Exactly 100 days ago, I started doing #everyday’s. Creating a render every day, beginning with an idea in Cinema4D and finishing it just a few hours later in Photoshop before publishing it to my Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest for everybody to see, judge, critique, comment and follow (but most of all, to tell me off when I miss one).
The challenge was to create something every day. Eventually the real challenge was to get started every day. Meet the challenge and attack it. I did this for 100 days and completed it every day. The result: 100 high-resolution images which I made. That makes me pretty proud; very much in fact, considering it was the most productive time I’ve had since I was a student.
But today I’m pulling the plug. But before everybody who followed me into this adventure calls quits too, I want you to consider my reasoning and much more important: I want you to continue. If you’re doing #everyday’s and you don’t have actual problems with it, do not quit. You might even consider not reading on. That’s okay for me. I don’t want to be putting reasons in your head to quit.
#everyday’s were the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned a lot from it and it also brought back my urge to create and inspire. Something I seem to have lost over the years. Yet, I’m stopping and here is why.
There’s only 36 hours in a global day
I started the #everyday’s because I had no reason not to. I had no busy schedule that left no room for this. I had no other personal projects that required my maximum attention. However, I’m still in the middle of starting my own company which requires maximum energy. Back when I started the #everyday’s, I wasn’t pushing so hard to make this a serious success. That has changed now and #everyday’s are starting to get in the way of all that. Time management is becoming an issue. (Hold your horses: You’ll see why in a minute)
The ‘Learning curve’ stalemate
That leads me to my next reason: Time. Time is a beautiful thing. In a world where motivation, talent, energy, enthusiasm and creativity are a levelled playing field, quality is the direct result of how much time is available to the production. Now, why do I mention this ideal scenario that is never going to take place in the real world? Well, because that’s the exact scenario I have been facing for 100 days. I started doing this because I wanted to keep learning. However, at some point you can’t learn tiny tricks anymore that give you new stepping stones to awesome. I reached a point where I can’t try new things anymore, while still creating cool new things that look good without spending hours and hours and hours on a daily basis. I can only afford 30 minutes to 2 hours. However, I found myself spending 3-4 hours on most of the ‘cool‘ renders I made. I just can’t keep pulling this. Not unless I make compromises on a daily basis.
Quality over quantity
Which is my next problem. Everybody knows: You are your most annoying client. I liked being the guy who critiqued my own work and imitated the people I used to work with. I totally enjoyed finding these new perspectives and discovering my inner visual artist directing me. However, these daily ‘self-reviews‘ also led to a lot of compromise. I can’t keep on perfecting this render; it will just have to do. However, that started to lead to too much compromise. Ask any of my friends: I can look at anything for 30 seconds and tell you how I would improve it. Everything I see, touch, feel, eat, drink, smell, wear can be improved in one way or another. It’s an annoying habit but I like it. It means my mind is relentless at finding solutions to problems that may or may not exist. However, it also means that I accept defeat on a daily basis when I create something. How can I produce 7 things per week which I myself think of as ‘not ok‘. I feel like a spambot; sending an endless stream of ‘almost ok ideas‘ into the world, none of them good enough to make a difference, all of them good enough to make you wonder why I quit just 5 minutes too soon that day… I don’t feel comfortable creating these little projects that all look like crap. I believe in quality over quantity. I’d rather live up to that motto.
If ‘damage control’ is your solution, then you’re not addressing the problem.
Talking about quality: Render time was next. Again: The idea behind #everyday’s were to get better at what I do. However, I started noticing a pattern in what I’m doing these past couple of weeks. Because I have a limited time frame to work with, I started setting myself up. I use a set of techniques which I know will guarantee a certain quality. The result however is, that the render time is going up on a daily basis. It’s not difficult to create a good lucking render if you max out the render settings. Rendering one frame over 90 minutes is totally unacceptable. However, in this format of #everyday’s, it’s a cheaper solution. 90 minutes render time guarantees the quality, whereas tweaking the render could take double the time… And the 90 minute render allows me to do other stuff in the meanwhile. So you see… This process is not allowing me to improve my insights and techniques. It just enables me to use the expensive render settings. And because of my time constraints, it’s the smartest decision.
Still frames allow for a lot of post-render cheating
And that brings me to yet another reason: still frames. Currently I create a still frame every day. While this gives me massive power in Photoshop to correct a lot of wrongs, I feel like I’m cheating. A LOT. Nothing wrong with that, I’m using the tools at my disposal and I learned a lot of tricks in order to deliver results. However, it still feels like cheating. Because there’s no challenge in fixing a single frame. The actual challenge is fixing the image at 25fps (or more; you get the point).
The great distraction
So, here we are: I feel like I’m not creating cool stuff anymore OR learning a lot. I feel like I’m cheating the actual game while not being able to learn new things. Add to that: The last reason why I’m stopping. I spend ALL FUCKING DAY thinking about this: It’s the first thing that crosses my mind when I wake up, it’s the last thing I think about before going to sleep. I think about it in the shower, during breakfast and while going out for a run. I think about it during meetings with my clients and during a movie with my girlfriend. It’s consuming me. Because it has become my greatest distraction. That was not exactly where #everyday’s were supposed to go.
I could list a few more reasons but as you can see, the #everyday’s have locked me in in a pattern where I’m stuck. I can keep pushing to do this but there’s just not enough return in it at this stage.
So yes: At this point, I’m calling quits on #everyday’s. At least for now and in the current format. I’m thinking about a new format to do it in. I’m thinking about creating 5 second animations on a montly basis. Or 5 seconds per 2 weeks. Or maybe 10 seconds per month. I’m not sure yet. I want to give myself a personal challenge that never ends while still giving myself some room to breathe and experiment.
Key aspect to the change however will be the fact that I’m looking at animation instead of still frames; movement, animation, feeling the vibe, the music to match the image. The complete package. Even if I end up creating 5 second animations on a montly basis, it will allow me to do it when I’ve got some spare time, it will allow me to experiment and try new things and most of all: It will allow me to produce a little gem, every time. That’s worth more to me than 100 days of renders.
I’m still not sure where to go from here but I’ll make sure to keep you posted 😉