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CONTENTS INTRODUCTION CHAPTERONE THINKINGIN2D DesignInformsMotion Animatingin2Din3D Interview:KenDuncan OvertoYou!

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

CONTENTS INTRODUCTION CHAPTERONE THINKINGIN2D DesignInformsMotion Animatingin2Din3D Interview:KenDuncan OvertoYou!

CHAPTERONE

THINKINGIN2D

DesignInformsMotion

Animatingin2Din3D

Interview:KenDuncan

OvertoYou!

CHAPTERTWO ANIMATIONPLANNING Thumbnails VideoReference AnimationActing Interview:RicardoJostResende

CHAPTERTWO

ANIMATIONPLANNING

Thumbnails

VideoReference

AnimationActing

Interview:RicardoJostResende

Step-by-StepWalkthrough

OvertoYou!

CHAPTERTHREE THEPOSETEST ScenePrep DesigningthePose APrincipledAnimation Interview:MattWilliames Step-by-StepWalkthrough

CHAPTERTHREE

THEPOSETEST

ScenePrep

DesigningthePose

APrincipledAnimation

Interview:MattWilliames

Step-by-StepWalkthrough

OvertoYou!

CHAPTERFOUR BREAKDOWNS LikingWhatYouGetversusGettingWhatYouLike BuildingaBetterBreakdown Interview:PepeSánchez

CHAPTERFOUR

BREAKDOWNS

LikingWhatYouGetversusGettingWhatYouLike

BuildingaBetterBreakdown

Interview:PepeSánchez

Step-by-StepWalkthrough

OvertoYou!

CHAPTERFIVE REFINE AchievingPolish TheTerrifyingTransition FinalPolish Interview:T.DanHofstedt Step-by-StepWalkthrough

CHAPTERFIVE

REFINE

AchievingPolish

TheTerrifyingTransition

FinalPolish

Interview:T.DanHofstedt

Step-by-StepWalkthrough

OvertoYou!

CHAPTERSIX CARTOONYTECHNIQUES TheProblemofMotionBlur MultipleLimbs MotionLinesandDry-Brush Smears Staggers

CHAPTERSIX

CARTOONYTECHNIQUES

TheProblemofMotionBlur

MultipleLimbs

MotionLinesandDry-Brush

Smears

Staggers

Interview:JasonFigliozzi

Step-by-StepWalkthrough

OvertoYou!

APPENDIX

Conclusion

FurtherReading

FurtherViewing

PictureCredits

Acknowledgments

INTRODUCTION I’mnotgoingtokidyou.Creatingcartoonycomputeranimationcanbedifficult.But as Epicurus reminds us, “The

INTRODUCTION

I’mnotgoingtokidyou.Creatingcartoonycomputeranimationcanbedifficult.But as Epicurus reminds us, “The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmountingit.”Now,thatwillbetheonlyreferenceinthisbooktoanyGreek philosophy,Ipromise.Imean,thisisabookoncartoons,right?Butitdoesringtrue. Aswithmuchinlife,weplacemorevalueonthingsthatarenoteasilyattained.So whatarethedifficultiesinanimatinginacartoonystyle?ThewayIseeit,thereare two primary hurdles. The first is the technical nature of implementing these techniques. The ability to bend computer animation to your cartoony will (like havingacharactersmearanddistortacrossthelengthoftheframe)hasnotbeena toolavailableinmostcomputeranimators’toolboxes.Computeranimation,asanart form,isstillinitsinfancy,andthetoolswe’reusingfeelalittlecrudeattimes.

Thesecondhurdledealswiththeaestheticconsiderationsofapplyingthesetechniquesin anappropriatemanner.Again,usingthesameexample,knowingwhenandhowmuchto smearacharacterisanartuntoitself.Muchlikethebuddingchildartistwhodiscovers thatacircleintheuppercornerofapagerepresentsthesun,andthenthesuntendsto showupinthatsamelocationineverydrawing!Oncetheah-hamomenthashappened, andthetechniqueislearned,therecanbeatemptationtousethattechniquewhereverand wheneverwecan.And,inthecaseofthesetraditionalanimationtechniques,discretionis key.Knowingwhentouseitisjustasimportantasknowinghowtouseit.Myhopewith thisbookistoaddressbothofthesechallenges.Recentdevelopmentsincharacterrigging and tools are making it much easier to implement cartoony techniques in computer animation.Eventhoughtheapplicationofthesetechniquesmayoccasionallytryyour patience,theendresultisoftenjaw-droppinganimationmagic.

Thisbookisintendedfortheanimatorwhoislookingtodevelopamoreexaggerated, cartoony,animationstyle.Itrytomaketheinformationaseasytodigestaspossible; nevertheless,thisbookisnotintendedfortheabsolutebeginner.Thatbeingsaid,abasic understandingoftheanimationprocessandhowtoanimateinMayaisallthatisneededto getthemostfromthistext.Sinceanimationisavisualartthatinvolvesmotion,thebook willwalkyouthroughtheproductionofashortanimatedscene,whichwillincorporate everytechniquementionedwithin.Youwillhaveareal-worldexamplefromwhichyou canfollowandlearn.Toaccessthismoviefilealongwiththecharacterrigandtoolsused to create the animation, you can find them at the companion website:

www.bloomsbury.com/Osborn-Cartoon-Animation.Bytheendofthebook,myhopeis

thatyou’llbeabletoincorporatethesetechniquesintoyouranimationbyexpandingyour

knowledge,skills,andtoolset.

Onemorethought…Asateacherofanimation,I’dberemissnottospeakbrieflyabout

learningthesetechniquesandlearninganimationingeneral.Earlyinmycareerasan

animator,Iwasnaiveenoughtothinkthatyoueither“hadit”oryoudidn’t.Meaning,

thereweresomestudentswho,nomatterhowhardtheytried,werenevergoingtobe

accomplishedanimators.Iwon’tdenythatlearningtheartofanimationdoestakelonger

forsomepeoplethanitdoesforthosewhoseemtograsptheconceptsearlyon.Whether

that’snatureornurture,Idon’tknow.ButwhatIdoknowisthateightyearsofteaching

andonepersoninparticularhavetaughtmeaveryimportantlesson:dedicationmatters.

