animation tips and tricks
Basic Animation Tips
. These tips cover helpful tools and processes for animation, as well as troubleshooting problems that you might run across while working with computer animation.
Flash Tips and Tricks
. Flash is a complicated program, but you can easily avoid getting bogged down and save time with some basic tips.
Money Saving and Shopping Tips for Animators
. Animation programs are expensive; so are the various tools and supplies that we use every day. Here are some ways to save money - and a few guides on what to get for the special animator in your life who might be a little strapped for cash. Free and Trial Animation Programs Royalty Music and Sound Effects Resources Five Inexpensive Animation Solutions for the Mac Keeping Up With The Studios: Breaking Into Animation Without Breaking the Bank Essen
. There are many things to learn about being an animator, and the learning process never ends. Looking for a good school? Ready to graduate, and putting together your portfolio? Try these helpful guides.
Animate acting shots one phrase at a time
. Its best to have clear full-body posing in your phrases at the expense of smooth transitions, especially early on. Animation follows beats and phrases, each with its own purpose. For a scene in which a store clerk is helping a customer, one phrase might be him waving as the customer enters; the next might be him putting his hands in his pockets as he listens to the customer. Treat each phrase like its own shot. Reduce your timeline to display onl
Loosen up when animating contact
. Avoid keying the whole body at the point contact occurs. On most actions, particularly faster ones, the instant of contact wont be captured on 24fps film. More importantly, youll bias the movement towards culminating at the moment of contact, flattening your arcs. If a character picks up a glass, the arm is the stronger force. Animate the hand going through the glass, overshooting the contact point while staying on nice arcs. Now correct the glas
Playblasting is a huge waste of time
. Calm down, dont freak out yet! Of course theres no replacement for watching your animation at real-time speed, and you absolutely must watch your animation this way to be productive. However, hours are lost every week waiting for previews and playblasts to render. Reclaim your productive time by creating a layer or a button to hide everything in the scene except the character and proxy-resolution sets, so you can simply hit Play to watch the anim
Facial animation is about motion
. Were often asked whether there are certain poses that should always be built into face rigs to ensure the character can effectively express a natural range of emotion. The answer is that real emotion is expressed with the movement of the face: a lip quivering when a character is about to cry, the eyes darting around when a person is at a loss for words, or a character pressing their face tightly to avoid laughing at something.
Mute your dialogue
. Yes, you must listen to your dialogue over and over and over when you start a dialogue shot to get into the character, the subtext, the mood and the performance. But later on, when you work through the body mechanics and full-body gestures, its common to rely too heavily on the dialogue to fill in performance thats lacking in the body.
A mirror is a dangerous thing
. Be careful using a mirror for doing lip-sync. When speaking into the mirror, we slow down our pronunciation to copy a shape. This is misleading, because it disregards natural lip/jaw independence. Key your lip-sync in separate passes for the lips and jaw, and use a mirror for information to help one pass at a time
Mess up your physical work
. Fill physical shots with all slips, falls, hitches, bumps and misses. Audiences get bored of watching perfect runs, jumps and tackles. Creating a little chaos is fun to watch, and its impressive to see an artist who can animate their way out of a situation thats gone awry.
Learn a little about mocap
. Youre putting yourself at a serious hiring disadvantage if youve never worked with, or even seen, mocap data. Even if you plan to work at an all-keyframe studio, you may have to handle the stuff. There are many free mocap clips online, and 3D Worlds disc includes mocap data from time to time.
Bookend trouble spots
. Sometimes an animation contains hitches you just cant remove, try as you might. Bookend this section by selecting all the controls and setting keys just before and after the hitch. Now delete the offending keys, knowing that you have walled off any destructive effect on the rest of the sequence.
Do more of less
. Take on shorter shots for practice. The reason you practise is to get better for the industry, so practise the length of shot you are likely to encounter on the job, which will rarely be more than 10 seconds. Youre more likely to finish shots that are manageable, gaining skills from blocking through to final polish.
Principles of Physical Animation
. Learn the techniques the pros use to create lifelike animation and character movements.
Principles of Emotion in Animation
. Theres more to animating than drawing. Discover how emotions play a key role in every great animated picture.
Animation Notes from Ollie Johnston
. John Lasseter shares what he has learned from Ollie Johnston (Presented at SIGGRAPH 94, Course 1)
Work In Progress
. Learn about good character development by watching one of our recent Works In Progress.
