5 steps to a faster workflow

Thanks to his haunting sci-fi short OFF, recent animation graduate Martin Nabelek has been catching a lot of attention. Created as a final assignment for his course at Tomas Bata University, OFF was a departure from the norm as Nabelek decided that the entire film should be made in 3D.

But with a tight deadline, Nabelek had to put in a lot of careful planning to make sure the turnaround was as smooth as possible without compromising the quality of the film. The hard work was worth it though, as the result gaining him a lot of positive attention.

So how does Nabelek nail a fast rate of production? Here he shares his top five tips for improving your workflow on your own 3D movies.

01. Learn hotkeys

The first and most important thing is that if you want to focus on the design and creative parts of your project, it’s necessary to forget about the software, buttons, tabs, and and all the other technical stuff. Learning the most-used hotkeys (or even better, creating your own) will definitely help you to focus on the important things and enable you to do the repetitive stuff subconsciously, without searching for that particular button again.

02. Macroscripts and custom buttons

It’s also useful to automate tasks you do often. In 3ds Max, you can easily create your own toolbars and with just a little knowledge of MAXscript and some help from the MAXscript listener, you can automate the non‑creative and more boring parts of your workflow.

03. Create presets

Creating your own presets is beneficial, especially in After Effects. If you find yourself creating the same effects stack every single time you are post-processing a render, consider creating a default preset, so next time you will only need to tweak a few parameters instead of setting up all the effects from scratch.

04. Test your limits

Once in a while, it’s good to do an exercise where you can test your workflow against the clock. Give yourself a very tight deadline and after you’re done, try to recall the parts of the process that weren’t as smooth as you wanted and look for possible solutions in these areas.

05. Enjoy being creative

Being positive about what you are doing will help you to stay in the ‘zone’. When you are doing things you love, things tend to go lightning fast! The previous points will help you to forget about the routine clicking that comes with creating a project and allow you to focus fully on your goal. The rest is up to your imagination and creativity!

This article was originally published in 3D World magazine issue 217. Buy it here.

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Ian Dean
Editor, Digital Arts & Design

Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & Design at Creativebloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his experiences to bring the latest news on AI, digital art and video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Procreate, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.