Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thoughts on Animation

How has my approach to character animation changed over the course of this film?

I plan things out a lot more. Probably a third or half the time on each shot is spent planning out the camera and poses. Earlier, I'd rush through the scene and go straight to subtle stuff like the fingers, but now I spend the bulk of my time trying to iron out the timing of the main actions.

I also step the keys a lot more, which is making 3d animation seem more and more like 2d animation since I feel like I'm animating keys and holding them on 3s, 4s or 6s before doing in-betweens. It's all perfectly obvious now, but it's taken me a while to start thinking like that.

I go a lot broader on facial animation and close-ups. A lot of my earlier scenes are quite stiff because I was being too subtle. Some of the faces were so rigid that I went in and reanimated them, particularly with Bir.

On the other hand, my body animation is a lot less broad than the usual manic stuff I churn out. Part of the reason is that Looney Tunes animation wouldn't really fit the content and style of this film, but I also try to plan each scene around fewer big poses than I used to. That way, I only emphasize what I want to in each scene by balancing big and small, fast and slow gestures. So if there's enough slow and medium paced action, fast action stands out more, and vice versa.

Similarly, less is often more. By resisting the temptation to do a zany wrist snap or an overexaggerated take, I am trying not to distract the audience in order to give them more time to digest a shot and understand its main point.

Of course, my animation might still not be any better, but I like to think that it's clearer.

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