Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Breaking My Arm, Not My Stride: How I Learned to Animate One-Handed


After Effects is so easy to use, you can do it with one hand- literally. 

This past week at Swagger was an adventurous one that taught me several important things- including how to master After Effects with one hand. With the absence of a major team player and big deadlines pending, the pressure was on to get through the week. The week started off great and all projects we had on deck were set to go off without a hitch. That is, until we suddenly found ourselves with a new big animation project that needed to be completed in 3 days. The video length was 5 minutes and every aspect of it needed to be animated. We knew it was going to be a huge undertaking, especially short-staffed, but we had enough swag to take on the challenge. 

The project scope seemed pretty simple, but once we identified exactly what the client was looking for, what seemed so simple at first quickly became complicated. We developed an action plan to get the project completed by the client’s deadline with everything they requested. The plan required me to work overnight in order to meet our 3 day deadline. The project was super awesome, and I was excited to help out my team and we felt confident that the only thing standing between us and the project’s completion was a little more time.

I transferred all the files I needed to a portable drive to take home. Once I arrived home, I cranked up my home editing station and brewed a nice big cup of coffee. I plugged in the drive and begin working away in good ole’ After Effects.

Time flew by quickly and before I knew it, it was almost midnight and I completely forgot to take my dog out. So I saved my worked and took my pup to the restroom. On our way back, he decided it would be cool to run up the stairs in our complex (we live on the first floor). After calling him several times, I proceeded up the stairs to grab him. As I was walking back down the stairs, I tripped and fell, landing on my left arm.

I immediately noticed that my left arm was misshaped, but I didn’t think it was too serious, so I decided to get back to work. Finally the swelling and pain became unbearable, and I decided to go to the ER. After a 6 hour wait, the doctor confirmed my biggest fear, my hand and wrist were broken.

Anxiety lurked its way in, as I began to think about the big deadline I had in front of me.
I was the only one who could work on this project, and now my arm was broken.  So I contacted all necessary parties at the office, and we began to devise a new action plan. Jarred, my boss, wanted me to take care of myself, but I insisted on getting the project complete. 

I tend to use keyboard shortcuts in After Effects rather than the mouse, so I knew that this task of animating with one hand would be difficult.  I took a few moments before starting to animate to familiarize myself with the tool bar. Taking a look at the tool bar did help, but I kept finding myself trying to use keyboard shortcuts. After another long night, I managed to get the project in on time.

This project wasn’t the only project that needed to be complete, but my other teammates in the office stepped in and got it done, so I could focus on the big project at hand.

To quote the great Vince Lombardi, “Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” At Swagger, we are totally committed as a team to put the best work forward.


So the next time you feel the pressure and don’t know how to make it through, just remember to rely on your resources, keep the end goal in sight, and there is always light at the end of the tunnel. 


1 comment:

  1. I can attest to Cortney's commitment and Swagger's stick-to-it-ness. I was the client in this scenario. Thanks guys.

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