What Is Animation ?
Animation is the process of displaying still images in a fast sequence to create the illusion of movement with less frames being a faster animation and more frames being a slower one. These images can be hand drawn, computer made or pictures of 3D objects.
Types Of Animation
There are many types of animation for example traditional animation, stop motion, 3D animation and many others.
Traditional is often believed to have properly started in 1887 when H.W. Goodwin invented a celluloid film which could hold drawn images which when watched created the illusion of an animation. Fast forward to 1914, Gertie the dinosaur was made, which is considered to this day to be one of the first animations to have a character with a personality of its own as well as a gender.
Traditional animation was created by drawing many pictures in a sequence so that when seen at a high speed it would create the illusion of movement. The first step in creating a hand drawn animation was coming up with a idea and planning how it would look. After this was achieved the characters or objects would be drawn many times over for every slight bit of movement. The final steps would be picturing all of the drawings and then doing the final checks. Usual tools would be things like pen, pencils, paper, cell sheets as well as many others.
Hand drawn animation is not very expensive meaning more can be produced for the same price as other animation techniques. However, for the time it takes it doesn’t look as professional or realistic as other animation techniques.
Emile Cohl is the person who brought stop motion animation to America. He used drawings, puppets and other inanimate objects to bring to life his animations. His first stop motion animated film was called Fantasmagorie which was made in 1908 and used about 700 drawings. Fast forward to 1925 where Willis O Brien used stop motion to make the film The Lost World. In present day stop motion is still used a lot for animations made from things like clay, paper and many others.
Stop motion is about adding the illusion of movement to inanimate objects. This is achieved by moving objects in small increments and photographing them every time allowing for all the frames to be played back after at a fast speed creating the illusion. Usual tools for this would be a camera, camera stand, clay models, paper, pens and many more. To develop ideas for stop motion animations things like storyboards are used so that the makers can have a general idea of how things will look. There are many different techniques of stop motion with some being clay animation, cut-out animation, model animation and many more.
Stop motion allows for you to create an animation of a inanimate object that if done well can create a almost realistic lifelike animation of your chosen object. However stop motion is very difficult to get right as all your images/pictures need to be a consistent quality so that it actually creates the illusion of a video and not just a series of pictures.
3D/CGI animation started in 1968 with kitty which was one of the first ever 3D computer animations. It was produced in Russia under the direction of N.Konstantinov. Fast Forward to 1995 the very first all CGI film Toy Story was created by Pixar. In 1997 Titanic the most expensive film of its time was made, it took over 500 visual effect shots to create the film. Two years later came the movie Fight Club which was the first use of photogrammetry. Come 2009 the film Avatar was created using 3D E-motion capture and CGI . The movie was very well received and to this day has made $2.788 billion dollars.
3D/CGI animation is a process that involves taking fully 3D objects physical or digital and giving them the illusion of movement. One of the first steps is planning and creating some test pipelines which can take a few months, After the first step usually comes previsualisation which is creating a low resolution version of what the CGI will look like. Many computer software’s are used for creating CGI/3D animations like Maya, Arnold, Mudbox and many others. There are many different techniques of CGI/3D animation with some being digital 3D, Claymation, photogrammetry and many others.
3D/CGI animation is a lot more realistic and easier to produce than traditional animation. However to produce good looking 3D animations you need people who are highly skilled to be able to use the software’s correctly.
Creating My First Animation
Using Photoshop I managed to create my first animation by using different layers and keyframing the ball on different frames in different positions. Also I added the principle Squash & Stretch when the ball hits the ground and bounces back up to add more realism to my animation.
The 12 Principles Of Animation
Squash & Stretch
In 3D animation squash & Stretch is a technique that is applied to animated or in motion objects/characters to give them a more realistic movement by using their speed, momentum, weight and mass. When using squash and stretch you must take into consideration the object’s volume for example when a ball hits the floor and squashes it will all stretch out.
Anticipation is when the character prepares for an action allowing the audience to know what is about to happen. For example when a character is about to jump they crouch down first to give them the force/push to jump upwards. Anticipation allows for the animation to look more realistic and clear to the audience about what is about to happen.
Staging is using things like camera angles, timing, position and other things so that you are in control of where the audience is looking. An example of bad staging would be having multiple things at once happening on the screen causing the viewers to not know which one to look at. Also the animation should try to always be in the middle or one of the thirds of the screen. You can also use zoom in for facial expressions and zoom out for actions like punching.
Straight Ahead & Pose To Pose
Straight ahead is drawing as you go one after another where as pose to pose is drawing the beginning and ending of the animation and then go back later and fill in the middle poses. Pose to pose is generally better for character animations because you already know what it will look like at the end. Straight ahead is usually better for unpredictable animations like fire ,clouds ,rain and many other things.
Follow Through & Overlapping Action
Follow through and overlapping action are often associated with drag which is delaying the movement of body parts in relation to the main body. Where as follow through is how the body parts continue to move afterwards. The amount of follow through or drag shows how much mass that object would have with more mass being less movement. These both allow for a more realistic look overall on the animations.
