20/20

20-mile marching. I've written and talked about this a lot, but I think it's important. Like super important.

The beautiful thing about 20-mile marching is that it just works. It works like a goddamn precise clock that never dies. It's incredible. I've long been a fan of the concept, but I really live and breathe it now. The best part is that I'm not overworking myself anymore and yet I'm still accomplishing a lot.

Behind the Cinematic was built on the premise of 20-mile marching. I consistently add to it and improve it, but I don't kill myself for it. And it just keeps growing, getting better, and pushes me to be my best. There's really no downside to 20-mile marching. There may be a slight short term loss, but you surpass other people in the long run. And it doesn't even take that long to do more than people who work all the time. Because when you're well-rested and have all your wits about you, you can very easily do better than the people who are running on fumes.

And, of course, I made a video about it. So, even if you don't read Great by Choice, you should watch this video. And when you're done, read about Amundsen and Scott. And then read this for more information. Haha, do whatever you want. :)

Bailey

The 20-Mile March

I've talked a lot of talk about 20-Mile Marching over the years, but I finally created an actual video about it. Check it out!

About a year ago I wrote an article about 20-Mile Marching. It's got the elements that are in the video, with some more details on the matter:

Lastly, if ya like posters, there's a poster that you can buy and hang on your wall:

Work smart and rest well!

Bailey

More 20-Mile Marching

This has been a good week. Now that I'm feeling really good about what my objectives are, my mind can just focus on getting things done. Knowing what not to do is a freeing experience. I recommend it.

In addition to this, I decided to keep better track of my 20-mile marching. I have 3 calendars on my wall, and each day I get to add a satisfying x when I hit my minimum performance goal. Why 3 calendars? Each one represents some aspect of my business strategy. So far so good.

Speaking of 20-mile marching, I decided it was time to dedicate an article to the subject. I wrote about it in the blog last January, but now it has a permanent home in the Learn section of the site. If you've never heard of this concept, or are a little hazy on the details, go read it! I tried my best to make it easy to understand. My hope is that it is a useful resource that people can refer to or send to their friends. I even made a poster that people can print out. :)

Bailey


A Bay, Bai Holiday

What a week! I was on vacation for the first time since I started Forma. I went to San Francisco! Here's some of what I did (like seeing Pixar):

Calvin and Hobbes

I had the opportunity to see a real Calvin and Hobbes painting by the one and only Bill Watterson. What you see here is an actual photo of the real thing. I was beside myself!

A portion of the full painting.

A portion of the full painting.

I think I stared at this painting for at least fifteen minutes. Bill Watterson is one of the handful of artists whose work inspired me to pursue art. So, it was meaningful to me in a big way.

Industrial Light & Magic

For years I've wanted to head over to the Presidio to check out the place that I've admired for ages. So, I finally did! It was absolutely gorgeous. I can say it is one of the most beautiful campuses I've ever seen. Wonderful, clean landscapes combined with stunning architecture, bay views, and the looming Golden Gate Bridge give ILM a very lovely home.

It was a gorgeous day too.

It was a gorgeous day too.

Pixar

I had the rare opportunity to see Pixar Animation Studios. I was pretty excited because Pixar is, well...Pixar! Their movies were inspiring to me as a kid, just like they were for so many of us. My friend and collaborator Colin Levy (who works there) was kind enough to show me around. Thanks, man!

Yay!

Yay!

I got to see a lot of cool things they had there, like a giant Luxo Jr. lamp, beautiful facilities, and the big paintings that adorned the interiors. There were things I wasn't allowed to see or photograph, but what I could see was pretty darn neat.

Yikes!

Yikes!

Colin is on the left. I'm on the right.

Colin is on the left. I'm on the right.

The campus was beautiful, elegantly designed, and altogether playful. But the best thing, of course, was getting to hang out with Colin. Pixar was a nice backdrop, but ultimately it was the excellent conversation that made the day great. What a stellar dude! He's a layout artist at Pixar, but he's also directed a bunch of short films on his own. Go check out his work if you haven't yet. :)

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Overall, I had a great time. I saw a lot, hung out with good friends, and spent some time with family. In keeping with my 20 mile marching mantra, a vacation was just what I needed. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my work that I forget to slow down for a little while. And I can say that it did me good. Lots of thinking time, inspiration, and relaxation.

So, I'm back to work now. Lots to do! :)

Bailey

20 Mile Marching

The climb out of the darkness is going well. Because it's near the end of the project, my days have been filled with finalizing art and animation.

Here are some cool buds in the video I'm making. If you know me, you may recognize some or all of these critters as real life pals from years ago!

Man's best friends!

Man's best friends!

