Whether you like it or not, productive, informed feedback is essential if you are to produce great animation work. Often when students taking animation courses start out on their journey, they can feel very protective of their work as naturally we are all passionate about what we produce. However new animators learn quickly that the more open you can be about taking on board useful criticism and suggestions, the quicker you’ll learn.

So here we discuss why it’s important to get feedback, where to look for it and when is it safe to ignore it.

Why is feedback useful; my art is unique!

Because animators are creative by nature, often the work is very personal and sometimes we invest a huge amount of emotion and our own personality into what is being produced. This can mean we are too close to the work and an independent set of eyes is always useful in that context. And if you’re learning your craft then the reality is that you don’t know everything. Even from a technology perspective, there is so much to learn these days that it’s important to leverage off the experience of others who may have already tried and tested the techniques you are working with.

Remember too that no matter how brilliant your creativity is, it’s designed to be consumed by an audience so it’s essential to find out what someone from your target audience thinks about it at the development stage – so you can make sure you’re on the right track as you go – getting that feedback early and tweaking your work is a much better route to go than releasing something that does nothing for the people you thought would enjoy it.

With each piece of useful feedback, you are refining your skills as an animator; the quicker you do that, the faster you will be able to produce great work. So if you’re just starting out as an animator, get feedback as soon as you can during the animation process as you’ll save time and effort if you’re pointed in the right direction at an early stage.

How do I ask for Feedback

First of all, work out who to talk to. There are probably only two types of people you should take feedback from;

  1. Animators who produce work that you respect or are successful in the business. Their feedback can give you helpful technical insights into how the animation can be improved. They are also in a position to give you technical input so choose people working on the same type of animation.For example, if you are 3D modelling, look for someone who can discuss proportions, contours and finishes. If you’re developing a game, find someone who can give you feedback on the game assets and on the topology. There are professional services for feedback like Reel Feedback and it’s worth checking out the 11 second club which is a monthly character animation competition you can join to get feedback on your work.

    Of course posting on YouTube can give you instant feedback and fame – “Animator Vs Animation” is a great example of how one artist, Alan Becker, raised his profile through a YouTube release but this goes with the usual warnings; be prepared for negative, meaningless and anonymous feedback!

  2. Your target audience. This will depend on the type of animation you are working with – if you are producing a game, then a keen gamer will tell you what they enjoy; if it’s a cartoon then ‘toon fans will put you on the right track. They may have no technical expertise at all but they will give you feedback on how they experience your work and this is critical. They may also be able to give you relevant examples where someone else has achieved the experience you are trying to deliver.

Secondly you’ll want to ask what elements they enjoyed and what didn’t work for them – that’s a good starting point and make sure you ask a few different people as if the responses are consistent; you’ll need to take them on board.  Also look for suggestions; what would they do differently to improve the work?

Finally it’s worth pointing out that there is a point in time when you’ll be right to ignore feedback – if it’s overly critical, too personal or worse. If the person loves everything you do and can offer no suggestions to improve the work it’s probably time to get another opinion.

Animation Courses; Visit Pulse College

At Pulse College we’ll introduce you to the theory and practice of 3D and 2D animation and all of our animation courses introduce students to the latest technologies used in the industry. Delivered by experienced animators, working in the business, Pulse College courses give you the practical experience you need to establish a career in animation. If that sounds good, go ahead and register your interest for one of our upcoming open events. Looking forward to meeting you here!