Sowhoisthatonepersoninparticular?Forthesakeofanonymity,I’llcallthisperson “Bryan.”Bryanstartedhisanimationcareerasarenderwrangler.Forthoseunfamiliar withthejobtitle,thispersonisresponsibleformonitoringthefarmofcomputersdevoted torenderingoutthefinalimages.It’satechnicalrole,onenotmanyartistswillfind satisfying;nonetheless,itwasafootinthedoorforBryan,andonehegladlyaccepted. Bryanhadnorealformaltraininginanimation,asidefromaclassatalocalcommunity college.Hisanimationreelconsistedofsomeballbounceexercisesandaweakactingtest. But,man,didthisguyhavepassion.Hewasalwaysaskingforinputfromtheotherartists andconstantlyworkingonhiscraft.Hisdrivetoimprovewasintense,andhegaveithis all.Itdidn’ttakelongforhimtoreachhisgoals.IhadtheprivilegeofwitnessingBryan’s steadyriseuptheanimationladdertowhere,withinjustafewyears,hehadbecomenot onlyanaccomplishedanimatorbutalsoananimationleadandeventuallyananimation supervisor. Fast-forward another handful of years and he’s currently the CEO of a boutiqueanimationstudio,creatingqualityworkandservingwell-knownclients.Ilearned avaluablelessonfromBryan:dedicationmatters.Soexpecttobechallengedandperhaps evenfailattimes.Iguaranteethatifyouslogthroughit,it’lleventuallyclick.Inthewords ofafamousanimatedfish,“Justkeepswimming.”

CHAPTERONE THINKINGIN2D WhenIopenedMayaforthefirsttime,Iwasincrediblyanxious.HereIwas,aneagerart

CHAPTERONE

THINKINGIN2D

WhenIopenedMayaforthefirsttime,Iwasincrediblyanxious.HereIwas,aneagerart schoolstudent,usingthesamesoftwarethatmanyofthebigstudioswereusing,getting my first taste of the wondrous world of computer animation. But it was also a very complexanddeeppieceofsoftware,anditwasallveryforeigntome.Witheverymouse clickcamethefearthatI’dbreaksomething—andIoftendid.Ascomputeranimation students,wewouldhearhowsomeoftheillustrationstudentswerecomplainingabout howcomplexPhotoshopwas.Nottodiminishtheirfrustrations,buttheyhadnoideahow addingthatextraD(asindimension)complicatedthingsexponentially.

AstheyearspassedandIbecamemoreandmoreproficientwithMaya,Ifoundmyself longing for the simplicity of pencil and paper, to get back to the roots of our craft:

traditionalanimation.Mylackofdrawingskillsmeantbeingatraditionalanimatorwas

beyondmyreach.However,I’doccasionallycomeacrosscomputeranimatorswhowere

incorporatingtraditionalanimationtechniquesintotheirworkflows.Thingslikeworking

posetopose,usingsteppedtangents,andpressingthecommaandperiodkeystosimulate

pageflippingfascinatedme,andIeagerlyadoptedthemintomyworkflow.AsIdidthis,I

foundtheanimationprocessmorechallengingbutalsomorerewarding,asIfeltmorelike

anartistandlesslikeatechnician.

Nowadays,theseapproachesaremorecommonplace,andperhapsyoualreadyworkin thatmanner.Ifyouhaven’texploredtheseapproaches,don’tworry,wewillbecovering someofthesetechniquesinmoredetailsoonenough.Butbeforewegetintothinkinglike

a2Danimatorwhenitcomestomotion,let’stakeastepbackandlookattheimportance

ofthinkingin2Dwithregardtocharacterdesignandhowitwillaffectyouranimation.

DESIGNINFORMSMOTION

Unlessyou’recreatingthecharactersyourself,thedesignofthecharacterisnotsomething youprobablyhaveanycontrolover.However,designdoeshaveahugeimpactonhowthe character is expected to move, so design is something you’ll want to give strong considerationtowhenthinkingaboutthestyleofanimationyou’dliketocreate.

Weexpectacertainstyleofmovementbasedpurelyonhowthecharacterisdesigned.Ifa

characterisrealisticallydesignedandrendered,weexpectthatitwillmoveinamore

naturalisticway,carefullyfollowingthelawsofphysics.Thisexpectationcan,andoften

is,playedwith,aswhentheHulkisleapingfrombuildingtobuildinginaverynimble

way.Butthere’sapointwherethebelievabilitycanbebroken.

Wedon’thavetohaveaPhDinphysicstonoticewhenaparticularactionthatacharacter

isperformingisnotquiteright.IftheHulkweretodoabroad,cartoonytakewithhis

eyeballspoppingoutoftheirsockets,wemightbequiteamusedbutwe’dalsogetthe

feelingthatsomethingisoff.TheHulkwouldn’tlookrightmovinginthatmannerbecause

he’sfartoorealisticallyconceived.

Conversely,ifanearly20thcentury,rubber-hosestylecharacter,liketheoriginalMickey

Mouse,iscarefullyandpreciselyfollowingeverylawofphysics,itwouldlookwrongand potentiallyconfusetheaudience.Ourexpectationsofmovementbasedonthedesignof thecharactermaybeinstinctual,orperhapstheyhavebeengroomedbydecadesofmovie watching.Regardless,ingeneral,themorecaricaturedorcartoonythedesign,themore freedom you have to explore the style of movement. Even subtle variations make a difference.

TakeGenieinAladdin(1992),forexample.Hehasaverycurvilinearqualitytohisdesign

and,appropriately,movesinaverybroadandflowingmanner.Aladdin,ontheotherhand,

whilecaricatured,hassomesemblanceofanatomy,anditwouldlookoddforhimtomove

inthesameway.Eveninthesamefilm,withacohesivestyle,differencesindesignmatter

tomotion.Thus,aprimaryconsiderationwhendecidinguponthestyleofmovement

beginslongbeforeanimation.Muchofitrestsinhowyourcharacterisconstructed.Ifyou

wantmorefreedomtoexplorethesetechniques,it’sbesttostickwithhighlycaricatured

andcartoonycharacters.

1.1 StarWars:TheCloneWars, 2008 CloneWars ,withitsstrongdesignaesthetic,lendsitselftomorecaricaturedanddynamicaction.

1.1StarWars:TheCloneWars,2008

CloneWars,withitsstrongdesignaesthetic,lendsitselftomorecaricaturedanddynamicaction.

1.2 TheAvengers ,2012

1.2TheAvengers,2012

BecausetheHulkisrealisticallydesignedandinhabitsalifelikephysicalworld,he’sexpectedtoobeycertainlawsof

physicswithwhichwe’reallfamiliar.

