varied skillsets and experiences. We caught up with Nico, our Art Director and Senior Motion Designer, Callum, our 2D and 3D Motion Designer, and Tyler, our Motion Design Intern. Let’s see what they had to say about the challenges and mistakes animators may face!


What distinguishes good animation from bad animation?

Tyler: Flow. If the animation is smooth and seamless, I believe that’s what truly makes animation special. More importantly, it needs to tell a story and have a purpose. From the smallest logo to feature films, the message needs to be apparent and present to a common audience.


Fox & Co Logo, Sticker Pack, Tyler Miller

Callum: In my opinion, it has to do with the weight of the animated object and guiding the viewer’s eye. Thinking about the objects that you’re animating makes a big difference, such as a floating feather or feeling the weight of a heavy bowling ball. It’s also important to guide the viewer to the next point where the animation will start using visual clues.


Star Wars Zoetrope, Callum Mudgway

When you first started in motion design/animation, what would you say was your biggest challenge?

Tyler: Keyframing for sure. I struggled with the timing and dissecting each part of my subject. This ties back to my previous answer regarding flow. My first animations were hard to watch because they were so choppy. I soon learned about the tricks to improve flow and was taught better techniques from the Fox & Co team.

What are some mistakes you notice from amateur/beginner animators?

Callum: A common mistake is not including the basic principles of animation such as spacing & timing, squash & stretch, and secondary actions. Sometimes you need to pause and familiarize yourself with a point in order to avoid having to frantically animate everything at once. 



Which mistake bothers you the most or which mistake is the most problematic?

Nico: To me, ignoring the fundamentals, in any creative field, is a common mistake. For instance, during the experimental phase of production, it can be easy to rely too heavily on plug-ins and filters.

Tyler: Hmmm, that’s a good question. I would say exporting your project. If you choose the wrong setting or compression then it could mess up your work. The whole exporting process also takes forever!


Trailblazers Awards GFX Package Concept, Nico Speziali

Any tips for people wanting to go into design?

Nico: With anything in life, I would recommend researching and gathering as much information in any field in which you’re interested. If you know someone who works in the industry, invite them for a coffee and ask them about what you’re interested in as well as any questions you may have. I would also recommend attending design talks. There are often a couple of good ones each year in major cities and even at universities. You can also connect with artists who you follow on Instagram. The design community is open to sharing knowledge, so don’t be afraid to reach out. 

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made as an animator yourself?

Callum: The biggest mistake I have made is underestimating the scale of a project and how much planning goes into bigger scale animations. It’s important to read the brief thoroughly to get an accurate idea of how much work there is. 

Nico: Oh, I’ve made plenty! The worst ones are related to mismanaging a project. It’s always harder to gauge how long a project will take when you are inexperienced. That being said, sometimes you learn more from making mistakes. 


Whether you’re starting out or are a bit more experienced, animation and design will always have their challenges. However, while mistakes can be irritating and a bit discouraging, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad animator. Often times, overcoming challenges helps push you to improve your skillset. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes because learning from them is just as beneficial, if not more so, than always succeeding.