The “Something is Missing” Methodology for Solving Complicated Problem

Over the three-month brainstorming on story development with client, with laughs and frustrations, we eventually approached the expected feeling in an important morning in June, 2018 – “yep, that’s what we want J”.

Looking back, I feel two of the important things we did right are:

  1. Acknowledge that “Something is Missing” when we don’t feel right on the ongoing story
  2. Persistent on the above item to progress

For the first item, it accepts the imperfection of the state of the story, which opens the door for inviting any possible ideas to fix the story. The second item, chains the first item as a series of actions to arrive the destination.

Although the methodology was effective for story development, it may be a good methodology for any complicated problem that is similar to story development. Because story development is a process whose result is difficult to foresee. During this process, a lot new ideas come in, which is unlikely to know in the beginning.


For the first film, I am not going to make it perfect. Instead, focus on deliverables, and fast iteration.

Do research on each stage of animation.

I’m excited on the final stage – production. Because I can do research on rendering!

Real-Time Global Illumination

Path tracing is too expensive, radiosity seems like the right way.

Questions to step forward:

  • Is there a way to transform geometry representation into a different form, so that light hits the geometry in a more computational efficient way to get the energy on that surface?
    • Transform the surface to a different space
    • Get the energy to that surface


  • Do a thorough evaluation of global illumination
  • Understand radiosity
  • Understand geometry representation
    • Check “Geometric Algebra for Computer Science” to find a transformed geometric representation in a different space than in 3D space, so that the energy (light) received by the geometry stays invariant or commutative in both spaces, yet is more computational efficient in the “different space”. if such a transformed geometric representation can be found, computer graphics would not need the expensive path-tracer for global illumination

Empower Hires

For a small animation studio, one efficient way of empowering hires to create the best work is being able to challenge and analyze the kind of work done by hires. This could be approached by doing research on the area, understanding pros and cons. Like a CTO.

Medium in Movies: Alike, Paperman, Forrest Gump


Story is about father discovers his love for his son. Father’s love for his son is demonstrated in the beginning by his color recovered by hugs with his son after work. The son learning writing is the medium on which the diminishment and recovery of love play. Learning writing comes from a common sense of school. Engagement of audience is enhanced by eye touches of father and son, and father’s poses at the end.

It’s very smart that the movie takes advantage of the power of poses to intuitively connect and engage the audience. If the son is able to draw for learning writing at the end, instead of the father do the poses of playing violin, audience would feel less engaged and fulfilled.


Paper is the medium for starting the story. It comes from the guy holding the paper in the begging.

Forrest Gump

Feather has been throughout the story as the medium for untold purpose – it comes from heaven and it follows common sense.

Just Draw

Stuck at storyboarding of animated film n not know how to fix the issue.

Next: just draw. Draw anything you like. Then you’ll come up with the idea

Keep Moving: Storyboard to Animatic

Hit the first issue developing the film: reconcile critics of the storyboard. Exciting!

Problem: my friend, Henry, a professional animator, pointed out that the storyboard is wrong in a lot ways, which my client and I weren’t aware of. Specifically, the order of which the characters appear is wrong – they should all appear in the first place, and go through the entire storyboard. Whereas in the current storyboard, the characters appear at different times.

Discussion: Henry’s criticism makes sense to me, but I don’t understand why all characters should appear in the first place and go through the entire storyboard. For the story we’re developing, is Henry’s opinion better than what we have now?

Solution: answer the following questions:

  • Why should all characters appear in the first place for all types of story?
  • If yes, figure out what’s wrong in the current storyboard, and adjust the storyboard for all characters to appear in the first place
  • If no, stick with the current storyboard, then keep moving to animatic by researching art direction

Edited Solution: it’s reconciled by adding voice on each scene to convey the key message. In the current storyboard, the main characters indeed go across the entire storyboard, but they don’t look obvious to the audience without knowing the key message. Because key message help the audience understand which are the main characters, and which are characters for assisting the story. Example of multi-characters in one story with narratives: It’s So Brill by Animade [1].

Thought: it feels challenged and frustrated and lost when Henry told me that the story is wrong. Because my client and me worked deliberately on every bit of the development of story and storyboard for a month. However, that’s good challenge. The point is to stay calm to figure out the real issue. Henry essentially got lost of the story in front of all the characters, so we need to convey the story to the audience. That way, the audience understand which are the main characters, and which are for assisting the story. The solution is to use voice-over to narrate the key message of each scene, because we do have concrete key messages to back the story.


[1] London animation studio | Animade. It’s So Brill.


It has always been short time spent with Daddy. But your kindness has been growing in my heart for forever. It makes me be me. The freedom you gave me to be myself, the visit to your friend during his captivity to care about him when I was a kid, all formed the beauty in me. Thank you, Daddy~!

The Beauty of Developing Animated Film with Client Not Knowing Animation Techniques

Everyone has the sense of aesthetics, which is enough to guide animated films. That’s beautiful.

Focusing on the technical side of developing animated films when working with the first client, it could easily forget my belief of founding Dopamine Animatic: animation could be purely guided by aesthetics, which exists in everyone. Dopamine Animatic is here to address technical difficulties, and facilitate the aesthetic in client’s mind. Here comes the question: how to avoid forgetting to ask client about aesthetic opinions, such as art directions of character style, color palette, dimension, and music?

In Dopamine Animatic, we work with client to develop the story, during which both the client and Dopamine Animatic obtain a deeper understanding of the story, as well as facilitate the sense of aesthetics for the film. It was not until a quiet evening that the client’s imagination of the art direction of the film as we discussed in the previous meeting came to my mind, and I found it is exactly the goal of Dopamine Animatic – take client’s sense of aesthetics to guide the art style of the film.

Thank to the quiet evening to pure the inspiration to my mind to answer the question: during each meeting, no matter how technical it is, always ask client’s opinion of anything related to the style, aesthetic of the film. That should be the default habit of Dopamine Animatic.