TruthinMaterials

Incomputeranimation,wehavetheincredibleabilitytosimulatematerials,wherethe surfaceofobjectscanlookliketheirreal-worldcounterparts.This,too,hasasignificant impactonexpectationsofmovement.Ifyou’reanimatinganobjectthatismadeupof hardsteelsurfaces,likeacarorarobot,you’llneedtotakethatintoaccountwhen

animating.Ofthe12principlesofanimation,asdefinedbytheearlyDisneyanimators,the

principlethatwillmostlikelybeimpactedbythisissquashandstretch.Avehiclewitha shinymetallicfinishfallingfromagreatheightisprobablynotgoingtodoarubbery bouncewhenitlands.That’snottosaythatyoucan’tusesquashandstretch,though.It shouldbeusedjudiciouslyandinaccordancewithwhattheobjectisphysicallymadeof.

AgreatuseofthisprinciplecanbeseeninthemovieCars(2006).Watchthismoviewith

this in mind, and you’ll notice the subtle, yet appropriate use of squash and stretch wheneverthevehiclesmoveabout.

Togiveanotherexample,Iwasfortunatetobeinvolvedwiththecomputer-animated

introductionoftheRoadRunnerandWileE.CoyoteinCoyoteFalls(2010).Eventhough

the design of the characters closely followed the model sheets from the original traditionallyanimatedshortfilms,thecharacterswererenderedwithsomewhatrealistic feathersandfur.

Intermsofanimationstyle,wewereabletobesnappyandcartoonywiththeoverall timing.However,becauseRoadRunner’staillookedlikerealfeathers,whenhisbody cametoanabruptstop,hisfeathersneededmoretimetosettle.Itwasachallengingblend of old and new, and the style of motion needed some exploration before we found somethingthatworked.

TIP

THE12PRINCIPLESOFANIMATION

These 12 principles, as introduced by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank

Thomas,inTheIllusionofLife(1981),arethebuildingblocksofourcraft.We’llbe

goingintosomeofthemmoredeeplyandhowtheyrelatespecificallytocartoony

animationthroughoutthebook.

1.Squashandstretch

2.Anticipation

3.Staging

4.Straightaheadactionandposetopose

5.Followthroughandoverlappingaction

6.Slowinandslowout

7.Arcs

8.Secondaryaction

9.Timing

10.Exaggeration

11.Soliddrawing

12.Appeal

LimitedAnimation

Oneextremeofthecartoonydesignspectrumisknownaslimitedanimation,wherethe designispareddowntomoreabstract,simpleshapes.Hanna-Barbera’sTheFlintstones

andTheJetsonsarenotabletraditionallyanimatedexamples.Pocoyo(2005)andJelly

Jamm(2011)wouldbemoremoderncomputer-animatedequivalents.

One of the primary reasons for simplifying the designs is to expedite the animation process,makingitlesstime-consuming,andtherebylessexpensivetocreate.Probablythe greatestbenefitofthisstronggraphicapproachisthatyoucangetawaywiththecharacter beingcompletelystill,movingonlywhat’snecessarytocommunicatetheidea.These types of cartoons are often dialogue heavy, so usually the only thing moving on the characterisitsmouth.Intraditionalanimation,asingledrawingcanbeusedformany frames,resultinginconsiderablecostsavings.Likewise,incomputeranimation,thelessa character moves, the quicker an animator can churn out footage. It’s a cost-saving approach, as not every animated project can have a Hollywood feature film budget. However,becarefulnottocorrelatelimitedanimationwithlowerquality.

TheanimationinPocoyo,forexample,isincrediblywell-conceived,beautifullyexecuted,

anddelightfullycharming.Watchingitcaneasilybringasmiletoyourface.Anystylistic

extreme,likelimitedanimation,willdemandathoughtfulapproachtohowthecharacters

aregoingtomove.Designhasaprofoundimpactonmotionandwhenworkingona

projectwithastrongdesignaesthetic,itmaynotbeobvioushowthecharactersaregoing

tomove,andsomeexperimentationmaybeinorder.

Oneofthebestwaystoexperimentwithhowacharactermightmoveistoanimatewalk

cycles.Walkcyclesarenotalwaysafunfest,butyoucanusethemtoroughlyblockinthe

primaryposes.Theycanbequicklyiteratedandusedasthetestinggroundfordeveloping

thestyleofmotionforaparticularcharacterorevenanentireseries.Regardlessofhow

youdevelopthatpaletteofmovement,thereshouldbeaharmonybetweenhowitlooks

andhowitmoves—andthatmaytakesometinkering.

andhowitmoves—andthatmaytakesometinkering. 1.3 TheFlintstones ,1960–1966 Theanimationin

1.3TheFlintstones,1960–1966

TheanimationinTheFlintstonesisagreatexampleofhowdesigncaninfluencethestyleofmotion.Thebrilliantdesign

ofthecharactersallowedtheanimatorstotakeshortcutstostaywithinamodestbudget,whilemaintainingquality.

StaticHoldsandIsolatedMovement

Oneofthebenefitsofcaricatureddesignisthatwe’reabletotoywithsomeoftherulesof computer animation, bending them and perhaps even breaking them. Early on in my computeranimationcareer,IwastoldthatIshouldavoidstaticholds,wherethecharacter isabsolutelystill,becauseitlookslikethecharacterhasgonecompletelydead.Inreallife, thisisindeedthecase.Nooneisevercompletelystill(unlessthey’redead)andbecause oneofthepursuitsofcomputeranimationistomimicreality,weweretrainedtoavoid static holds. However, as mentioned earlier, limited animation employs static holds liberally.Eveninfeature-qualitytraditionalanimation,staticholdsareusedthroughout. Backgroundcharactersareoftencompletelystillforsecondsatatime.Similarly,main characterswilleaseintoastaticholdforadozenframes.Butinthelandofcomputer graphics,thiswasconsideredano-no.

Likewise,Iwasconditionedtoavoidisolatedmovement,whereapartofthecharacter,say anarm,forinstance,movedwithoutotherpartsofthebodybeingaffectedbyit,another no-no. However, in traditional animation, this is a technique that’s routinely used, especiallyinlimitedanimation.Andjustlikestaticholds,thiswasatechniquethatwasof limitstothecomputeranimator.

However,filmslikeHotelTransylvania(2012)andCloudywithaChanceofMeatballs

(2009)brokefromthesecomputergraphics(CG)restrictionsand,intheprocess,created

somedelightfullyamusingmomentsusingstaticholdsandisolatedmovement.Itwasn’t

thattheanimatorswereignorantofthesetaboos,unknowinglyandmistakenlyanimating

thisway—farfromit.Thegraphicstylizationofthedesignaffordedthemtheopportunity

toexplorethesepreviouslyclosedavenues.

