Day 96 @ ITP: Animation

Today I am attempting to start my final animation in Unreal, after going through a few tutorials and playing a bit with the architecture of the program, I still a feel a bit lost but am excited by the possibilities. It also seems that not all the content packs are compatible with High Sierra, so most likely I think I will just be trying to get creative with the starter materials, of which there are a lot. I don't usually work with humans too much, I prefer working with abstract colors/shapes or animals if I am drawing. But it will be a good challenge! Right now my character looks a bit like one of the characters from Avatar the movie.

Will post updates soon...

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Update December 13th:

I spent a few hours today sitting with my classmate and trying to figure out Unreal on a PC laptop from the equipment room. We both had realized we had upgraded to High Sierra on our Mac laptops and weren't able to use the animating function of Unreal. We were trying to figure out importing a character on the PC out without too much success but we did start to build a world together with floating cubes that went up into the sky like a ladder (I forgot to take a screen shot!) and looked at various characters and tutorials on how to import them and navigate Unreal. It seems very complicated. But I think if I was walked through it once one on one, and maybe had time with it on my own laptop, it would make more sense. I ended up heading home because I thought I would be able to install it on my Desktop computer, but the operating system on that one is just one version too old... 

So at this point since I think I will be working on it at home for the rest of the night, I am thinking I will create a world in Unreal with a 3rd person character, and use a screen recording to follow it around as it moves. 

Update 12/14:
My final animation

Day 86 @ ITP: Animation

Assignment #2: Collaboration using After Effects w/ Dom C.:

Some notes: I definitely had fun working on this project. I think my skills in After Effects could still be much improved, and my animations here were a little shaky, and the character illustration maybe compromised because my tablet pen wasn't working for a moment while we were doing this project, so it was a little crude. But I understand more how it works now, and how to animate a character and  setting, and see how there is a world of possibilities in the applications of After Effects. I will definitely be using it in the future and am grateful to have an had an official introduction to it in this class.

Day 69 @ ITP: Animation

Tonight I worked on a sloth with separate layers for the limbs and torso (which I guess includes the head for this), traced from this sloth that was also created for an animation. I have a Wacom monitor at home which I normally use with a pen, but it wasn't working so I just created the shapes in Photoshop clicking around with the mouse which is not it's a little rough. I guess I also could have drawn and scanned the pieces but this seemed like the easiest way to do it for this purpose, also as the point is mainly to play with animating it and it was easy to create layers for it like a marionette in Photoshop. I have yet to see how it would actually look when the limbs are moving. Tomorrow I will meet with Dom to figure out doing a sample animation with After Affects, also to decide what kind of scenes to add the character(s) into, and will also try to wrap my head around using 3D in After Affects with

Update on 11/16:

We made some short clips, and plan to make our animation with the storyline of the sloth leaving somewhere in Manhattan (near NYU area) to go to Brooklyn to get a pizza and come back. Not high art perhaps, but we are having fun! I'm still having trouble figuring out placing the character on the 3D axis, but maybe will be able to get that after today's class or go deeper into tutorials to figure out how to include using that for this animation before we finish it.

Day 65 @ ITP: Animation

Storyboard for After Effects Animation w/ Dom C.:

Keying out Dom's full-body green screen suit! 




Update on 11/11:

We will also be incorporating another character (possibly a skateboarding sloth) with limbs that will move around, following what we did in class this week. The green screening may or may not happen and we realized it wasn't really necessary for completing the assignment. However if we do get that footage we will incorporate it anyway. Either way something with a skateboarding character or two characters (either two animated characters, or one real/manipulated character and one animated) will most likely be part of this project... 

Day 58 @ ITP: Animation

12 Basic Principles of Animation

  1. Squash and stretch
  2. Anticipation
  3. Staging
  4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose
  5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action
  6. Slow In and Slow Out
  7. Arcs
  8. Secondary Action
  9. Timing
  10. Exaggeration
  11. Solid Drawing (same or different as Weight)
  12. Appeal

This action gives the illusion of weight and volume to a character as it moves. Also squash and stretch is useful in animating dialogue and doing facial expressions. How extreme the use of squash and stretch is, depends on what is required in animating the scene. Usually it's broader in a short style of picture and subtler in a feature. It is used in all forms of character animation from a bouncing ball to the body weight of a person walking. This is the most important element you will be required to master and will be used often.

This movement prepares the audience for a major action the character is about to perform, such as, starting to run, jump or change expression. A dancer does not just leap off the floor. A backwards motion occurs before the forward action is executed. The backward motion is the anticipation. A comic effect can be done by not using anticipation after a series of gags that used anticipation. Almost all real action has major or minor anticipation such as a pitcher's wind-up or a golfers' back swing. Feature animation is often less broad than short animation unless a scene requires it to develop a characters personality.

