How to Build an Animation Team

20_Team_Blog

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I’m in the process of adding more people to my team at work. The teams I build are very small and we have limited resources. With these constraints we manage to make good work, on time, with limited overtime.

Build One Artist at a Time
The first thing I did was I built my team one artist at a time. I try to bring people up to speed on the production as quickly as possible. The process of bringing on new employees, takes time. I don’t expect animators to be at full productivity in the first weeks. What you learn in those first few weeks is how they are to work with.

Hire Multi-Faceted Animators
I hire animators. Animation is the hardest most time consuming part of production. So I look for animators who have other secondary skills in layout, storyboarding, rigging etc. People that can move around are invaluable.

Small Teams Work Smoothly
I keep the teams small. With 3-5 people communication is seamless. In production, communication is everything. I look for artists that are self managers. We talk broadly about the goals of the project. They can take it from there a break down the sub tasks.

Single Piece Flow
We tend to work on one episode/short at a time. I’ve found keeping the team working together on shorter term goals makes everything go smoother. It’s based on an idea called Single Piece flow. It’s the fact that smaller batch sizes can be faster than larger batch sizes. So far it’s worked well. And I’ve noticed we’ve gotten into problems when we stop thinking in small batches.

Now this system isn’t easily scalable. I wouldn’t know what to do with 20 or 100 people all at once. What I would try is splitting those people into autonomous teams. Again the benefit with small teams is seamless communication. Animation is a collaborative medium. I think it works best when everyone is able to contribute. I think this is the advantage that small teams have. Small teams have to capacity to listen to all their members.

All the best
Luke