Greatcareandskillisstillneededtoknowwhenandhowfartopushtheanimation.For instance,astaticholdinCG,evenwithhighlycaricaturedcharacters,candemandavery controlledeaseintothatholdinorderforittolookright.Eventhoughwe’reworkingwith visuals that are considerably distanced from realism, the rendered computer-animated image,withitstexturedsurfacesandlifelikeshadows,canstillmakecharactersappear deadifthestaticholdisnothandledwithcare.Itlargelydependsonhowfaradeparture thedesignisfromrealism.Soifyourdesignpermits,experimentwithnewstylesof movement,anddiscoverjusthowfaryoucanpushyouranimation.

movement,anddiscoverjusthowfaryoucanpushyouranimation. 1.4 CloudywithaChanceofMeatballs ,2009

1.4CloudywithaChanceofMeatballs,2009

CloudywithaChanceofMeatballsbrokenewgroundbypushingtheboundariesofcartoonyactioninacomputer-

animatedfeaturefilm.

TIP

ANIMATINGWITHASTYLUS

Intraditionalanimation,itmakesperfectsensetouseastylusasaninputdevicewitha

computer.ButwhatadvantageistheretousingoneinMaya?Partofithastodowith

feelinglikeanartist.There’sjustsomethingaboutholdingastylusthatmakesitamore

visceral,hands-onexperience.Moreimportantly,formyselfandmanyotherartistsI

know,it’sawaytohelpalleviaterepetitivestraininjury(RSI)thatiscommonwhen

usingamouseforextendedperiodsoftime.

Ifyou’rethinkingofmakingthetransitiontoastylus,thebestpieceofadviceIcould

giveistounplugyourmouseassoonasyoupluginyourtablet.Thatwayyouwon’tbe

temptedtouseitinlieuofthestylus,andyou’lldramaticallyshortentheamountof

timeittakestobecomeproficientinitsuse.Inmyexperience,ittooktwoweekstoget

tothatpointandIcouldn’tbehappierwiththeresults.It’snotanironcladguarantee

thatyouwon’texperienceRSIwithastylus,butit’sdefinitelyworthgivingitatryifit

doesindeedhelp.Justonemoretech-tip—I’dstronglysuggestgettingastyluswitha

rockerswitchthathastwobuttonsonthebarrel.Thatwayyoucouldreprogramone

switchtobethemiddlemousebuttonandtheotherswitchtobetherightmousebutton.

ANIMATINGIN2DIN3D

Asidefromcharacterdesign,thinkingin2Dcanplayasignificantrolewhenanimating.

Thegreatthingisthatyoudon’thavetobeamasterdraftsmantothinklikea2Danimator.

We’renottalkingaboutdevelopinganentirelynewsetofskills—we’retalkingabout retrainingourbraintolookatthingsalittledifferentlythanperhapswehavebefore.And it’snotatallcomplicated.Nextaresomesimpleremindersofthingsyoucandotohelp

youthinkmorein2Dwhenitcomestoanimating.

EveryFrameIsaDrawing

Oneofthe12principlesofanimation,definedbytheearlyDisneyanimators,issolid

drawing.Althoughwedon’tdrawourcharactersinthetraditionalsensewhileanimating

in3D,Idothinkit’sagoodmindsettothinkofourposedcharacterasadrawing.Whyis

that?Whenthefinalproductreachestheaudience,it’sdisplayedonaflatscreen,soin

essence,it’satwo-dimensionalimage,adrawing.Butthat’smoreatechnicaldistinction,

andI’dliketoproposeamoreartisticone.Ifwethinkofourposedcharacterasadrawing,

ithelpsusstepoutofthevirtualworldwe’reworkinginandexaminetheimageinthe

morefundamentalaspectsofgooddesign.Byexaminingourcharacterfromtheviewofa

singularcamera,wecanthenevaluatetheimagefromadesignstandpoint,takinginto

accountthingslikecomposition,useofnegativespace,clarity,straightagainstcurves,

contrast,andrhythm.

Ifsomeofthesetermsareforeigntoyou,don’tworry—we’llgointomoredetailinthe

followingchapters.Fornow,however,simplyremindyourselfthatthefinishedproduct,

thefinalframe,isatwo-dimensionaldrawing.Disney’sTangled(2010)isacomputer-

animatedfilmthatexemplifiesthisideawell.GlenKeane,aDisneytraditionalanimation

veteranandananimationsupervisoronTangled,usedadigitaltabletanddrewontopof

thecomputeranimators’work,showinghowtheanimatorcouldtweakandpushtheposes

tomakethemmoreappealing.Hisgreatsenseofdesignandhistraditionalanimation

mindsetshapedthelookofthefilm,andhisfingerprintsareevidentthroughout.

Tangledisn’tanimatedinanovertlycartoonystyle,intheveinoftheclassicLooney

Tunesshortfilms,buttheevidenceofthe2D-centricapproachisclearlyseenandfelt.It’s

eventruerwithcartoonyanimation,wheredistortionsofacharacterwilllookrightonlyif viewed through the main lens. When I really grabbed onto this concept, it became incrediblyliberatingbecauseIdidn’thavetofretaboutwhatmycharacterlookedlike fromeveryangle—Iwasprimarilyconcernedwithwhatwasbeingseenfromthemain camera.Andifitlookedright,itwasright,evenifitwascompletelywrongfromany otherpointofview.We’replayingtotheoneandonlycamerathatmatters,andwecan cheattheposetotakefulladvantageofthat.Thatbeingsaid,youmaybeinastudiooron aproductionwherecamerasareseldomlockeddown,andthatapproachmaynotbe availabletoyou.Thisisespeciallytrueinvideogames.Withtheexceptionofcinematic cutscenes,lockedcamerasareprettyrare,andtheanimationcanbeviewedfromevery possibleangle.Alockedcameraiscertainlypreferred,buteveninthoseinstanceswhere it’snotavailable,cartoonyanimationisnotdependentuponthat.

