Classroom critiques in college can be some of the harshest times you face, but unfortunately it doesn’t leave once you enter a studio! The way you handle critique is incredibly important in the animation industry, and I’ve literally seen people get fired over their inability to take critique professionally in a working environment. Here is a great article written by my good friend Yoav Shtibelman, addressing this very issue.
If there is something that scares students the most, it is probably faculty critiques, or even friends’ critiques. So as you prepare for a critique, breathe, stand next to the screen, present your work, listen and explain the logic behind your choices if asked (please don’t get all defensive – just be calm). As you go back to your seat remember the following tips…
First of all, our job as artists is to find the best way to communicate our ideas to the audience. By listening to our teachers and peers, we see our film through their eyes and can find out if they understand it clearly. This is why asking for critiques is important. The trick is to be able to keep your ideas while trying to listen to what others have to say and be open for advice.
A critique is an objective thing. it’s only an opinion! We all have a different tastes when it comes to films, and so you will sometimes get notes that will actually confuse or complicate the story you are trying to tell. Your job is to filter these comments and identify the thing that is not communicating in your idea which is causing people to question it.
For example: Gordon Pinkerton told us a few years ago that when he showed his film Hunted (Which take place during night time) at a lighting faculty crit halfway through second semester, he got the note: “just make it happen during day time.” That was a ridiculous note. It was halfway through the semester, half his shots were almost wholly lit, and changing his entire lighting setup would have basically been suicide!
So he thought about it, and, rather than doing something so dramatic and rash, he identified the issue at the heart of the faculty’s suggestion: his film was too dark, and they were having trouble seeing. So he brightened the moonlight in his nighttime lighting and managed to address the note while keeping his original idea. The faculty were pleased, and he even got Best of Ringling. Ta-da!
What we are saying is when you get a critique, don’t try to do everything. You can’t, and it’ll make a mess of your story. Rather, identify the heart of the note that will help you communicate the story you want to tell, and be open to ideas that will help your story become more interesting and unique.
A great way to “see” the problems is by asking 3 random people to critique your work. If you get a repeating note – you must address it. It means it’s obvious to the general viewers and is not an individual taste.
Another one is to ask your friends and family: “Was there any part you were confused?…” Ask them to tell your story back to you in detail. You’ll be able to see how much they understood, and what they misinterpreted.
Good luck and please comment and let us how you deal with notes!
P.S – is this article helpful? we are open for critiques 😛