I have that trouble too. I have an idea and I start on it but it takes so long from design to the finished product that the idea often fizzles out or I wasn’t able to make the scene how I wanted. So, I think the time between idea and product has a lot to do with it. Just recently, though, I found an excellent tool for motivation - Terragen.
It basically lets you render landscapes but you can make absolutely beautiful, photorealistic scenes within minutes. The only limit to the free version is that you can only render up to 1200x960 but that’s big enough for most purposes and you can import the scenes into Blender if you need higher res stuff done or easy control over your animation. The URL is:
(it’s for Windows and Mac only so far, I’m afraid)
It also gives you enough parameters to make your images look unique - check out some of the galleries on the link (especially the bottom one).
If you’re not into landscapes, I would say that the best thing to do with animation is stick with each project to the end. It does take a long time: Pixar take about 5 years to get each of their projects from idea to cinema screen and they’ve got about 60 animators on each film, not to mention CG artists, voice cast, texture and environment artists. On the dvd extras you hear the crew saying things like they’ve seen the sequences so many times that they don’t find them funny any more - that’s why they use test audiences for feedback before they release their work. But what would happen if they had just abandoned their projects half-way? We wouldn’t have Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo. To be honest, they haven’t made all that many films either (about 5 maybe) but they’re still the biggest players in animation.
Another thing I’ve learnt is that it’s more depressing having loads of half-baked animations, renders etc. than if you maybe had a decent short animation along the lines of knick-knack or luxo. Just make sure it’s original, though - I’ve done luxo because I wanted to do one but for a showreel or such, it should be unique. Take Nick Park, who did the Wallace and Gromit movie. I still laugh my socks off when I see that clip where Gromit gets hit in the face with the jam. It only lasts 2 minutes but the facial expressions are hilarious.
Here’s a website with some info about Wallace & Gromit. Down at the bottom of the page there are some short animated gifs from the movies.
If you lack inspiration, there are a million fiction books out there and comics who do sketches that you can use. I think the best success story I’ve heard is of the guy who did the alien song animation. It’s basically an animation of a one eyed green alien singing “I will survive” with lines like “so you’re back from outer space
I just walked in to find you here
with that sad look upon your face”
and with that the animator secured a place at Pixar. His website is at:
Also, if you go to the first link http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2402301 there are a few other short animations you can check out. I wasn’t overly impressed with the Monty Python animation but it’s been downloaded over 200,000 times.