Master Disneys12 Principles of Animation
. Over three decades old, this classic by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas is still to this day held in high regard as the animators bible. While its true that the number of self-taught computer animators keeps growing each year, with the wide availability of training materials, literature, and software on the internet, those trained in academic settings know whyDisneys 12 Principles of Animationis still a standard textbook for intr
Learn proper motion blurring techniques
. Computer animation, no matter how fantastical, imitates real objects and settings. Specifically, film cameras capture life. Audiences are accustomed to the nuances and artifacts of live action film, including the way cameras render the motion of objects and people. Motion blur is a subtle but powerful perceptual indicator that not only tells the viewer that the object is moving, but also the speed and direction it is moving. To properly convey an
Animate standing characters using unique postures
. If you observe a throng of standing people in the subway, park, or other gathering place, you will notice that peoples postures constitute a unique element of their persona. A teenage girls hips may shift to one side as shes explaining a story, while someone else may slouch lazily with his arms folded, one hand holding a cigar. Whatever the case may be, people seldom stand perfectly upright. For this reason, animated characters that are standing
Use shadows to ground your characters
. Shadows are crucial elements to reality -- unless youre creating a vampire, the viewer expects to see your character cast a shadow. They give a sense of depth by anchoring characters to the ground and thus are important elements to character placement and orientation. Shadows also function as important psychological triggers to an animated sequence (e.g. long shadows indicate a later time of day, which can trigger melancholy, apprehension, or fea
Adjust sharpness and colors to indicate depth
. By mimicking the shallow depth of field of a film camera, one can instantly give their animations the illusion of depth. By blurring the background objects and setting, you reinforce the believability of your character to the eye. Colors can also be used to indicate depth -- by using strong, saturated colors in the foreground subjects and muted, unsaturated colors in the background, sequences and character within seem more realistic to the eye.
Designing your Characters
. Have you ever wanted to come up with a new character but had no idea where to start? Take a look at the first of Helens Animation Tips on creating characters.
Creating your character in 2D
. Learn how to cut out your character from paper or card, choose which hinge method you are going to use to animate your character.
Planning your story
. In this worksheet I explain how to create a storyboard of your animation.
. Here I tell you how to create your scene and start animating.
Animation for Beginners
. One of the most asked question I get on a daily basis is I want to be an animator/do animation. Where do I start? Instead of directing you to our Making an Animated Movie series, our awesome Resources page, or even our YouTube channel, I decided to write this guide to cover (almost) everything you might need to know when trying to get into the animation biz. In this post Ill cover some of the basic concepts and options for people who want to make
Easy to Start Hard to Master
. Today it is easier than ever to get into animation. There are plenty of software available, some of them are quite cheap, and most modern computer can handle the simpler animation tasks (mostly 2D). The catch is that although anyone can start animating right now, the art of animation is not easy to learn and very hard to master.
The good news is
. That you dont need to be a Disney quality animator to create really cool animations. You can start small and simple and slowly develop your skills and unique style. You dont even need to know how to draw well. But before you start, here is Bloops Animation for Beginners Guide (get the ebook).
. Probably a more recommended route to take forabsolute beginners, since you can start quicker and more on the cheap side.
. The two programs I would suggest you start with areFlashorPhotoshop. The reason for that is that they are cheap and accessible. You can get either for $19 a month, including a free trial month
. For the more traditional oriented aspiring animators, the Timeline feature in Photoshop allows you to animate frame by frame, and since its Photoshop youre getting one of the best drawing/painting capabilities out there. It has onion skinning settings and could be an awesome tool to start experimenting in 2D animation with.
. The good thing about using Flash or Photoshop is that you dont need some crazy monster computer to use them, any modern machine should be able to do the trick.
. Ive written aboutthe merits of animating with a tablet, and for 2D animation I cant imagine doing it with a mouse. The price of theIntuos Pro(our tablet of choice) might scare you, but for about $70 you can get theIntuos Penwhich is great for beginners.
. If youre looking to get into 3D animation, the road isa bit more complex, but Ill try to help you make sense of the journey ahead of you.
. Much more accessible and easy to learn, also cheaper and comes for free with Adobe After Effects (A lite version). Although used mostly for motion graphics, Cinema can be used for other types of animation and is fun to play around with.
. Since this is a beginners guide I figured Ill include Blender since its free to download, and there are plenty of tutorials out there so nothing is stopping you from animating right now for free.