No Excuse, Just Ship!
By David Andrade

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Today’s guest blog comes to us from Stage 32 community favorite, David Andrade. 

David has worked as an animator on films like R.I.P.D, Percy Jackson 2, and Snow White & the Huntsman, and games like Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. After the very public and sad collapse of Rhythm & Hues Studios, David has moved on to create his own animation studio called theory animation. The studio is fully remote with twenty artists collaborating from around the world. He's also worked on PBS kids animation.

David brings us a remarkable tale of being at the top in your craft, having it being taken away from you beyond your circumstances, and then rising again to be a the true creative you were put on this earth to be.

Enjoy

RB

You have no excuse for not creating, finishing, and shipping.

If you read anything in this post, just read that. For I know in an age where one paragraph is too much, the next nine will undoubtedly scare you. It bears repeating too: you have no excuse for not creating, finishing, and shipping what you are working on. None. No doubt from within or without, expectation from yourself or others, nor any ridiculous obstacle should stop you, hold you back, or is worthy of your time as an artist. You have one job: create, finish, and ship.

Hi, I’m David. A year ago, I was working on a film that was the talk of the town: R.I.P.D.! It was a huge visual effects-laden, action-packed, comic movie that made its bow last July to… some fanfare. We had some fans; I certainly went to see it. The company that I was working for at the time, Rhythm & Hues Studios, had just finished its magnum opus, a little thing called Life of Pi, and was abuzz with energy for R.I.P.D. and the future that lay before us. Things looked bright and we felt were on to something great!

Yet, I had a conundrum – I was itching to do something of my own. I had finished my personal short, Nuts for Pizza, the year before, and I was searching for new ideas to produce. When I signed on to Rhythm I had told myself “This is it. This is my last job, then I will work on a new short.” Yet the months rolled by. R.I.P.D. wrapped and became 300: Rise of an Empire; Rise became Percy Jackson 2… where does it stop? At what point do you give yourself permission to go after your desires?

When?

For me, it was on February 10th, 2013. On the eve of winning an Oscar, my employer, the fine Rhythm & Hues Studios, declared bankruptcy. What followed was nothing short of a traumatic triage to stop the tearing apart of our home: people were laid off, text messages detailed the events as they unfolded, and ultimately, the whole place became a sad mess. Monday found the remaining group of us sucker-punched. The VFX industry had taken a large tumble when Digital Domain went down; what did it mean that Rhythm was falling apart too? The Oscar was in our grasp, and yet no golden statue could feed the hungry mouths of the families left asunder.

I survived the initial cuts and lasted until I received my marching orders on March 29th. I spent the next few days wandering Manhattan Beach, surfing, sun-burning, and sketching in my journal. What did I really want to do? I drifted back to my thoughts of creativity, my projects, and fulfilling my deepest desire of starting an animation studio.

I started thinking about my situation, about the cash I had saved (for when I’d start on my dreams), about the time I now found myself with. What was there to stop me? I felt terrible for my fallen comrades and my battered industry, but I was equally encouraged about the future. No one will stand up for your creativity, I thought. You could slave away on a film – a grand experience in my history – but at the end of it where would you be?

That bankruptcy was the best and worst thing that could have happened to me.

On April 1st, 2013 I started down the path to my dreams with the founding of Theory Studios LLC. I took on a couple of partners and together we directed all of our energies to creating something new. Not just a new short, which rapidly transformed into a new series, but a new type of studio too, one that is completely online, uniting artists from around the world. We expanded, meeting people, making friends, and launching our series first as two-minute bits to get our feet wet, and then as longer-format episodes. We wrote technology to work remotely and set about refining it. Suddenly the pangs of loss were replaced by the fever of creation. We had one goal:

To finish.

But even when the final frame is rendered, we as artists are not entirely finished. For us to finish – just as it is for you to finish – we need to share our creation, the results of our labor. We need to ship it out! That’s the one job of an artist, it’s the one job of each and every person that works at Theory, and it’s your one job too.

That’s what I’m bringing you all today. A finished episode of our series, Ray & Clovis. What started from the fertile ground of tragic loss has sprouted into a completed work of art. Granted it has the potential to be funnier, longer, prettier, have better editing- blah blah blah. That’s not the point, it is never the point. The point was to create, finish, and ship. And now, by sharing this episode with you, my job is complete. I can begin again. There’s no excuse to stop me, and there’s excuse to stop you from doing the same either. 


David is available for remarks and questions in the Comments section below.