Friday, October 28, 2011

The Difference Between Being Influenced By and Copying Someone Else's Work

No artist develops in a vacuum. From the moment we open our eyes, we are affected by what we see and feel. Some things attract us in a pleasing way, while others repel us. It is natural for us to want to grow close to and possess that which pleases us. As artists learning to crawl creatively, we naturally copy the work of those we like. Copying another artist's work develops your hand and eye coordination, which (in traditional 2D animation) is essential in being able to understand how to follow a character model sheet and keep your poses "on model".

The danger is that sometimes copying becomes a crutch which some young artists never throw down...and that cripples your creative growth.

Study the why's and how's of your favorite artist's work. Imitate that artist as a young bird would imitate its parents' flapping of their wings... but learn those lessons and principles that make for pleasing design, so that you can soar on your own into new territories...and not trudge along the well worn paths that were created in the past.

Pleasing designs are created by universal truths...and audiences are always interested in a fresh take on universal truths.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Forms and Forces By Master Animator Bill Tytla

Here are some rough poses of Dopey slapping water out of his ear. These are drawings of pure forces affecting form. Based on frame by frame study of the finished scene, this is a cycle where the last drawing hooks up to the first with 3 inbetweens.

These drawings appeared in the August 1970 issue of CARTOONIST PROfiles as illustrations for I. Klein's article about his friend Bill Tytla, who had passed away on December 29, 1968 at the age of 64.

Dopey Pose 1

Dopey Pose 2

Dopey Pose3

Dopey Pose 4

Dopey Pose 5

Dopey Pose 6. Hooks up to Pose 1 with three (3) inbetweens.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Motion Capture Is NOT Animation

Calling the process of Motion Capture "animation" is like calling tracing a photograph onto a sheet of paper "freehand drawing."

Using Motion Capture (or Performance Capture) is basically 21st Century rotoscoping. I don't call this's special effects. The process of taking the movement of a live actor's performance and transferring it to a design created in computer, is basically no different than encasing something that already has been recorded with a layer of effects to enhance its appearance.

Animation is feeling the movement within one's self and imparting it to a design through your pencil, stylus, or fingers.

Motion Capture is just a new form of tracing...on film instead of on paper. Yes, the technician layering a graphic design over the frames of Motion Capture has to manipulate the design at times...but that is the same as adding an effect, not creating the performance from scratch.

Animating is creating from scratch the physical performance one sees on the screen. Just as a live actor does, an animator feels the emotion within him/herself, then projects those feelings as a performance on paper or the computer screen.

Okay, I open the floor to you for your comments.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Thumbnail Timing #1

Here is an example of how I will do a basic run though of a scene between two characters.

This is from "The Devil and Daniel Mouse" (1977-78). Jan (the female mouse) is dejected and saying, "Maybe we just better quit," as Dan walks alongside her, switching his guitar case from one hand to the other.

Thumbnailing a scene like this is more than thinking about the posing, it involves how to think through the characters' particular timing so that they have a different energy, even if only slightly so. Being able to see the timing charts alongside each other is like seeing the music bars for two different instruments that are playing the same piece of music, but are accompanying each other, not playing the same notes with the same emphasis.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

How Long Does It Take To Finish A Clean Up? #2

I ended my previous post on this subject with the statement: "As long as animation is treated purely as a manufactured product, the art of animation will never develop past what it has been in the past."

The critical word in that statement is "purely". Of course animated films in essence are manufactured in that thousands of images have to be created and linked together to form the final piece, product, or however you want to describe it. To me, what kills the art is treating each drawing as "piece work".

I know that a certain amount of work needs to be done each week in order to make a deadline. What I object to is the attitude of "Let's set the budget of this project as cheaply as we can and beat the drawings out of everyone."

An example of a manufacturing attitude: Stories are boarded as though everything can be animated fully, and then toss the burden onto the contracting studios to "make it work." 

I learned very early on: Don't treat each scene as though it was equal to another...there are "money" scenes and there are scenes that can be done cheaply. Put the effort (money) where necessary and balance it out with easy scenes. I learned this from animators like Johnny Gentilella and Marty Taras (who were veteran Fleischer/Paramount/Terrytoons animators).

When I first started in the animation industry, I quickly became an assistant animator doing clean-up on "Tubby the Tuba". There I was assigned a mix of hard and easy scenes so that I could hit my weekly footage quotas. Even though I was on a salary, we still needed to keep one eye on completing a minimum amount of work each week. I have used that basic formula in everything I've done in my animation career (which hasn't ended).