What I listen to while drawing/animating

In Richard Williams’ legendary animation book The Animator’s Survival Kit a whole page is dedicated to the reaction he got from Disney animator and legend Milt Kahl when he asked if he  (Kahl) ever listened to classical music while animating. This is the reaction he got:


I highly agree with this when it comes to animating. My work greatly improves if I shut everything out, which is why I and many of my classmates enjoyed our studio space in Central Saint Martins. It was hidden away in a remote part of the building, closed of from the hallway and had no windows, it was few distractions and very calm and quiet.

Here’s a link to see the whole studio from when Google Maps came to visit us in April to take pictures for a virtual tour of the uni.

(You can see us working there on our final films, pretty cool to have that a little frozen moment from our six months of hard work!)

Back to music, or not. Like I said, I don’t listen to anything while animating as it actually requires my full attention. Animating forces you to think about movement, acting, timing, expression in both the body and face, if it’s readable, if it’s long enough, short enough and so on. I sometimes have my headset on while animating, but don’t listen to anything. It’s to avoid people from disturbing me as many won’t bother you if they think you’re listening to something 😉 So no music and preferably no sound at all while animating. When I’m inbetweening, doing clean up, colouring or drawing in general though, that’s another story, then I NEED something to listen to!

After the keyframes are done and timing is planed out that’s when I start listening to something again cause from there it gets easier. I still need to pay attention, but I don’t have to think as much just do as it’s mostly planed out. It also gets more and more boring if you ask me, the fun part is to act, plan the keyframes and figure out the timing, from there is just about finishing it up and then I need entertainment, so here is a list of what I listen to.

#1: Music – but not all music

I’m usually a rock and roll fan and listen to songs constantly through the day, but I can’t listen to that while working, I’m getting too restless So instead I listen to instrumental music, often soundtracks from movies or classical music. I like Grieg, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Beethoven,  Philip Glass and so on. I also listens to soundtracks from movies both animated and live action, some of my favourite movie composers are John Powell, Michael Giacchino, James Newton Howard, John Williams and Hans Zimmer, Alan Silverstri and Danny Elfman.

I prefer instrumental music over songs as I tend to get caught up in lyrics, especially if I like the song, instrumental scores can also inspire me or get me in the right mood of the scene while working which makes me put more emotion in.

#2 Movie reviews


Since a classmate introduced me to Nostalgia Critic back on my bachelor degree in 2008 Doug Walker’s reviews as the Nostalgia Critic has been something I have listened to while working on many of my creative projects. I slowly started to branch out to several others too and as of now I have several different reviewers I listen to, but here are the five I listen to the most: Nostalgia Critic, Film Brain, Chez Lindsay, Chris Stuckman and AniMat. I also want to mention one that is my absolute favourite although he doesn’t only do movie reviews: I hate everything and his Search for the worst which is the one playlist I come back to the most. Never gets old or unfunny.

All of these have a humorous approach to their reviews, but also a genuine knowledge and understanding of movies. They also cover a very big spectre, both animation and live action, both new and old, both good and bad. They also analyse more than just movies themselves but also story structure, film language, genres and character types.

I am very familiar to analysing movies myself, all the way from my days back in high school all through my studies and now wanting to make movies I find it highly interesting to listen to other people’s experiences of movies and their analysis of why somethings work or why it don’t. I do often agree with them and their opinions can open my mind to see flaws that could have been solved better.

I am NOT one of those who feel that reviewers are ruining movies by having personal opinions!

And since I don’t have the time myself to analyse movies that much any more I enjoy listening to others do it. Here are links to all of the reviewers I listed up, check them out!

Channel Awesome (Nostalgia Critic):


Film Brain (Mathew Buck):



Chez Lindsay (Lindsay Ellis):


Chris Stuckman:


ElectricDragon505 (AniMat):


I hate everything (Alex):


#3 True scary stories


This is a big one! I don’t remember when I first started listening to these scary narrations but I think it’s about a year back, I managed to get almost everyone in the studio interested too while working on the final films. These videos are simply people narrating allegedly true stories from people. It can be quite scary, but I mainly find it interesting and actually quite relaxing, it’s put me to sleep many times. The nice thing about these are also that the videos often are very long with a compilation of many shorter stories that don’t acquire much of the listener. Many of these narrators, while not professionals, are often very talented so if you like narrations it’s worth giving them a listen!

Lazy Masquerade: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7dHBh9QmYF1L0TOeGIzZgw

Corpse Husband: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFNTq9XKHDNy_1-2lL0kqCg

Be. Busta: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-ir6MfYIuyvVJS_DhOhcJw

Urmaker: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU32e_18BT3uNoVt9qRQVwA

Blue Spooky: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBbvY9gPIOYwNp8l9WWIOjg

Joey’s Nightmares: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNxxcVIpO5_B-a6ArUn_v_g

As well as scary stories I also want to mention other scary videos I listen to. These are more on crimes, unsolved mysteries and legends also very entertaining so check out these channels:

Rob Dyke:


Cayleigh Elise:


Top 5s:


#4 Podcast


Since I live in London and have no Norwegian friends here ( I don’t miss it, don’t worry about me, I only have things to talk about with other animators anyway) I don’t hear much Norwegian being talked, other than on my podcasts. This is not doing wonders for my Norwegian spoken language by the way, my family complains that I don’t have a clear accent anymore which if frowned upon in Norway!

So I have four podcast that I listen that are in Norwegian, these are Radioresepsjonen, Misjonen på P4, Lørdagsrådet and Verdens rikeste land. All these are radio based programs in Norway and all are very funny, especially the first two I mentioned have had my more or less break down or spill my tea with laughter in the studio many times with my colleges asking me if I’m okay. It’s pretty embarrassing as the jokes often works better in Norwegian so sometimes I have to turn of the podcast and go for a short walk to calm myself down before I can keep working…

I also have a few English speaking podcasts I listen to that are worth checking out, these are Serial, The Bancroft brothers animation podcast and Psychology in everyday life: the psych files.

#5 Audio books

Love those, I have listen to many a book that I’ve found either in Youtube or audio book sites. They often take for ever to get through and that’s just what is needed. An example from uni is when I was doing my micro short during the first year and managed to listen through ALL of the Harry Potter books, which is around 117 hours long!

#6 Documentaries

I LOVE documentaries and I’ve watched countless of them through the years. My prefered documentaries follows what I’ve already mentioned that I listen to, so movies, the story behind movies, animation, crimes, murders, mysteries and so on.

So yeah, that’s about it, this was a long post wasn’t it! Hope you can find something to listen to or watch among these suggestions there really is some fantastically creative and talented content creators on this list that is worth checking out.


One thought on “What I listen to while drawing/animating

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s