Friday, April 21, 2006

My Odds and Ends Ate the Meat of My Day

This image is one of my references for the feeling inside Rana's cottage, artist unknown to me.

"Compress time, even an instant counts. in a battle of life and death a second is an eternity, an eternity that may decide the outcome. aim at success, compress time. don't waste an instant." (this quote, I gather, was taken from the sixth principle in a Castaneda work?, as used in someone named, Eotiv's Flickr photosteam.)

Do any of you ever have this happen? Please say that you do. Day after most days, I wake up early to get a leg up on the marvelous new morning, so filled with promise. Only to have the darkness of night fall on me like a sack of potatoes. Where the endless hours of planned productivity morphs into the cruel end of the line, arriving with seemingly nothing I wanted having gotten done, again. That going from that first moment to the last passes in a literal blink.

I find that I keep saying to myself; "I'll JUST do __________" meaning a small, "quick" simple task that I could cross of my crowded list before I get down to my main tasks of the day. I have "JUST DONE" myself out of many, many days, more than I can count. The things I do get done enrich my life, made me happy, made someone else happy, educated me, or all of the above, so I can't rightly begrudge them. Nor do I really see my interests in so many things a liability. I am grateful for the energy to go-go all day over anything.

I notice my biggest weakness though seems to be my spending too many hours on the Internet. I learn so many sensational things, visit so many terrific people that I find it wholly diverting and too difficult to pull away from. "I'll just check Mike's blog", "I'll just answer this kind comment from a new friend.", etc., Boom--9 pm.

I write this here on my Halfland blog because it has everything to do with my needing to introduce myself to some foreign discipline that I have never met, in order to make choices that produce time for working on it.

In my past, I used to answer this dilemma by staying up all night to complete my tasks or my art. I ran my health aground severely with that after about 20 years or so. The last few have been about repairing; eating, sleeping, water, exercise, profoundly de-stressing in general. So I'm going to have to satisfy my situation now with a more mature response. I'm going to have to keep the browser unbooted until 6 pm each day.

If you've run into things like this, how did you resolve it for yourself?

TOMORROW: The promised new armature and clip, a day late. I feel like such a wuss.

25 comments:

  1. Oh you're not alone, let me tell you!

    The really sad part is after I've hit SMA, checked my email and made all the stops on the blog trail, and then I decide to go back and start over again.....

    I'm considering using the LIO method... a kitchen timer set to 20 minutes, and when it goes off, so does the computer... or at least the web browser. Also, you can downgrade your internet access and only get a limited amount of hours per month. Not only does it enforce limited 'net access, but it costs less to boot!

    Of course, then there's the TV.... but I think you've already vanquished that demon.

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  2. Anonymous10:58 AM

    Not enough time?
    That is an easy solution to fix, you just have to get used to 4 hours sleep a night. That leaves you with 20 hours for productivity. If you can't get it done in 20 hours well you have bitten off too big a chunk. Break it down into smaller pieces.

    I have the same problem, very common I think, great intentions in the AM and great disapointment in the PM.

    The thing is just keep at it and it will get done. Persistance is the artists best friend. Well . . . along with a good cup of tea.

    Great site Shelley, I really love your character designs and sets. That tree is incredible, and I really like the name. How did you come up with Halfland?


    Thanks for sharing!

    Mark F.

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  3. I feel this alot. I feel a lot of days that time is just flying by, and what I accomplish is nothing, what I want is everything. I hate sleep. I think it's futile and useless even though once asleep I like it. If I didn't have to sleep, I wouldn't. So yes, I know the feeling. And that picture is very nice, the feeling is very warm.

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  4. Hey Mark! Nice running into you over here.

    I once decided that the way to freeze time is by sheer artistic creativity. Somehow it's like freezing those moments, preserving them forever in monument form. It's a way of defeating - at least momentarily - the endless grind of time that's stealing our lives moment by moment.

    Each work of art is another bit of time we've stolen back.

