Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Turning the Tide

As noted in our first post, the Blue Sky Animation department has been going through some changes.  When ever a member of your team leaves it's super painful, especially when you're as tight as we are.  Unfortunately, we've had quite a few leave in the past couple of months, which has been really tough.

Below is a great inside look at how one animator, Stewart Shaw, is helping to turn the tide.  This is what makes Blue Sky special, and for that matter, our industry.

Here's his email to the animation department in it's entirety:


Can't concentrate?  Writer's block?  Nothing seems funny?  And the bid days keep slipping by?

You are not alone.

Speaking with a few of you recently, we discovered that the past few weeks have been extremely depressing.  Surprise!  I know it was for me.  Last week was the lowest point I have ever experienced here at BSS.  I almost called in sick 3 days last week.  I was incapacitated, and didn't know why.  I felt worse then when I was burnt out at the end of Rio.  Like I was forgetting how to animate, and didn't care to remember.  I was starting a shot that I had been excited for since kick off, and I was animating like a disinterested student.  It was embarrassing, isolating, frustrating, and honestly scary.

Here is how I am recovering.

We have each other.  Sounds corny, but its true.  Talking with a few of you guys about these past two weeks undid most of the damage.  It made me realize how truly lucky I am to be part of this team.  Reason number one why I'm coming to work every day, is you.  We do more then work together.  We care about each other.  We love each other.

Because people left, we GET to step up.  We are now blessed with the opportunities of more challenging shots.  We have the full support of our leadership backing us to take these shots.  We would not have these opportunities if no one left.  I would never have been hired in the first place if people had not left after Horton.  Many people currently in positions of leadership that we look up to in this dept got their opportunity to lead because others left.

We are rising to the occasion.  People are already leveling up left and right.  That inspires me.

We get to ANIMATE, feature films, FOR MONEY!!!!!  We get paid to make characters come to life, and entertain millions of people around the world.  We can come in to work with crocks, or a 3 piece suit; Baby faced, or looking like a yeti after a run in with a weed eater.  We are either living the dream, or on the road to it.

Yes, it is very sad watching people leave.  But they are all going to situations that are better for them and their families.  Any loss experienced on my end is outweighed by my happiness for them.

EVERY shot is an opportunity for growth.  Even if I'm uninspired, and angry at how lame I think my shot is, I make it an exercise.  I will work on my process and efficiency.  I make sure I'm addressing my list of craft goals to improve on this film.  No over thinking.  I find the opportunities in the shot where I can have some fun (every shot has at least 1) and go for it.  Worse that happens is they get shot down. 

IA4 isn't going to be easy.  But with the talent and character evident in this team, developed or potential, its nothing we can't handle.

Things are chaotic at the moment, but I'm choosing to believe this change is good.  We are at the beginning of greatness.  That's why I'm continuing to invest in this place.  I'm getting married and buying a house.  I can't say I'll be here for ever, but I'm actively making plans to stay.

The studio is expanding, not shrinking.

The powers that be are actually listening.  After the department meeting that shall not be named, I took John Donkin up on his offer to speak further.  I explained how we are down to only one working cintiq for the dept.  The next day, first thing in the morning, Jack Ham was at my desk to try and get the other one working.

We all, right now, have the opportunity to make this a place where people don't want to leave.  Where those who left want to come back (which is already happening).  To make IA4, Leafmen and beyond, films that all our departed brethren REGRET not being a part of.  We are the new Blue Sky Animation.


  1. I'm working my butt off to be a part of it!

  2. You guys are doing some of the most fun to watch animation on the big screen right now. And remember, the 9 old men had to leave for Eric, Andreas, Glen and many more to step up, so I cant wait to see what great new characters you will introduce to us next.


  3. Goodness i want to work there so much :) It will happen! Just you all wait!!