1.5 HortonHearsaWho ,2008 MayorNedMcDoddstrikesapose.Noticethecurvilinearqualitytothepose,especiallyhisleftarm.Thestandard

1.5HortonHearsaWho,2008

MayorNedMcDoddstrikesapose.Noticethecurvilinearqualitytothepose,especiallyhisleftarm.Thestandard

animationcontrolsofarigcangettheoverallpose,butsupplemental,secondarycontrolsarenecessarytocreatethe

curvesseenhere.It’ssafetoassumethatgreatcarewasgiventothedesignofthisposetomatchthefilm’swhimsical

aesthetic.

AbstractShapes

Onethingthathashelpedmeimmenselyindoingworkthatiscartoonierinnatureisto thinkaboutthecharacterintermsofsimpleshapesandformsratherthansomethingthatis composedofarms,legs,neck,head,andsoforth.Whydoesthismatter?Becausewhen you think of things in a more graphic sense, you begin to think about how shapes communicatemotion.

1.6 DespicableMe ,2010 Thisimagefrom DespicableMe illustrateshowshapescanhavemeaning.Gru’stop-heavydesign,pairedwiththis

1.6DespicableMe,2010

ThisimagefromDespicableMeillustrateshowshapescanhavemeaning.Gru’stop-heavydesign,pairedwiththis

symmetricalposewithlegstaperingintoasmallfootprint,conveysbothdominanceandinstability.Theminionsare

clearlygettingonhisnervesandhe’sabouttolosehiscool.

Avertical,rectangularshapegivesthesenseofstability,somethingthat’srigidandstill—a

lotlikeabuilding.However,ifthatrectangleleansinonedirection,motionisimplied,as

ifthatobjectwereabouttofallover.Astretchedtriangularshapethat’snottouchingthe

groundgivesthesenseofhigh-speedverticalmotion—similartoarocketliftingoffinto

space.

space. 1.7Mayasilhouette

1.7Mayasilhouette

YoucanshowyourcharacterinsilhouetteinMayabyhidinganylightsinyoursceneaswellasbackgroundobjectsor

sets(essentiallyeverythingexceptthecharacter)andpressingthe7key(displaylights).Immediately,you’llseeyour

characterinsilhouette.Incidentally,pressingthe6keyreturnstothetexturevieworthe5keyforshadedview.

Oneoftheeasiestwaystomentallyshiftintothismodeistoshowthecharacterin silhouette,wheretheinteriordetailsareeliminatedandyou’rejustlookingattheoverall

shapeofthecharacter,asseeninFigure1.7.Toshowyouthevalueofthisapproach,let’s

sayyourcharacterhasbeenshotoutofacannonandishurtlingacrossthescreenatan

alarmingrate.Designingyourposetolooklikeanelongatedarrow,withthearmsandlegs

tuckedinsidethesilhouetteofthestretchedbody,stronglysuggestshighspeed.Themore

stretchedtheshape,thehighertheimpliedspeed.Contrastthatwithastrongverticalshape

oncethatcharacterhitsawall,andyou’vegotoneheckofanimpact.

1.8 StarTrek teaserposter,2009

1.8StarTrekteaserposter,2009

TheStarfleetinsigniaisanexampleofshapewithmeaning.Theverticalpointershapegivestheimpressionofan

upwardtrajectory,boldlygoingwherenomanhasgonebefore.

EveryFrameMatters

Likemostcomputeranimationsoftware,Mayacaninterpolatebetweenthekeyframes, doing the job normally assigned to an inbetweener if we’re thinking in traditional animationterms.However,unlikeaskilledinbetweener,Mayadoesn’tunderstandarcs andspacing,soitjustblindlydoesthemath,fillingintheframesbetweenourkeyframes. Regardless, the temptation is there to let Maya take care of the frames between our

keyframes,asitcanbearealtimesaver.Whenthathappens,wheretherearelongeasesin

andoutofourkeyframes,weusuallyendupwithafloatymessthathasnosenseof

timing.

Justasatraditionalanimationinbetweenerwoulddo,weneedtotakecontrolofevery

frame,makingsurethatthereareappropriatearcs,overlappingaction,andsolidtimingin

andoutofeverykeyframe.Doesthatmeanweneedtoanimateeveryframe?Sometimesit

does—especiallyifit’saveryfastactionthatneedstoreadinashortamountoftime.That

maysoundlikeanincrediblydauntingtask,anditis,butit’samindsetthatIbelieveis

necessaryforcartoony-styleanimation.

It’simportanttohavecontrolovereveryframeoftheanimation.Togiveyouapersonal

example,ontheLooneyTunesCGshortfilm,Daffy’sRhapsody(2012),DaffyDuckhad

toscamperupaladderbeforebeingshotbyElmerFudd.Ionlyhadsevenframestowork

withtogetthisdone.Ipleadedformoreframes.ButtheeditwaslockedandIhadtomake

do.Inthisinstance,everyframemattereddearly,andIanimatedeveryframe,paying

carefulattentiontoeverypartofhisbody,tryingtomakeitreadclearly.Aftermakinga

fewrevisionsandincludingasmear-framedfoot,Iwasabletomakeithappen.Wasit

tedious?Sure!Wasitworthit?Absolutely!

NotonlywasIabletomeetthechallenge,but,moreimportantly,itgavemeanewfound

appreciationforhowpreciouseverysingleframeis.That1/24thofasecondistheworld

weliveinandduringthosemomentswherewe’renoodlingeverysingleframe,tryingto

getitright,itcanbedownrightfrustrating.ButIwouldn’thaveitanyotherway.Handing

thereinsovertotheworld’smostignorantinbetweenertoosoonisarecipeforasloppy,

gooeymess.Sotakebackthosereinsandgainsomemasteryoveryourmotion.

1.9 CatsDon’tDance ,1997 Everyframematters,andthiscanbeseenwhenstudying CatsDon’tDance

1.9CatsDon’tDance,1997

Everyframematters,andthiscanbeseenwhenstudyingCatsDon’tDanceonaframe-by-framelevel.Althoughit

didn’tbreakanyboxofficerecords,it’sabeautifullyanimatedfilmthatdeservestobestudiedandappreciated.

INTERVIEW

KENDUNCAN

KenDuncanisananimationveteranandownerofDuncanStudio.Hecontributedto manyoftheclassicsfromthesecondgoldenageofanimation,includingBeautyandthe

Beast(1991),Aladdin(1992),andTheLionKing(1994).Inaddition,Kenwasthe

supervisinganimatorforMegonHercules(1997)andJaneonTarzan(1999),andhe

also successfully transitioned into computer animation, supervising on Shark Tale

(2004)forDreamWorksAnimation.