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  5. Thank you Mike, Mark, and Joe, good to know you feel the same and are susceptible to some of the same pitfalls with this. I spent many many years simply NOT sleeping. I'd collapse into bed every few days, hallucinations of cats, the whole freaky shabang. After a while my adrenal glands started rearranging the furniture. Now I can tell when I'm ramping up and I can chill. I'm hoping that I can create the art I want while protecting my health better. I used to say that sleep was for wimps, now I think it's just for humans and I'm one.

    Sweet Dreams!

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  6. Oh, and to Mark F., Thank you for asking! Actually, I was embarrassed when I named the film Halfland, as I thought it was too simple and plain a name. But I kept it as a working title and intended to come up with something more sophisticated later on. But now, I think it is good that it's so simple. It reminds me of other projects with similar names like Teifland by Leni Riefenstahl and Flatland by by E.A. Abbott.

    May I know a link to your site? Mike seems to know and respect you!

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  7. Anonymous7:37 PM

    I have to say all that talk about 4 hours sleep, well it's just that... talk, I need at least 6-7 hours of shut eye or I am useless. Earl Gray or no Earl Gray. Besides I think sleep and more importantly dreaming is an excellent way to solve creative problems. I don't mind missing a little sleep, but I miss the dreams, a good balance is important.

    Halfland - yes I really like the name, its simple but that can be a good thing. It gives me a sense of a mythic land. Where things are a little different from the everyday "normal' experience. From what I know of your project and design sense it seems to fit pretty well.

    I don't have a web site, at least not at the moment. I have something in the back of my mind so who knows. I mostly know Mike through SMA and a few email exchanges we have had along the way. I post as mefull over on the SMA boards.

    I am on a long journey to making my own stop motion short, I have been side tracked for a while now with machined armatures. Its been a fun learning experience. I can kind of relate to the long gestation period of your project, although I have not been at it quite as long as you.

    Anyway, thanks again for your site. it is inspiring, and motivating to watch your progress.

    Mark F.

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  8. Albert Einstein said he required 10 hours of sleep a night. And he was a real smartie. Maybe he knew something the rest of us bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived types are missing? I know I feel a lot better when I get enough sleep than when I don't, and can think better.

    ... And I love dreaming.

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  9. I can't believe I neglected to bring any of this up here!

    You asked about how to get things accomplished.... well the best way I know of is a deadline. I'll tell you what... the only films I've got completed are my StopMoShorts films (well, one of them anyway....) and if I didn't have the deadlines for those, I'd have nothing whatsoever accomplished. I'm amazed to realize a month has already gone by since the last deadline, and I haven't done anything toward finishing Race the Wind since! It won't take much... I can have it done in a few days. I'm setting myself a deadline here and now.... I'll have it finished by the end of the week.

    Of course, this works only if the goal is within reason, and it's best to not race through the all-important early experimentation period. I'm also going to set myself a deadline for the Scott Radke film, though I'm not sure yet what's a reasonable amount of time - I thought about going with the June deadline for the next round of StopMoShorts, but I don't think I can make that, considering I need to make 8 puppets and I plan to experiment with a few new techniques on them, plus a lot of props and some special effects shots. Oh, why am I making this one so freakin' difficult on myself??!!! But I know it's going to be worth it.

    Another good technique for defeating procrastination is to create a production schedule and stick to it. Decide what you need to get done by what dates, and scramble like hell to make it happen. It's like a series of small deadlines to keep you on track for the big one.

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  10. Yes, Mark F., dreaming works a lot out to be sure. And I look forward to learning about your work through the boards! Hooray for more "long-term's" coming out parties! Thanks so much for stopping by!

    And Mike, I see the wisdom in the deadline technique! After I get my software and animation kinks worked out, I'll definitely be doing that. I'd like to schedule regular showings here, or elsewhere, where the scene shorts can be presented on perhaps a monthly basis. Thanks!!

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  11. Me too!
    Don't know where the time goes. This is even more apparent when your working from home I think. Feels like you should be able to do so much more.

