Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Organizing your Animation work: Part 1

Ok, recently, I was going over how to do a Pose Test, having my students figure out their scenes by filling out X Sheets and adding timing charts to their animation Key drawings. Then putting all this information into a Scene Folder as if they were handing off their rough animation scenes to someone else to inbetween and clean up.

I talked about the process of pose to pose animation, but unless you actually prepare a Scene folder for yourself, its all just words in the air. And so, when I got all the scene folders back from my students, I could see that I needed to go over this process by reviewing the process in a little more detail.

Learning drawing animation takes time, patience and practice as well as learning from ones mistakes. And we work towards learning the animation principles to create a story that our audience will eventually see. However, there is another part of the animation process that Animators must learn in order to keep the process organized and moving toward to the final product.

This production work is the behind the scenes stuff that your audience will not see or even care about. The kind of stuff, 2D animation studios invented long ago to keep the work moving forward and under control as it went through the different production stages of Layout, Rough Animation, Clean Up and finally as the final Render

Here are a few things that you can do to keep the 2D Animation production processes alive and well. 

The Pose Test

As simple as this sounds, its very important that every Animator label their drawings in the same way to help keep everything consistent. Often Animators will do their rough posing to figure out the motion in the scene, jot down drawing numbers in the corner and then shoot a pose test to figure out the best timing. 

Shooting the Keys along with the missing inbetweens will show the Key poses popping from one pose to the next. This is a preview to the final action and an experienced Animator can tell how the scene will look once all the missing inbetweens have been added later.

The Animator will show his work to the Director who may have him revise something or approve it. The goal is to keep the Animator working on the animation as quickly as possible and the Animator's assistant is to help refine the Animator's roughs and figure out the Inbetweens. The Assistant will also fix up the drawing numbering, refine the timing charts and keep the character(s) on model throughout the scene.

Labelling Drawings

Let's start with a sheet of animation bond. After you have worked out some Key poses on several sheets, all Keys need to be circled to show they are the Key poses and not Breakdowns or the Inbetween drawings. Breakdowns should be underlined and you don't have to do anything to the Inbetweens.

As a team of 2D artists, everyone must keep their characters looking as if one person has drawn them, this is known keeping the drawings "on model", something that doesn't happen in 3D animation.

Here's a Milt Kalh drawing. You can see he has a timing chart in the upper right and a # 4 in the lower right corner. 

This is the animator's key frame which has been cleaned up by an assistant animator, notice cross register lines and the line across the bottom of the drawing. This might be the camera framing.

All animation drawings must be labeled with a letter and a number. So, if you draw a glass of water in your scene, don't write it as Glassofwater 1, rather shorten it a one letter; G1.
Sometimes you might have a scene that has a series of G drawings for other objects or the first letter of character's name in the scene. If you have a character named Gary who has to pick up a Glass of water which sits on a Glass table, you need to relabel each layer with a   second letter to show the difference, so G for Gary, W for Glass of water and T for Table.

Again as I write this, I think, isn't this obvious. Do I have to really write all this out? But as an animation instructor, I want my students to learn the right way to produce their animation and learn the process that makes sense

I've noticed that students will label their drawings as tiny as possible, some in the lower right hand corner of the paper as requested. But others, will lable in the lower left, upper right or upper left hand corner of the paper as well. If it was possible, they would label the edges of their paper.  

Back when the world was black and white, the drawings were labelled in the lower right for the cameraman see what drawings he was going to shoot on his Oxberry animation stand.
All the drawings were labelled the same to allow the cameraman to shoot them quickly and accurately in a dark room, under two hot movie lights aimed at the artwork below.
ALL DRAWINGS, even its only one, MUST BE LABELED IN THE LOWER RIGHT HAND CORNER OF THE PAPER. Big enough to view from a distance. Many students think this info will be seen on screen and either draw it very lightly or very, very small. These same students are in shock when it comes to drawing timing charts on their Keys.

Timing Charts

Timing Charts are the Animator's notes to the Inbetweener explaining how the inbetween drawings should be drawn from the Keys. Each Key has a timing chart on it with that Key number circled on top of the chart. Here are a few examples of the various timing charts and what they do.

The timing chart below shows the inbetween action as an "Ease In " or slowing down to stop at B9.
Here are two Timing charts, the first shows an "Ease Out" where B9's inbetweens are speeding up as it gets to B13. The second chart shows "Constant Motion" of B9 moving into B 25 position. Below are Keys B13 and B25. X1 is the arms holding the bat on a separate layer.

Notice the T/B B1 beside the character's left foot. This indicates a "Trace Back" where the assistant animator needs to redraw that foot exactly, so it doesn't slide around during the scene. Little notations like this are all over an Animator's drawings and are removed during the cleanup process.

Timing Charts need to make sense and are not sloppy.

But Wait, there's more!
Visit: Organizing your Animation work: Part 2!

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