< Back to Beginner Workshop I

Beginner Workshop I Syllabus:  


Week 01: 

  • Lecture 01: Spacing, texture and clarity in animation and intro to maya basics (graph editor and keys)
  • Demo on how to animate Ball rig
  • Assignment 01: Make a ball travel in a circle. And across the screen at three different speeds. Bouncing ball attempt #1

Week 02:

  • Critique assignment
  • Lecture 02: Bouncing ball, graph editor tricks
  • Assignment 01: Refine bouncing ball attempt

Week 03:

  • Critique assignment  
  • Lecture 03 on bouncing ball and texture
  • Demo on how to animate Monty
  • Assignment poses 01: Monty and the Robot
  • Assignment 02: Ball falling through an obstacle course

  • Critique assignment  
  • Critique poses
  • Lecture 04: Weight
  • Assignment 02: Refine ball falling through an obstacle course

Week 04:


Week 05:

  • Critique assignment
  • Lecture 05: Clarity and walk cycles
  • Assignment 03: Vanilla walk cycle with Monty

Week 06:

  • Critique assignment
  • Show and Tell: Ask what was hard, what was not
  • Lecture 06: More on walk cycles
  • Assignment 03: Refine vanilla walk cycle with Monty

Week 07:

  • Critique assignment
  • Lecture 07: Workflow
  • Demo on how to animate Robot
  • Assignment 04: Explore robot -- animate rolling to a stop (maximum 40 frames)

Week 08:

  • Critique assignment
  • Assignment 04: Refine animating rolling to a stop (maximum 40 frames)

Week 09:

  • Critique assignment
  • Lecture 08: Polish
  • Assignment 05: Robot acts to camera (maximum 40 frames)

Week 10:

  • Critique assignment
  • Assignment 05: Refine robot acts to camera (maximum 40 frames)

Week 11:

  • Critique assignment
  • Lecture 09: Work ethic
  • Assignment 05: Finalize robot acts to camera (maximum 40 frames)

Week 12:

  • Critique assignment
  • Review of students growth and performance
  • Animation industry intro
  • Goodbyes

When is Your Shot Final?

When showing for final in the fourth week of your assignment, three things can happen.

  1. Your tutor “approves” the shot and gives you the green light to move onto the next shot.
     
  2. Your tutor feels your shot isn’t final yet and recommends you to keep working on the polish. Essentially you’ll switch to a “two shot approach” for the total duration of the workshop. Instead of animating three shots, you will now animate two shots.
     
  3. Your tutor feels your shot isn’t final yet and despite his or her recommendation, you want to move on. Ultimately it is up to you ­­ you have paid for this workshop and you have control over whether you want to move on or not. BUT realize you have chosen the path of failure. You will now animate three mediocre shots that won’t look finished. Our best advice is one you have heard before: it’s better to have two awesome shots, than three mediocre shots. Again... you decide. 

A Couple of Important Thoughts:

  • You and your tutor will establish a professional relationship which you are the animator and the tutor is your animation supervisor. In essence we want to emulate the professional environment industry animators operate in. They work on their shots and show their work-­in-progress in dailies to the directors and animation supervisor. The animator will get constructive notes. The key here is the animator taking the notes to heart and not only address the notes literally, but also understand the spirit of the note and apply that to the whole shot.
     
  • Try to keep it simple. Think of an entertaining situation your character could find him or herself in. It doesn't necessarily have to be a funny situation. Finding entertainment in a shot can mean a lot of things. Sometimes a dramatic scene can be very captivating.
     
  • Also try to think through whether you need props. f you are unable to model and texture props, try to contact your fellow students to see whether they can help out. Online resources are vast in terms of finding props. Please make sure there are no copyright issues.
     

  • A beat sheet is a list of beats, actions or actions. Break down what you have in mind in terms of animating the shot. It is a very effective technique to wrap your head around what you want to animate.
     
  • For Example:
     
  • character walks in happily screen left
  • character sees chair
  • character walks to chair
  • characters sits down
  • chair falls apart
  • character falls down on the ground
  • characters is angry

What is a Beat Sheet?


Frank & Ollie:
Inspiration for Years

  • Don’t illustrate words or mechanical movements. Illustrate ideas or thoughts, with the attitudes and actions.

  • Squash and stretch entire body for attitudes.

  • If possible, make definite changes from one attitude to another in timing and expression.

  • What is the character thinking?

  • It is the thought and circumstances behind the action that will make the action interesting. 

  • When drawing dialogue, go for phrasing. (Simplify the dialogue into pictures of the dominating vowel and consonant sounds, especially in fast dialogue.

  • Lift the body attitude 4 frames before dialogue modulation (but use identical timing on mouth as on X sheet).

  • Change of expression and major dialogue sounds are a point of interest. Do them, if at all possible, within a pose. If the head moves too much you won’t see the changes.

  • Don’t move anything unless it’s for a purpose.

  • Concentrate on drawing clear, not clean.

  • Don’t be careless.

  • Everything has a function. Don’t draw without knowing why.

  • Let the body attitude echo the facial.

  • Get the best picture in your drawing by thumbnails and exploring all avenues.

  • Analyze a character in a specific pose for the best areas to show stretch and squash. Keep these areas simple.

  • Picture in your head what it is you’re drawing.

  • Think in terms of drawing the whole character, not just the head or eyes, etc. Keep a balanced relation of one part of the drawing to the other.

  • Stage for most effective drawing.

  • Draw a profile of the drawing you’re working on every once in a while. A profile is easier on which to show the proper proportions of the face.

  • Usually the break in the eyebrow relates to the high point of the eye.

  • The eye is pulled by the eyebrow muscles.

  • Get a plastic quality in face — cheeks, mouth and eyes.

  • Attain a flow thru the body rhythm in your drawing.

  • Simple animated shapes.

  • The audience has a difficult time reading the first 6­8 frames in a scene.

  • Does the added action in a scene contribute to the main idea in that scene? Will it help sell it or confuse it?

  • Don’t animate for the sake of animation but think what the character is thinking and what the scene needs to fit into the sequence.

  • Actions can be eliminated and staging "cheated" if it simplifies the picture you are trying to show and is not disturbing to the audience.

  • Spend half your time planning your scene and the other half animating.

Principles Of Animation:
Ingredients of success

A. Squash and Stretch

B. Anticipation

C. Staging

D. Straight-Ahead-Action and Pose-to-Pose

E. Follow-Through and Overlapping-Action

F. Slow In and Slow Out

G. Arcs

H. SecondaryAction

I. Timing

J. Exaggeration

K. Solid Drawing(same or different as Weight)

L. Appeal


Squash and Stretch

  • 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.

Anticipation

  • 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 wind­up or a golfers' back swing. Feature animation is often less broad than short animation unless a scene requires it to develop a characters personality.

Staging

  • 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 clearlystated 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 Action & Pose-to-Pose

  • 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.

Follow-Through & Overlapping-Action

  • 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.

Slow-Out & Slow-In

  • 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. Slow­ins and slow­outs soften the action, making it more life­like. For a gag action, we may omit some slow­out or slow­ins 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.

Arcs


  • This action adds to and enriches the main action and adds more dimension to the character animation, supplementing and/or re­enforcing 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.

Secondary 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.

Timing


  • 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

Exaggeration


  • 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.

Solid Drawing


  • 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.

Appeal