It is wonderful to watch someone who is great at their job. Even if it is a really mundane job.
A few blocks from ILM there is a humble sandwich shop, “Marina Subs”. This isn’t Subway, where the teenager reads the directions on how to assemble your sandwich, while carrying on a conversation with the assistant manager who has probably worked there a whole month already. At Marina Subs, the owner makes all the sandwiches, and there is always a line. He does it with the precision and grace of a sushi chef. (he is Asian, by the way.) I’m amazed at how quickly he can thinly slice avacados. He’s been doing it for years and years. His work surface is a long cutting board that is worn down into shallow dips. He says he’ll have to replace it soon, as the other side has already been worn out, and he’s flipped it. Today I noticed that even his act of wrapping the sandwich had a practiced timing in the rolling of the paper, the pulling and placing of the tape and putting it in the bag. It isn’t a flourish, it’s just precise and quick. I swear it improves the taste of the sandwich.
I thought it might make a good animation exercise, to animate a character who has done something 100,000 times, and has distilled it down to a science, then raised it to an art. It reminded me of a great Buster Keaton clip.
First they set up the soda jerk who’s really good. Then Buster tries to match it and fails comically. The two shot of them working side by side with Buster watching and trying to compete really creates contrast. I can imagine Buster and the crew working all this business out. What a job, it must have been so much fun back then.