Growing up, I heard the story of “The princess and the pea” and it always confused me, it was hard for me to understand what the point of the story was. For those of you that are less familiar, it is a story by Hans Christian Andersen about a princess whose royalty is confirmed by her physical sensitivity. She was put to sleep on many layers of mattresses and under them a small pea. She was so sensitive, she could not sleep.
While as a child I didn’t get very much out of this story, today as a designer, it is making a lot of sense. And this is the pea that bugs me at night – a finished project with that little thing that isn’t right about it. Maybe it’s a button that is sticking out from the grid, maybe a shadow that gets disconnected in compositing, maybe some rotoscoping mistake or a flaw in the character rig. It is that little thing that only sensitive people pay attention to and it doesn’t let me sleep.
I actually remember of a project that I was really proud of when we finished it and shared it with our client and the public. In general, it was a really good project, the client was happy and we were proud, but as we made a little video about the compositing process, we saw some problems. Can you spot the issue? You will if you are royalty (or simply pay attention!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNu4v13PjuU
But is there a point? I think there is. Similarly to the princess in the story, her sensitivity distinguished this princess from the regular folk. It might have ruined her sleep one night, but when she exposed the problem, it was resolved, the prince and princess got married and the pea ended up in the royal museum. Those imperfections in our work that sit on the top of our minds are a reminder for us to do something about it and learn from our mistake.