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  12. I think you're gith Phil, about working at home being different. I seem to be a different person when I'm at work surrounded by others and expected to do my job. It's amazing what you can accomplish simply because you're expected to, and will have to explain yourself if you don't. Sluffing off is easier when you're sitting in the basement with the TV on in sloppy clothes and haven't spoken to anyone all day.

    Shelley, I like the idea of self-appointed showings. I'd like to also encourage you at some point to enter a StopMoShorts competition, using whatever puppets you have built at the time, just for the sheer practice/experience of it. Being part of a collective experience adds a new level to things that you can't understand until you've experienced it.

    But for now you've got your hands full just learning about puppetsmithing etc. And I hope you're striking up a nice friendship with the Unibrain.

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  13. GITH??

    ... That was supposed to be right.

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  14. Hi Phil!! you are T-O-T-A-L-L-Y right about working at home on my own authority seemingly should be more fruitful but isn't! That's got to be one of the world's great mysteries. I've decided that for me discipline means doing what gives me the greatest pleasure, even if it is the difficult and unobvious choice at the time.

    And Mike, yes, on the SMS festivals, when I get that far, to be sure! Prolly with whatever 1/2 Land gear is in use at the time.

    Cheers!

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  15. Hey -- I wanted to (kindly) buck common wisdom re deadlines.

    It's my experience too that many (if not most) of my proudest accomplishments were done while rushing to beat a deadline. But I believe it's not the deadline that motivates -- it's the *people* whom you don't want to fail.

    Whenever I've tried to set a bunch of deadlines for myself in isolation -- they quickly fall apart. And after the first deadline is missed, guilt starts accumulating like a snowball, and I can fall into paralysis.

    But when there are people involved -- and they have to be people who I care about -- then it's important to me to have something to show them when we meet. It can be a meeting that's only a week away, or it can be a deadline that's three months away... I'll work my butt off because I want to impress.

    ...I didn't put in a submission in for this last stopmoshorts.com quarterly competition -- but up until the last day, I was really engaged with thinking about it -- largely because I knew Mike and Ubatuber (Jeffrey Roche) were submitting.

    I'm asking myself why the next competition isn't motivating me more -- even though I like the words better ("moon" especially). I think it may be because I don't know anyone else who's shooting for it. ...See? It doesn't have that flavor of working toward a meeting with friends.

    This is a little self-styled koan I've been chewing on for a week or so: "Why do we do anything? People."

    ...I'm not sure what all this means yet -- but I have the intuition that the more we co-mingle our artistic projects with commitments to community, the more likely we are to get things done.

    A question this raises for me, though: The stopmoshorts competition is initiated by people outside of us. Halfland, or Let Sleeping Gods Lie, or Mike's Ahab story -- these are stories that originate from within us. How do we involve the community, when the vision emanates unilaterally from within us as individuals? ...When the community is excluded from defining our project parameters?

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  16. Veeeeelly intellesting......

    Stopmoshorts really isn't what we originally set out to create. Sven, I know you weren't around when it all first got started, but the original suggestion was to set parameters for ourselves as filmmakers, based on Lars Von Trier's Dogme 95. I'm not entirely conversant with it, but as I understand, there was a small group of filmmakers centered around Von Trier who decided to rebel against computers and anything artificial, to stick with very simple old-fashioned filmmaking techniques, almost like amateurs once did with Super-8 cameras.

    But somehow along the way it turned into a web-based competition. Not at all what we had in mind, though we never did really define what kind of limitations/criteria we might want to create for ourselves. We kicked around ideas, but basically we kept coming back to the fact that stopmotion is already hard enough that adding in external limitations is almost ridiculous.

    But it would be fun to see if we can come up with something similar, maybe not based on limitations, but rather aimed at getting ourselves motivated to complete films, or to strive to create the best films we can. So far it's great being blog brothers, there's a strong sense of community and helpfulness, but I think we could band together a bit more... maybe set communal goals for ourselves, like each completeing a certain amount of films in a certain time? And of course helping each other out with critique along the way.

    Stopmoshorts is good for beginners and those who want to make films but don't have their own ideas, but personally I feel too limited by the super-short time frame... my film ideas generally depend on building atmosphere and characterization, which I can't do in under a minute.