Slow in & Slow out
Slow in and slow out is one of the most important principles for creating a lifelike motion otherwise things feel mechanical. When drawing your poses you would draw more closer to the beginning and end rather than the middle to create the slow in and slow out effect. However with 3D and motion animation you would adjust the motion curves from linear to spline.
Arcs are the circular path in which living creatures will move in. By using arcs you make your animations more realistic rather that robotic. You can also create effects like wind movement from the back of weapons using arcs to add more realism.
Secondary actions is often associated with overlapping action. Secondary action describes gestures that support the main action to add more dimension. For example a character could be eating and the secondary action is the head and mouth moving. Staging is also very important while using secondary action.
Timing is about the nature being affected by the number of frames. The less the frames the faster the animation and the more the frames the slower the animation. Drawing in two’s is normally used for slower actions as it allows them to look smoother.
Exaggeration is where everyone action and pose can be taken to the next level to increase the impact on the viewers. More exaggeration makes you animation look even more realistic and more convincing.
Solid drawing is about making sure that the forms feel like they are in three dimensional space with volume, weight and balance. When drawing using 3D shapes your lines should always follow the contours of the shapes surface otherwise what you are drawing will look flat. Also when drawing shapes like a cube your 3D lines should always go to the vanishing points to stop them also looking flat. While using solid drawing you should avoid twinning which is when your paired features are doing the exact same thing giving the illusion of no weight on to your drawing making it look less realistic.
Appeal is making sure that the characters you animate should be somewhat appealing to look at. To achieve this you can do things like use a variety of shapes for different characters as well as different proportions and sometimes even keeping your detail on your characters a bit more simple.
Animating In Maya
For one of the tasks I had to use the graph editor tool to make the sphere follow in curves while bouncing through the hoops. To make more of a curve I had to use the tangents and break them apart so I could move them separately to try make it as close to a curve as I could with the ball still going through the hoops. Using the graph editor is beneficial as it allows for a much more smoother animation as it is easier to see what you are doing. Also the graph allows you to change things like the scale and rotation of the object on different axis.
Animation Project – Catching
For my animation project I have chosen the theme Catching as I feel it will give me the best opportunities to add the most principles in.
One of the first things I did was create a mood board to look at different position and techniques for the throw as well as what some of the keyframes could look like.
I then created a story board so that I could get an idea of how things will look and work. I wrote things like what the camera would be doing in the scene as well as the story for that frame/sequence.
Key Frame Sketches
Using Online videos and primary recorded sources I was able to use photoshop to create the keyframes for the actions my characters would be doing, The image below is a set of keyframes of a character throwing a ball which I used a online video and the print screen button to create.
After some feedback I have figured out that I will have to include a variety of the 12 principles of animation to achieve my target grade. I will focus more on principles like anticipation and staging, a peer has pointed out how I could also include secondary action using facial expressions.
After I had finished my animation I rendered it frame by frame using Arnold Renderer and then imported that into premiere where I was able to combine all the snapshots to create my final animation video.
Overall I feel that my animation turned out quite well.
I believe my final animation tells the story I had planned out with my storyboard almost exactly with a few extra and different camera placements. I think the throw and camera movements on my animation turned out really good and I think they work really well together, However I could have included the thrower reacting in some way to his friend being hit by the ball as this would have added more realism and story to the overall video animation.
I originally planned to only include the principles staging, anticipation and secondary action into my project. However I ended up including more principles like Follow Through on the throwers arm. I also managed to implement a slight bit of Exaggeration when the character is hit by the ball as well as Squash & Stretch when the ball hits and bounces of the character. Overall I feel like the principles I included I included quite well. Although, I could have included more exaggeration on parts like when the ball is thrown and when the character is hit by it to add more depth to the animation. In addition to more variety of secondary actions rather than having them all facial expressions I could have included some in the way the characters moved or I could have added the chest moving in and out slowly to create the illusion of them breathing which would just add to the realism.
I definitely could have used the graph more which would have saved a lot more time that could have been used adding some of the previous improvements I have mentioned also trying not to add to much in all at the start as even though I ended up getting everything in that I wanted to like the walk and nod it meant I had less time to properly focus on other bits of the animation. However I feel my presentation skills were quite good through out this project as well as my rendering.
Overall, although there was a few more principles I could have included into my animation I feel like the final product turned out quite well.
Overall, Nathans animation shows clearly a story of two people playing catch exactly like how his storyboard was planned. Also the use of camera movements to switch between close ups of the characters nodding and front views of the ball being thrown look really good and professional. However, there could be more principles that could be added in like more secondary actions just to add that bit more depth and realism into the animation also he could make it so the catcher holds the first position of him being hit for a while longer before carrying on with the rest of his positions.
I need to practice animating a bit more just so I can make my animations look even more realistic and professional.
I also need to try and take more time on the simple things rather than jumping to the more complicated things when animating.