Thursday, July 10, 2008

Looking back on the year

Yeah, I know most folks do this kind of thing in December, but considering that I just had my annual performance review at Reel FX (they always do it in the summer...don't ask me why), I thought it would be appropriate to toss some stuff out here.

It's definitely been an interesting year since my review last summer, with the most significant change being the switch from animator to TD that happened about halfway through. If you'd told me last July that in six months I'd be stepping away from animation, I probably would not have believed it. It might have sounded like an interesting hypothetical situation, but I still don't know that I would have accepted the reality of it it too readily. Even when I knew that I absolutely had to step away from animation, it was difficult bringing myself to actually believe it. After thinking about this for a while, I feel that part of that reluctance was due to recollections of a special church blessing I received many years ago. In this blessing, there's a phrase that's always stuck out to me. From what I recall, it says, "Don't get stuck in a rut in jobs you don't like."

It sounds pretty straightforward when you first look at it. For me, though, I never imagined that animation would become the rut. I always saw it as the thing that was keeping me out of the rut, and up until the point when the stress really started settling in, the mental picture of my career path was full of nothing but animation. I also remember hearing in high school about how the average person has several "careers" over the course of their lifetime, and recall thinking to myself, "That's ridiculous. Why go through all that? Just find something you like and stick with it. Why is that so hard?" And again, once I landed upon animation, I always felt that would be my job for the rest of my life. Why go through the hassle of switching when I've found something I love?

Well, apparently that love wasn't as deep as I initially believed. I'm still picking through the pieces and trying to find the one that is/was the key to the crash. Even if I don't find that piece, though, I'm at peace knowing that I've successfully made the transition to something that I truly believe I love more. Now don't get me wrong, I still have a strong love for the broad spectrum of animation. It's something about the process of animating that isn't exactly my cup o' cocoa.

It's interesting, though...several people have made the comment, "Once an animator, always an animator," and initially I was quick to dismiss that thought. I figured that once it's gone, it's gone. However, after further thought, it's probably not a good idea to be so quick to
toss it out. Perhaps something will arise down the road that will call me back to do a personal animated project. I can almost guarantee, though, that I won't return to full-time animation. But you know what? I'm all right with that.

Getting back to my annual review, one of the concerns that was expressed by my supervisors back in January when I initially made the transition was related to my salary. They told me that they would find it difficult to justify paying a TD the salary of a senior animator, and that if I wanted to have any chance of keeping what I had, the expectations would be very high. To make a long story short, I worked my tail off and was pleasantly surprised to receive a raise. More importantly, though, I enjoyed every day of work since the change was made.

I'd say this year is coming along quite nicely so far. :)


BMan said...

Thanks again for sharing. I'm going thru similar stuff now, but also somewhat different. My animation is "on the side" and in a sense I intend to keep it that way. It's still a "business" for me, but not for a studio w/ the pressure and stress of that. Then again, there's no salary either. Regardless, I'm digging it, can relate to your story and thank you again for bringing us readers along.

Mark Behm said...

Just a question for the money folk: one TD spends 5 days, makes a tool that saves 30 animators 5 days a year each? How does that not translate into money? Myopia?