To struggle with perfectionism is very common. How can you avoid getting caught up in the details while maintaining a high quality of work? This week we are looking at a question from a student about balancing excellence with perfectionism.
STUDENT QUESTION: How can you balance excellence with perfectionism?
JOHN-CLAY: This is a really important question. I’m a firstborn, I’m very perfectionist, I’m very OCD about things, and I’m super detail oriented about just everything, really to a fault.
Something that’s really helpful for me is deadlines and forcing people to give me deadlines. If they’re just like, “Oh, anytime,” I have to know what your deadline is. And then something my dad taught me was, it’s better to have a project that you can present to a client that’s 80% done, than to have 50% of a project that’s 100% done at your deadline. So learning to think about projects in a sense of, you need to be able to have start to finish, and if you only have four hours, major on that. Get the whole thing at least to a stage of done. And then if you have extra time you can go in and finesse and tweak and adjust all these little things.
But if I was hiring somebody, I don’t want them coming to me at noon at the deadline and saying, “Well, it’s 75% there.” I want to be able to see the whole project because then we can still make adjustments and shift off of that, but I need to be able to see a beginning and I needed to be able to see an ending. I’ve met people who work in a way when they edit, they finish five minutes as a chunk, and they’re making a 25-minute episode of something. I mean finished music, color grade and everything, five minutes at a time, and they’re always two or three weeks over schedule.
So it doesn’t really do a lot of good to be that over the top with detail. Even if it’s supposed to be a 25-minute episode, give me a 45-minute version within a week. At least we can watch a beginning and an ending and you just work down from there. But don’t get too caught up in the details.Don't worry about fine tuning until you decide if you even need the scene, because you can sit and spend so much time wordsmithing and then realize the whole scene's getting cut. Click To Tweet
I’m not really great at writing, and I like to wordsmith, which is change all the words and the punctuation and all those things. And someone said, “Don’t worry about that until you decide if you even need the scene, because you can sit and spend so much time wordsmithing and then realize the whole scene’s getting cut.” Some of this is unavoidable in life and you can’t always avoid throwing out stuff and having some wasted time, but that’s been very helpful for me to be able to step back, learn to think big picture, start to finish, and start working in passes.
I like to edit in the pass. I like to be able to do color grade all at one time, instead of getting caught up in the little detailed things, and try to budget that in. And it’s also learning to know how much time something’s going to take, and then calculate for some more time. You’re like, “Well, I can do that in an hour.” Calculate for two because then, if you get it done, you have a little extra time to go do the little tweaks you want to do to kind of make yourself happy, because the client may not care. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, it all varies per project. But think big picture. Make sure they major on those things first and then hone down from there as you’re able.