AtDuncanStudio,hiscompanyhasworkedoneverythingfromfeaturefilms,to

themeparkrides,tocommercials,toaniPadapp.Kentooksometimetosharehis

thoughtsontransitioningtoCG,thefutureofcomputeranimation,andsomehelpful

adviceforanimationstudents.

Canyoutalkalittleaboutwhenyoumadethetransitionfrombeingatraditional animatortobeingacomputeranimator? ThethingaboutmeisthatIalwayswantedtodoCG,soitwasn’tatransitionina

traditionalsense,wherea2DguywasbeingaskedtogoCG.Goingallthewaybackto

whenTron(1982)cameout,IhadseenitandwantedtodoCGanimationthen.Iwasin

anarthighschoolatthetime,andFrankandOlliehadjustcomeoutwithTheIllusion

ofLifebookabouthowtodoDisneyanimation.I’mfromOttawa,Canada,andtheyhad

theanimationfestivalandtheyinvitedFrankandOllietheretolectureabouttheirnew

bookandtheybroughtinRobertAbel,whohadjustdoneTron.

SowhenIsawtheCGstuffandsawFrankandOllie,Ithought,“Wow,itwouldbe cooltomixtheknowledgeofthoseolderguyswithallthisnewstuffthat’shappening.” Iimaginedallthesegreatnewstylesthatcouldbedonewithcomputerssomeday.I wantedtolearnCG,andIwantedtolearnthecharacterperformancestyleofanimation

thatFrankandOllieweredoing,sothatledtometodo2DatSheridanCollege,whereI

tookthefirstclasseverinCGimageryatSheridan.Itwasanightclass,therewerebasic

vectorshapesthatyoucoulddo;theycouldn’tevendofullCGatthetime.Itwas

mostlyprofessionalgraphicdesignersfromTorontothatweretakingthenightclass,and

IthinkIwasoneofthefewguysintheactualanimationprogramthere.SoIwas

alwayslookingouttodoCG.

IeventuallyendedupatDisney,learningthetraditionalcharacterperformancestuff,

which,tome,isnotreallyabout2DorCG.Characterperformancehasnothingtodo

with the tools. It’s really about observing people, what’s your story, what are the personalitytypes,howdotheyworkintoafeaturefilmstory,what’stherhythm,what’s their posing. And then you can apply it, in my opinion, to either hand-drawn or computer.That,tome,iswhatyouasananimatorbringtothetablebeforeanymachine isinvolved.

IfIweretoteachanybodyanything,it’dbethosetraditionalprinciples,youknow, what is timing, what is weight, observe reality, what are personalities, what’s the psychologyofaperson,howdotheyrelatetoanotherperson,howdotheyworkinthe story.Iwouldtalkalotaboutthatstuffbeforetalkingaboutsplinecurvesandstufflike

that—notgettinghunguponthetechnology.

GoingbacktoDisney,whenthingsweremovingtowardsCG,Iwantedtodomore

ofit,soIstartedtodoalittleshortfilmofmyownandIwashiringpeoplefromthe

studiotodomodelingandrigging,andIwaslearningmoreandmoreonmyown.It

wasreallyinthatspiritoftryingtocontinuallylearnthatIwasstartingtodoCG,so

therewasneversortofafeelinglikeoh,Igottalearnhowtodoitbecausethat’swhere

theindustrywasgoing.ItwasalwayswhatIwantedtodo.

Canyoutalkaboutsomeofthetoolsandtechniquesthatyouusedwhenmaking theswitchtoCG? While I was at Disney, there was a gentleman named Oskar Urretabizkaia who

developedtoolsandwaysofworkingthatwereverysimilartoa2Dmethodology.Even

thoughitwasn’tdrawing,itwasreallyabouthowdoyoutimethingsandhowdoyou

applyspacingtoyourCGanimation.Heshowedmesortofthismethodologyandright

awayIwasanimatingontheside.Atthattime,DreamWorkswasstartingtodotheir

firstCGfilminGlendale,andJanetHealywasaproducerwhohadcomefromDisney

andIndustrialLight&MagicandheardthatIwasdoingCGstuffontheside.Shejust

felttherewasavalueinbringinginpeoplethathadexperienceascharacteranimators

assupervisorsintothefoldontoaCGproject.Sheinterviewedme,andIendedup

jumpingfromDisneyandgoingtoDreamWorks,tohelpputtogetherthecharacter

pipelineforSharkTale,andOskaralsowent.Sowecontinuedtodevelopsomeofthe

toolsthathehadsortofdevelopedatDisney,atDreamWorks.

toolsthathehadsortofdevelopedatDisney,atDreamWorks. 1.10 SharkTale ,2004

1.10SharkTale,2004

KenDuncanwasnewtoCG,butthatdidn’tpreventhimfromputtinghis2Danimationskillstothetestwhen

animatingAngieinSharkTale.

SowasSharkTaleyourfirstforayintocomputeranimation?

Yes.IendedupdoingcomputeranimationreallyforthefirsttimeonSharkTale,andI

triedreallyhardtoapproachitasIwouldatraditionalfilm.Igotintothecharacter—I

triedtoactuallymanageonecharacter,whichwasAngie,theRenéeZellwegercharacter

inthatfilm.Iwouldsupervisesequences,butmainlysequenceswithher,andifanother

characterwasinthesequencethatwasnother,Iwouldgiveittoanotherguyinmy

crew,andwewouldsortofplayoffeachother.HewouldanimateOscar,theWillSmith

character,whileIwouldanimateher,andwesortofworkedasactorsplayingoffeach

otherratherthandoingeverythingintheshot.

IworkedwiththetimingtoolsandIworkedwithanassistantactually,anditwas

verymuchthesamemethodologyIhadwith2D.So,forexample,Iwouldthinkof

posing,muchlikeIwouldwith2Ddrawings.Iwouldposeitout,notworkingonanyof

thedetails,trytogetthetimingandposingofthepersonality,showittothedirector,get

hisnotes,andthenapplythechanges.Wehadanexposuresheettool,wherewecould

sendthoseposestothattoolandtimeitout.Andthat’showIwouldshowmyscenes,

withmytimed-outposes,verymuchlikeIwoulddowithdrawings—whereyouscan

them,youtimethemout,youshowthedirector,andthenapplynotes.

