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).


  1. In our modern world of economics, this approach is the only one possible. Howard Beckerman said he didn't believe in limited animation, he thought of it as "enough" animation. If a scene had to be fully animated, so be it. If another could work well with just an eye blink, that's what it called for.

    Somehow I always started out with this concept but (when animating myself) kept adding more and more drawings. The characters usually determine how many drawings were "enough". It wasn't up to me.

  2. OT, but I've wanted to start animating but I haven't really know WHERE to start. I've been drawing my way through the Preston Blair book but I think I was sort of putting off trying to learn it because I didn't know how to go about it. Should I start with walk cycles or...?

  3. "Enough" animation...I like that.

    Incidentally, I love Howard's book on making animation. It's worth reading for beginners.

  4. Amanda:

    Animating a walk is one of the most difficult actions to animate, I wouldn't start there.

    I'm assuming you have the edition that combines both of Preston Blair's earlier large-sized books.

    If so, I suggest you begin your study of animation the way all of us "Old School" types did before there was the proliferation of animation courses being offered by schools...we simultaneously used Preston Blair's books to study the principles of animation (starting on page one), and also did an enormous amount of quick sketches from real life.

    The quick sketch forces you as an animator to observe and (with your pencil) capture attitudes very quickly onto paper. That would be your first step.

    Hope that helps.