Project Description

36 other things I learned at DreamWorks

Published: March 21, 2015

01. Don’t plan on getting eight hours of work done during an eight-hour workday. You’ll always be disappointed. Be mindful of the overhead each day demands.

02. Don’t plan for an ideal scenario when making a movie. This too will disappoint you every time.

03. At a large company, it’s common for your scope of responsibility to shrink. Strive for mastery. Be wary of pigeonholes.

04. Large companies, like large ships, are slow to change course. Rarely will you be working with the latest and greatest tools. Don’t limit your knowledge of the industry to your current company.

05. Proprietary software is often necessary, but knowledge of proprietary software rarely transfers. Again, don’t limit your knowledge of the industry to your current company.

06. Take time to customize your desktop environment to support your work style. A few fewer keystrokes can save thousands of movements and dozens of hours over the course of your career.

07. Don’t delete files from shared server spaces lightly.

08. Animation is a dynamic industry. This dynamism is exciting when you build and launch a new tool overnight. It’s terrifying when all your friends get laid off overnight.

09. It feels good to feel confident. Confidence is as much about outlook as it is about skill.

10. You can’t solve other people’s problems if you haven’t first ensured other people are comfortable approaching you with their problems.

11. Many things make a shot difficult. Crowds, furry characters, multiple hero characters, lots of foliage, and intricate camera moves make a shot especially difficult.

12. You will never regret exercising.

13. Exercise doesn’t have to mean franchise gyms and rows of treadmills. It can mean consistently parking at the far end of the parking lot.

14. Maya, Houdini, Nuke, Mudbox, ZBrush, MARI, and Massive are important tools of the trade.

15. It’s more difficult to switch industries than it is to switch jobs within an industry.

16. Don’t release after 3pm. Don’t release on Fridays.

17. The moment you become comfortable in your current position is the moment you should start entertaining the idea of moving on.

18. Some jobs require six months of training before competency can be reached. Don’t get frustrated. Be thankful someone thinks you’re worth all that effort.

19. It’s not trivial to alter the running time of a film after it’s been set. Even by a few seconds. The list of needed approvals is long.

20. Changing your environment is an efficient way to change yourself.

21. Studio work provides more job security than shot work.

22. It’s difficult to understand someone’s personality if you only see them in groups.

23. The San Francisco fog has a name, and that name is Karl. Karl has his own Twitter account.

24. In the 21st century, a fast internet connection is more valuable than a spacious apartment.

25. Handstands are not as easy as gymnasts make them look.

26. It’s easy to fool yourself into believing something false when the alternative is to admit you’ve made a mistake.

27. We are all more biased than we think we are. Biases are dangerous because they command large influence while feigning powerlessness.

28. Don’t be afraid to go it alone if you can’t convince others to join you. If you want something, then your determination shouldn’t wane when outside interest does.

29. Bridges are hard to build. Don’t burn any down without good reason.

30. It’s easy to get personally offended when people you respect disagree with you. These disagreements are not personal attacks.

31. Regularly brainstorm how to make your job more enjoyable. You’ll be surprised how many actionable things you think of.

32. Free food is the fastest way to encourage interdepartmental socialization.

33. A lot of artistry goes into making an animated film. A lot of non-artists contribute to that artistry.

34. I don’t need to live in a big city to be happy. Home is where the laptop is.

35. I spend too much time on email. You probably do too.

36. I get defensive about Nebraska stuff more easily than I thought I would. It’s a neat place guys. Honest.



Image credit: Matthew Wiebe