Saturday, 29 November 2008

Jumping, Swinging, Blurring, Slurring, Elongating....

No this isn't a post about some of the spam you find in your inbox every single day, tis about animation instead.

I have a big long list ahead of me of things to go through in my T&P. Different techniques I have been trying a testing for a while and some new ones I have just come across and have never used. At some point, as part of my T&P, I will be dissecting one of my favourite cartoons (As well as quite a few other animators) of all time: 'The Foghorn Leghorn' directed by Bob McKimson for Warner Bro's back in the Golden Era. It is a tribute to everything animation should be and I love it - but that is for another post. The reason I mention it, is because it is packed full of different animation techniques with varying degree's of subtlety - from the promiscuous right through to the damn right blatant - I have learned a lot from that piece of animation and some of what I am going to talk about today has come straight out of that cartoon.

This is a test piece for Eligh's Dark Fable - so its rough, but I'm pleased with the amount of action I have got out of it. Firstly, I will show you the what I have done.


It doesn't look like much because its short - but there is nearly 40 drawings in there as its all done frame by frame.

Let me talk you through some of the techniques I have tried to apply just in these few seconds. Firstly, the character entering the screen. A sound piece of advice that I have found works well is from Richard Williams 'The Animators Survival Kit'. "Always make sure that if a character enters or exits shot, it is done of at least 5 frames". I have applied this piece of advice here and in many other places and it has always helped smooth the characters entrance or exit.

Secondly, something that intend to discuss in detail in a separate blog: The Elongated Inbetween. An inbetween in a drawing between the key frames - a filler. People often look at inbetweens a necessary evil - they take a crap load of time, but they make things look smoother. Well, for a while that is how I looked at them - but then I started to try and have fun with them. The Elongated Inbetween is great for adding cartoon impact to things. It was used profusely in 40's animation - sometimes way, way over the top for ridiculous effect. You see these inbetweens in everything, even in 'people films' - but unless they are pointed out to you, you won't notice them. If you have ever paused a DVD on an action scene and somebodies face has been blurred across the screen - then you've seen an elongated inbetween and that is where animators got the technique from.

When something is moving so fast that even a camera can't catch it on 1's, things blur and slur. But adding in the elongated inbetween you can help things move more believably - even though the drawing is quite literally a load of blobs. I have used this here to minimal but goo effect.

Here it is used to minimal effect, with the head just slightly tearing off. But it adds a sense of motion that brings the animation to life.

The above example is my final example. Animators watching old films in slow motion back when animation was being born were startled by the amount of blurs and multi frame shots that got caught on old cameras...not so much of a problem today - but out of it was born the above technique. Drawing in a single frame with multiple things happening. This is a great device for the shot before the impact. It tells the views eye exactly what is happening but in extra fast motion just for one still. The mind just blanks it over, but the eye takes it all in. The eye can see at a maximum of 24 frames a second before everything becomes blurry - so when you want the fastest possible action, this is one of your go to methods.

I will cover these techniques and some more in detail in another blog - but I thought this was a great example of how I am applying the things that I am learning from my T&P research.

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