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10 Tips For Animators Working Remotely

Dan Richards Mar 27, 2020 Scroll to read in 6 minutes

Moving from an animation studio environment to working from home can be strange at the best of times. At A+C we’re a stop-motion based studio, so all the team are normally all under one roof, but due to the Coronavirus lockdown, we’ve sent all of our team to work remotely.

We know how hard it is to maintain focus and work at home during these challenging times. That’s why we felt it was important for us to share some of our tips and habits specifically for animators, illustrators and other motion designers who now find themselves working remotely.

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1. Create a dedicated working space

As animators, we know the benefit of having a place that is specifically for work. Stop-frame animators will know this best, often having to work isolated on specific sets for days at a time. This is why it is important to create one of these spaces for yourself in your own home if you can. Try and have a space that is separate from where you sleep and relax that you can focus on your work. This space can be as simple as your dining table or a corner of your room. Having this separation between where you work and where you relax puts you in the right mindset to work and helps to keep you focused. Speaking of which…

2. Stay Focused!

Suddenly being in your home every day is bound to provide lots of opportunity for distraction. Your TV, games, films and other homely distractions are right at your fingertips. It’s important however to try and limit your use of them until you’re on a break or done for the day. Just think that if you were at the studio working on a stop-motion project those distractions wouldn’t be there! If you’re working digitally, think about potentially using software such as Freedom to block distracting websites for set amounts of time. Waiting until the end of your work hours only makes doing the things you enjoy all the more satisfying!

3. Turn off Notifications

Mobile phones and iPads are a huge source of distraction even when at work. New studies from the University of Alabama say that even the presence of a phone can impair learning and memory. We aren’t saying go as far as getting rid of your phone, but it is good practice to turn off notifications whilst working. All the while you’re not getting notified, you’re peacefully working and fully focused.

4. Let people know when you’re working

Being stuck in a home with people who aren’t used to your way of working can be strange. The main thing is to let them know as quickly as you can how you do things and when it’s best for them to come and talk. Whether it’s your partner, housemates or your parents; tell them when you’re going to be on calls with clients and work, as well as what hours you’re working so that they can minimise interruptions. Obviously don’t ignore them completely, but it really helps your flow of working for everyone if they’re aware of your schedule early on.

5. Take regular screen breaks

When we work on a stop-motion project at the studio, the time spent looking at a screen is somewhat limited to whenever you’re taking a frame. Making the assumed jump to working digitally puts a sudden strain on your eyes. Be sure to take regular breaks to make sure you don’t get screen fatigue. Most people recommend a 5-minute break every 25 minutes to keep you feeling refreshed. So, pop to your kitchen and make yourself a drink to help you keep that focus.

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6. Posture

This may sound obvious, but good posture is key to staying productive and healthy whilst being stuck at home. The best way to maintain posture is to keep your arms at right angles, your back up straight, and your eyes level with the tops of your computer monitors. Your back is super important to maintain regardless of what type of animation you do. This advice is even important outside of lockdown!

7. Exercise

In the UK at the moment everyone is allowed to leave the house once for exercise daily. You can also exercise in your own home. There are plenty of exercise routines on YouTube and Insta-stories at the moment. Even if your job is desk-based at a studio, you’d be surprised at the amount of exercise that you are now missing out on each day simply by being at home. Doing even 10 minutes of exercise a day is a great way to clear your head and help you burn off some pent-up energy.

8. Keep to daily routines

This may sound silly, but to avoid animating in your dressing gown and slippers every day- try and keep your daily routine. Getting up with an alarm, making the bed, getting washed and dressed every day really helps set you up for a productive day. There will always be the temptation when working from home to stay in pyjamas but making an effort and sticking to your regular habits keeps you focused and feeling as close to normal as possible. Keep to your normal timings and remember most of you will be on Skype or Zoom calls!

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9. Keep on creating, draw, draw, draw!

Staying at home means that potentially you will have more time to yourself. What better way to spend this time than to maintain and improve your drawing? Try picking up a pencil and paper during your breaks and draw. There are tons of benefits for animators from observing, watching and understanding form, which are transferable to animation. Watch people and animals from your window, draw a pet inside, create character designs. There are lots of design and drawing challenges online at the moment- add these to your routine.

10. Stay Connected

Although animation can be an individual profession, lots of you like the ones here at our animation studio will be used to collaborating with other crew members. There is still a massive social element to the job that exists simply through working at a studio. It is important in these times of self-isolation to maintain contact with anyone you can, be that co-workers as well as friends and family. Here at A+C we’re currently using Slack and Zoom to keep in touch. We’ve even started a daily quiz for everyone at the studio!

We all know how important it is right now to stay indoors, and practice social distancing. We hope that some of our advice can help. So, try to practice good habits and before you know it, you’ll be back to working with your teams across the world grabbing frames and bringing to life amazing stories together. You might also be interested in reading our Blog about creating the perfect showreel here.

And now that your workday is done why not kick back with some of the best animated series on Netflix right now!