ItwentreallywellbecauseIhadamethodologyalready,thewayofworkingandthe way I worked with a crew. So with the animators I had under me, I would cast accordingly.Ifacertainguywasgreatatactionoraguywasgoodatsoft,evenspacing, Imightgivehimacertainsoftmomentwiththegirlcharacter.Andourunitwasvery fastbecausewehadasystem.Itwasn’taboutbangingoutfiveversionsofashot,seeing whichonesticks.Itwasreallytryingtosay,okay,thisisthereasonthecharacter’sin theshot,thisisthesceneinthestory,thisishowitworks,andsortofhavingaplan beforestartingtoanimate.Animatorswouldtalktoeachotherabouttheircharacters, andreallydidn’tseeitasjustonescene,whereyoumovesomethingaroundonthe screen.

It was really about getting into the scene, what was the context, talking to the director,reallydoingalotofresearchbeforeyoustartanimating.Itjustsavesyouso muchtimefromhavingtodothingsoverandoverandoveragain,tryingtoguesswhat peoplewant.

Wherewouldyouliketoseecomputeranimationgofromhere?

WhenIthinkof2D,oneadvantagethatithadwasthatDonBluthdrewacertainway,

andDisneyfolkslikeGlenKeanedrewacertainway.Differentpeoplehaveacertain

wayofdoingthings,andithastheirimprint.Soyouhaveasensibilityof,ohthat’sthat

guy’sstyle,that’sthatguy’sfilm.WarnerBros.hadacertainstylethatwasdifferent

fromDisney,sotherewasalwaysanattemptalmosttohaveyourownlookandyour

ownstyleandtobedifferent.

AndsadlywithCG,everybody’slearningalotofsimilarthings.They’relearning

howtoanimateinasimilarfashion,andthey’relearninghowtomodelthingsina

similarfashion.EvenTexAvery,hisanimationstyleissodifferentfromeverybody

else,andevenintheCGworld,youdon’toftenseesomethingpushedthatfarbecause

thatwouldtakeanextraeffort;theartistwouldhavetoknowposingandtiminga

certainway,andtheremaybefilmsthatareclosetothat,butthere’sreallynodemand

foritfromthestudiosthemselvestopushpeopletodosomethingunique.

It’sreallyaboutproductionandgettingstuffdonebecausethere’ssomuchthatrides

ona$150millionfilm,soit’salmostgoingtobesmallerindependentproductionsthat

are going to push the limit. What I love about short films done by students and independentsisthattheytendtopushthelimitwaymorethanthestudiosdobecause theydon’thavethelimitationstoacertainextentandthestressofhavingtohavethat boxoffice.

SoyoufeellikeCGhasstalledstylistically?

Ithinkthere’ssomuchmorethatcanbedoneinCG,Ireallydo.Becauseofthe

technologyandwhatyoucandowithlightingandrenderingandthingslikethat,there

canbemuchmoreofanillustrativestyle,muchmoreofasurrealisticstyle,there’s

muchmorethatcanbepushed.

Maybepushyourartiststoriginawaythatallowsforalotmorecreativityand freedom,toallowyouranimatorstopushthingsinadifferentway,andtomaybetryto geteachanimatortohavehisorherownsortofuniquelook.Thatisn’tnecessarilya negativethingasitisseeninalotofCGproductionsnow—Iseeitinapositiveway.If acertainanimatorwantstopushaposeinabroadwayandanotherpersondoesn’t,then whynot?Ifthat’sthatperson’sthing,thenmaybefindawayofcreatingsomecontent that actually works to the advantage of the uniqueness of their ability. It brings a humannesstoit,anditisn’tjustafactoryapproachtomakingthefilms.

Ifyouwanttogobacktotheearlydaysofanimation,the1920s,theywerealltrying

tofindafactoryapproach.That’swhathappenedtoanimationinthosedays,whetherit wasdrawingaheadusingaquarter,orwhateveritwas,itwasjustlikehowcanwe crankthisstuffout,anditallbecamesimilaranditalllookedthesame.Infact,inthe

early1920s,animationwasreallyfaltering,andevenbythelate1920s,itwasn’treally

apopularartformanymore.ThenyouhadaguylikeDisneythatsaid,let’spushthisart formtoanotherlevel,andhewasconstantlydoingstuffdifferently.I’mnotsayingto copytheDisneyapproach,orthelook,buthissensibilityoftryingtodosomething differenteachtimeisreallythewaytolookatanimationinthefuture.Reallytakethat conceptofhowcanwedosomethingthathasn’tbeendone.Andreallytrytopushthe crew to learn new things, in order for them to think of ways of pushing things themselves.

Ithinkthere’ssomuchmorethatcanbedoneinCG,Ireallydo.Becauseofthe

technologyandwhatyoucandowithlightingandrenderingandthingslikethat,

therecanbemuchmoreofanillustrativestyle,muchmoreofasurrealisticstyle,

there’smuchmorethatcanbepushed.

KenDuncan

Whatareyourthoughtsonanimationacting?

WhenIseesomeliveactionfilms,acharactermightbedoingsomethinginakitchen,

orpackingasuitcase,butthey’retalkingaboutstuffthat’smuchdeeper.Maybeit’s

someoneleavinghome,andtheirmothercomesinandtalkstothemasthey’repacking

theirsuitcase.Ithastobesomethingthat’sinthemoviethat’slike,ohthisisagreat

charactermoment,butit’snottheusual“twocharactersstandingtheretalkingtoeach

other,”whichtomeisgettingveryboringtowatch.

Thenyoucanchoreographthewaytheyarewalkingaroundeachotherinthatspace,

andaretheytryingtogetawayfromeachother,oraretheyturningawayfromeach

other?Idon’tevenhearpeopletalkingaboutthiskindofstuffinanimationwhen

they’redoingsequences.We’renottalkingaboutwhat’stherhythm,what’sthesubtext,

youknow,thisisthereasonwhythey’returningaway.

Even with Oscar, the Will Smith character in Shark Tale, I thought he was a characterthatwassophonytopeople.Hewasputtingonthisactofbeingthissortof sophisticatedconfidentguy,buthehadalltheseinsecuritiesandhehadthesedreamsof beingsomebodybiggerthanhewas,andhewaskindofaconman.ButIalwaysfelt whenhewastalkingtopeople,thatheshouldbetryingtoevadethemsothathewould actuallyturnhisheadawaywhilehewastalkingtothem,lookingaround,andnotreally lookingatthemeyetoeye.Sothatlater,whenAngieconfrontshimonanemotional level,ithitshiminthefacethathe’sbeenareallyterribleperson.That’swhenyousee hismaskfallandhe’dbelookingathereyetoeye.

