Monday, December 17, 2007


I interrupt this blog to bring you an important public service announcement. I've had a few inquiries lately about the foam tubing that I put on my Wacom stylus (people saw it in my 11-Second Club critique and one of my lectures), and that got me thinking that I should use this blog to spread some more ergo knowledge. It's important to take care of your bodies, kids, if you want to be animating for the long-haul! It's not enough to buy an "ergonomic" mouse; you can have all the fancy equipment in the world but you may still get RSI if you don't have proper posture, alignment and work habits.

I first learned about Repetitive Strain Injuries when I started at Pixar in 2000, and wouldn't you know, I got it working on Monsters, Inc. Before that I had worked for 5 years on computers and never had a problem. Self-fulfilling prophecy, Pixar curse, or just a matter of time? Either way, after some physical therapy, accupuncture, ergonomics lessons and regular stretching I'm back to working pain-free. If I push myself too hard the pain returns, so part of the solution is to learn how much your body can take.

There are many kinds of RSI, the most publicized being carpal tunnel syndrome. Mine manifested more in the muscles in my shoulder and neck rather than the nerves in my wrists, but it's no less serious. I found that for me yoga and swimming are really effective in relieving the soreness and stiffness. I was lucky in that I work for a company that is very proactive about preventing and treating RSI, and we have people on staff to help us set up and use our workstations. You may not be so lucky, so please try to educate yourself. Below are some links to articles written by my friend and former Pixar Ergonomist, Shelby Cass. I hope you'll give them a read and evaluate your own work habits. Stay healthy out there!

Are You Ergonomically Correct?
What is Ergonomics?
Shelby's Web Site


  1. I once started having a little bit of wrist pain from mousing. I was very proactive and looked for a better mouse before it became serious. I found the Countour Perfit mouse which looks strand and feels way too big at first. Here it is years later and I have never gotten pain again since using this along with the other ergo friendly habits I already had.

  2. Yeah, RSI is a big problem among animators and, really, anyone who works on a computer for long periods of time.

  3. Sweet! I'd forgotten that it was because of your class in AM that I got a Wacom to begin with, and over 2 years later (whoa!), it's definitely been a lifesaver. The shooting pain I was getting in my right arm after 2 semesters of 3-button-mousing in AM disappeared right after I got the Wacom, and I haven't had any real RSI issues in the last year I've been in 12+hr/day crunch at various studios. :) Thank you! :)

  4. I've had to drastically cut back my graphic design work because of RSI. Thanks for bringing up this most important issue. I'm sure it's a greater problem than most people realize.

    Rob, I'm thinking of giving that Contour Perfit mouse a try.

  5. May be useful link pertaining to ergonomics:

  6. Thanks a lot Victor! Your blog is of a great help! Thanks for the animation tips and news too!

  7. This is very useful information, thanks for all the info & links. Ergonomics is definitely easily overlooked at most companies.