I'm animated a lot right now too. I think that curve editors look pretty. Check out this collection of animation curves for a couple objects in a scene (a plant and a speech bubble).

Animation curves! This is what I look at while I work.

Animation curves! This is what I look at while I work.

20 Mile Marching

I'm working a lot right now, which has left me to think about pacing and taking care of myself. So, this week I'm going to ponder on the term "20 Mile Marching". I talk about it all the time, and I first read about in Jim Collin's book "Great by Choice."

What is it? It's a term used to describe a way of working and thinking. In simple terms, it's about achieving consistent performance with both and upper and lower bounds. We need both the ambition to achieve and the self-control to hold back.

In the book, they describe an example of two people on an expedition across the country. One person marches 20 miles every day, rain or shine. No less (so it's a hurdle to overcome), but no more (so he doesn't overexert himself). Some days it's easy to march 20 miles, and some days it's not, but every day always only 20 miles.

In contrast, the second person begins marching on the first day and feeling excited, he marches 40 miles. Exhausted on the second day, he wakes to find that it's extremely hot outside, so he waits inside his tent for a better day to go out. He continues this behavior of overexertion on good days to make up for lost time, followed by weakened days where he doesn't march at all. But when a powerful storm hits (metaphor for a trying time in business), it nearly kills him and he is forced to wait for better weather.

By the time this second person stumbles past the half-way mark to his goal, our 20 mile marcher is nearing the end. The person who paced himself will cross the finish line by a huge margin. He had the ambition to achieve in bad times and self-control to hold back in good times. In other words, he had the strength to persevere during bad times because he hadn't spent all his resources during the good times.

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It's so tempting for artists to push themselves hard to achieve their goals. We want to be good. We want to earn the respect of our peers. We want to earn enough money to feel secure. Naturally we figure that if we push ourselves to our limits, we have a better chance of achieving these worthy goals.

However, ceaseless exertion of our talents isn't going to do it. I've worked hard in my years. I've been up at the ungodly hours of the night, working and working. I'm ambitious as hell, and I obsess in a way that can lead to frustration. Of course we need to exert our talents ambitiously and obsessively, but we need to do so smartly. Wailing on a cave wall with a spoon is not the smartest way to dig.

As much as I hate it, I have finally accepted the fact that I am a not a robot. I too must heed the 20 mile march. I'm also a physical creature who actually needs to sleep at night, eat right, and stay active in physical ways. But it's hard because creating with my brain and my hands is very engaging. Why stop at 11pm to sleep? Animating this character is fun! Why spend the time to make a nutritious snack? Reading tips on cinematography is much more interesting. And why would I ever want to stop storyboarding a chase scene so I can go for a real run that will only leave me drenched in sweat and pain?

But humans need more than that, they need brain stimulation (or lack thereof) too. We need social connection with other humans (especially those we love), and time spent letting our brains rest from our work. I used to think that when I let my brain rest from my work, I was slacking off. I wasn't being dedicated, and if I liked resting, it meant I didn't like art as much as an artist should. The truth is that I love art, and I usually can't stop thinking about it. I don't doubt my conviction as an artist. So, I've found that when I free my mind to think about other things, like how a bike works or laughing at a funny puppet video, I find that my art benefits.

Daydreaming and thinking about "useless" stuff can really pay off. Of course, you can't just do that, but that goes without saying. When I do rest, I'm giving my brain a chance to make subconscious connections that I hope will lead to an epiphany. You know those "ah-ha" moments when an idea feels like it "comes" to you? That's your brain making a connection between two things that you had thought hard about individually, but not together. You can't know when a connection will happen, but you can increase the odds by developing the right environment for them. It starts by giving your brain a chance to wander. And by the way, I'm not saying anything new here. I've read books on this stuff.

So, letting myself rest with a 20 mile march regimen has helped me so much that I feel it's worth telling everyone I know about it. It's about balance. We should work hard everyday, but we must also rest well everyday. I can't tell you how many artist I've encountered who are burned out, apathetic, frustrated, and plain ol' sleepy. They need to pace themselves. And if they work at a company, the company needs to stop forcing them to not pace themselves. The big companies in the industry don't understand 20 Mile Marching, and it's hurting their teams of artists. It makes me sad.

Resisting the urge to work a lot when you have lots to do and the energy to do it is not easy and it's downright un-intuitive. So, think of it like a Chinese finger trap, you know those toys we used to play with as kids? The trick to escaping our entrapment is not to push harder against our cement walls. It's by taking a step back, planning, and making a proper vault over the obstacle in the morning...after we've got a good night's rest in us.

Work smart and rest well, my friends.

Bailey