A pose or action should clearly communicate to the audience the attitude, mood, reaction or idea of the character as it relates to the story and continuity of the story line. The effective use of long, medium, or close up shots, as well as camera angles also helps in telling the story. There is a limited amount of time in a film, so each sequence, scene and frame of film must relate to the overall story. Do not confuse the audience with too many actions at once. Use one action clearly stated to get the idea across, unless you are animating a scene that is to depict clutter and confusion. Staging directs the audience's attention to the story or idea being told. Care must be taken in background design so it isn't obscuring the animation or competing with it due to excess detail behind the animation. Background and animation should work together as a pictorial unit in a scene.

Straight ahead animation starts at the first drawing and works drawing to drawing to the end of a scene. You can lose size, volume, and proportions with this method, but it does have spontaneity and freshness. Fast, wild action scenes are done this way. Pose to Pose is more planned out and charted with key drawings done at intervals throughout the scene. Size, volumes, and proportions are controlled better this way, as is the action. The lead animator will turn charting and keys over to his assistant. An assistant can be better used with this method so that the animator doesn't have to draw every drawing in a scene. An animator can do more scenes this way and concentrate on the planning of the animation. Many scenes use a bit of both methods of animation.

When the main body of the character stops all other parts continue to catch up to the main mass of the character, such as arms, long hair, clothing, coat tails or a dress, floppy ears or a long tail (these follow the path of action). Nothing stops all at once. This is follow through. Overlapping action is when the character changes direction while his clothes or hair continues forward. The character is going in a new direction, to be followed, a number of frames later, by his clothes in the new direction. "DRAG," in animation, for example, would be when Goofy starts to run, but his head, ears, upper body, and clothes do not keep up with his legs. In features, this type of action is done more subtly. Example: When Snow White starts to dance, her dress does not begin to move with her immediately but catches up a few frames later. Long hair and animal tail will also be handled in the same manner. Timing becomes critical to the effectiveness of drag and the overlapping action.

As action starts, we have more drawings near the starting pose, one or two in the middle, and more drawings near the next pose. Fewer drawings make the action faster and more drawings make the action slower. Slow-ins and slow-outs soften the action, making it more life-like. For a gag action, we may omit some slow-out or slow-ins for shock appeal or the surprise element. This will give more snap to the scene.

All actions, with few exceptions (such as the animation of a mechanical device), follow an arc or slightly circular path. This is especially true of the human figure and the action of animals. Arcs give animation a more natural action and better flow. Think of natural movements in the terms of a pendulum swinging. All arm movement, head turns and even eye movements are executed on an arcs.

This action adds to and enriches the main action and adds more dimension to the character animation, supplementing and/or re-enforcing the main action. Example: A character is angrily walking toward another character. The walk is forceful, aggressive, and forward leaning. The leg action is just short of a stomping walk. The secondary action is a few strong gestures of the arms working with the walk. Also, the possibility of dialogue being delivered at the same time with tilts and turns of the head to accentuate the walk and dialogue, but not so much as to distract from the walk action. All of these actions should work together in support of one another. Think of the walk as the primary action and arm swings, head bounce and all other actions of the body as secondary or supporting action.

Expertise in timing comes best with experience and personal experimentation, using the trial and error method in refining technique. The basics are: more drawings between poses slow and smooth the action. Fewer drawings make the action faster and crisper. A variety of slow and fast timing within a scene adds texture and interest to the movement. Most animation is done on twos (one drawing photographed on two frames of film) or on ones (one drawing photographed on each frame of film). Twos are used most of the time, and ones are used during camera moves such as trucks, pans and occasionally for subtle and quick dialogue animation. Also, there is timing in the acting of a character to establish mood, emotion, and reaction to another character or to a situation. Studying movement of actors and performers on stage and in films is useful when animating human or animal characters. This frame by frame examination of film footage will aid you in understanding timing for animation. This is a great way to learn from the others.

Exaggeration is not extreme distortion of a drawing or extremely broad, violent action all the time. It's like a caricature of facial features, expressions, poses, attitudes and actions. Action traced from live action film can be accurate, but stiff and mechanical. In feature animation, a character must move more broadly to look natural. The same is true of facial expressions, but the action should not be as broad as in a short cartoon style. Exaggeration in a walk or an eye movement or even a head turn will give your film more appeal. Use good taste and common sense to keep from becoming too theatrical and excessively animated

The basic principles of drawing form, weight, volume solidity and the illusion of three dimension apply to animation as it does to academic drawing. The way you draw cartoons, you draw in the classical sense, using pencil sketches and drawings for reproduction of life. You transform these into color and movement giving the characters the illusion of three-and four-dimensional life. Three dimensional is movement in space. The fourth dimension is movement in time.

A live performer has charisma. An animated character has appeal. Appealing animation does not mean just being cute and cuddly. All characters have to have appeal whether they are heroic, villainous, comic or cute. Appeal, as you will use it, includes an easy to read design, clear drawing, and personality development that will capture and involve the audience's interest. Early cartoons were basically a series of gags strung together on a main theme. Over the years, the artists have learned that to produce a feature there was a need for story continuity, character development and a higher quality of artwork throughout the entire production. Like all forms of story telling, the feature has to appeal to the mind as well as to the eye.