    Anyway, just throwing out suggestions.

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  17. Yes.

    More.

    Collaboration.

    Brothers.

    How?

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  18. If any of you are interested, here's the thread where StopMoShorts was birthed: An Anti-Rant.

    I just re-read the first half dozen or so posts, enough to remind me of the weird free-for-all it turned into. Too many cooks and everyone trying to go in a different direction. I think what we should concentrate on is not limitations or even a mission statement - we each know what kind of films we want to make. Shelley mentioned regularly scheduled screenings.... I think that might be our key. Like the exhibitions where the Impressionists showed their stuff and overturned the Salon to give birth to Modern Art. Not that we're trying to do anything so extreme, just using some cool arty talk.

    I think StopMoShorts is a great thing, and like I said, without it I wouldn't have made any films yet.... (or would I be well into the Ahab movie by now? Who can say?). What I don't like about it is that it feels more like assignments to me, not my own films. That's fine for newbies who might not have their own direction yet, or for more advanced fi;lmmakers who have the time or are between projects, but I need to get going on my own ideas, with no external impositions on time limits etc.

    And most likely we can't set arbitrary dates and all have something done. Each of our films have different criteria, and we're all at different points along the learning scale. But we can each set goals for ourselves, announce them on our own blogs, and help each other to meet them. Not much different from what we've been doing, but more focused.

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  19. Oh, Hi Shelley! Your comment wasn't there when I started in.

    Here's an example of the kind of support I think we might be able to offer each other... for you specifically Shel, my suggestion would be that you spend the rest of this year honing your puppetmaking and animating skills - after your 12 years in halfland purgatory there's no need to jump in head first. You might not be ready at the end of the year to start production yet, at that time you might decide you need another 6 months practice/experimentation time.

    Anyway, that's what I'm suggesting... each of us set time-oriented goals for ourselves, which are flexible, but we try to stick to them. By blogging our progress we involve each other and the silent lurking masses who are reading along.

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  20. i know i'm late on this, but it's worth mentioning -- blogging is part of what keeps you in motion and allows you to give yourself credit for what you HAVE done rather than beating yourself up for what you haven't done.

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  21. Hi Mikee, I love your individual blog announcement screening idea and the reasons you came to develop that suggestion. I think it has merit. I can see us getting into that swing in the year ahead.

    I also appreciate your suggestion to me personally to just practice for the next several months rather than smash headlong fumble as I have been so far. Cept' no can do. I'll be learning as I go and I may shoot the entire thing and then turn around and start over with a more experienced hand.

    Please note that even though I've "wasted" 14 years by not doing it, that it wasn't because of my having patience. I had to wait for the frame grabbing software to be written, and for the digital camera revolution, for the internet to be invented, and for you to learn all that you have, so you could tell me what to do. I had to arrange my life so I had the wherewithal to work on it and still have a roof overhead. I had to wait until I could find a living space I could afford that had room to build and shoot, and be blessed with a partner that wants me to do it even more than I do, on and on. If I had known back then that I'd be waiting for these things I'd probably fainted from frustration. So--don't even ask me to practice before nothin'. I'm going in. Remember, for me, it isn't about good animation or film making technique. It's a painting.

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  22. Oooo, gl, official welcome (even though if Sven loves you you must rock hard) I love what you wrote.

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  23. Heh, well, okey dokey then! I guess you're jumping in. I'll be standing by with a life preserver.

    If you're going about it like that, then maybe you could shootr to have episode 1 done by decmber 31? Again, just a tentative suggestion.
    As you go, you'll be able to determine a much better possibly finish date.

    Wow, has everybody looked at Sven's let Sleeping Gods Lie blog? I just checked it out... awesome (and painful to see the incredibly slow laborius progress). Methinks CGI is much much harder and more brian-numbing than stopmo.

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  24. And yes, Gretchin, more great insight.

    Shelley, that post really made me laugh like a total goofball!

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  25. K.

    December 31, 2006; Film 1; Scene 1; Animated.

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