Sotome,thenyouhavetomakethatdecisionearlyon,like,thisisawaytocreate

hisperformancesothathecomesoffinacertainway,butithastobelaidoutinthe

beginning.Iwasjusttryingtofigureoutawaytomakehimalittlebitmoreofan

interestingcharacterbasedonhowhispersonalitywas,andhowyoucouldconveythat

inhisacting.WhenI’manimatingcharacters,Itrytothinkofpeopleinmyownlife

thatIexperiencedorsomethingImyselfhavegonethrough.SoifI’manimatingAngie,

IwouldactuallythinkofsituationswhereIhavebeeninanargumentwithsomebody,

andIcouldseethereactionofthatpersonwhenIsaidsomethingreallystupid.ThenI

wouldbringthosepersonalexperiencestotheanimation.

Whatadvicedoyouhaveforstudentsenteringthefield?

Youalwayshavetothinkofyourselfasanactororperformer,andjustforgetthe

computer.Learnit,ofcourse,butusewhat’sgoingtomakeyouunique,andtomeit’s

alltheotherknowledgethatyoumighthave.Readalotofstuff,readabouttheworld,

readabouthistory,readothertypesofbooks,gooutandexperiencewhatothertypesof

peoplethereare,andjustsortofenjoyeverything—eventhenegativethingsthatarein

life.They’realwaysgoingtobethere.They’rejustpartofliving,anddowhatyoucan

todrawfromallthosesortsofthingsinapositiveway,sothatwhenyou’reanimating,

maybeyoucanbringsomethinguniquetoit.

AtDisneybackintheday,Ihadtheselittlelunchtimelectures,andIwouldshow

BusterKeaton,CharlieChaplin,andHaroldLloyd.Ipersonallylovesilentfilms,but

whatIfoundreallyinterestingabouteachofthosethreeguysisthattheyallworked

differentlyfromeachother,andtheywereallverysuccessfulatwhattheydid.Soit’s

notlikeoneguywastotallycopyingtheotherguy.Infact,HaroldLloydearlyinhis

careertriedtocopyCharlieChaplin,anditjustdidn’tworkatall.Sohehadtofindhis

ownpersonality,hisowncharacterthathebelievedintosatirizewhatwasgoingonin

lifeatthattime.Andsomuchofanimationislikethat;it’ssortofsatirical.

Ithinkinfeaturesifyoucancapturetheemotionalaspectofit,thenthat’sreallythe

key.It’snotjustaboutgags.Andbasicallywhatwe’redoingwithfeaturefilmsiswe’re

tryingtoshowpeoplewhatstorytellingreallyis.We’retryingtoshowpeoplehowto

dealwithproblemsinlife,aguidepostforyoungpeople.Like,whenyougetina

situation,thisishowyoucanovercomeit.Andthat’swhatanyfilmreallyis—it’sa

moralitytale,toacertainextent.Youmaynotagreewiththevillain,butyouhavetotry

tounderstandwhyhe’sdoingit,andthat’sreallyunderstandinghumanbehavior.And

usuallyitdoesgobacktowhentheywereyounger,wheresomebodymadethemfeel

bad,andsotheyhaveaneedforrevengeorwhatnot.

LookatwhatBradBirddidwithTheIncredibles(2004).Thevillainwasreally

somebodythatwaslookingforapplause.Hewantedtobeasuperhero,nottohelp

peoplebuttogettheaccoladehefeelsthathedeserves.Youknow,yourvillainusually

hasthesamedesiresasyourhero,usuallyforthewrongreason,andthat’swherethe

moralitytalecomesin.It’sliketwosidesofatale,andthebadsideisthewrongwayto

live,andthegoodsideistherightwaytolive,sothat’sreallywhatwe’redoingwith

thesefilms.

Butpursuinganimation,it’sreallyfiguringoutwhyIamdoingit.Formepersonally,

itwastotellstoriesofcharacters,andhowdoesthecharacterfitintothismoralitytale,

andhowcanIusemytalentstobringmycharactertofruition?Ifyou’renotinterested

inresearch,notinterestedinpersonalities,andnotinterestedindoinghardwork,thenI

thinkit’sreallynottheindustryforyou.Alotofpeopledogetintoitbecausetheythink

it’seasymoney.Iftheymovethingsaroundfromatob,maybetheywillhaveajobfor

awhile,butIdon’tknowhowlongyou’lllastintheindustry.

I think CG is at a point where the software has become so commonplace that anybodycandoit.Somekidinhishousecandoananimatedfilm,whichisamazing. AndIsaidonceinalecturethattheJustinBieberofanimationisgoingtocomefrom that.It’sgoingtobesomekidthat’sreallygeniusatdoingcharacterperformanceand storytellingandhe’sgoingtogetacoupleofhisbuddiesandthey’regoingtomake thesereallyinexpensivefilmsthatareverypopular.Soyeah,howdoyoucompetewith that?Andthattomeistomakesureyouranimationisreallystrongfromaperformance standpoint.

OVERTOYOU!

Ineachchapter,I’llconcludewithacalltoaction,somethingyoucando

toreinforcethetopicsdiscussedwithinthechapter.Thisfirstoneisan

easyone—watchcartoons.Watchyourfavoritefilmsthroughthelensofa

designer.Itoftenhelpstoturnofftheaudiosothatyou’reforcedtolook

atthingspurelyfromavisualstandpoint.Lookathowthecharactersare

designedandhowthataffectstheirmovement.Lookatshapesandforms

thatarecreatedandwhattheyconveyonavisceraloremotionallevel.

Ifit’sacomputer-animatedfilm,trytoforgetthatit’screatedinathree-dimensional

worldandlookatitasifit’sadrawingorpainting,whereeverythingexistsonatwo-

dimensionalplane.Also,inlookingahead,I’dliketoencourageyoutolookframeby frame through some of the faster action scenes to see some of the inventive

techniquesthatwe’llbecoveringinChapter6.Watchforthingslikemultiplelimbs,

smearframes,motionlines,andstaggers.Ifyou’rewatchingthemonyourcomputer, take screen grabs and save them for inspiration and future reference. I’d also encourageyoutowatchtraditionallyanimatedmovies,wherethesetechniquesare more prevalent. Here are some suggestions of films that liberally use these techniques.

First,IrecommendTheDoverBoysofPimentoUniversity(1942),whichisnotablefor

itsuseofsmearframes.Trustme,theyareprettycrazy.CatsDon’tDance(1997)isa

beautifullyanimatedfilmthathasboththeWarnerBros.’ssnapandDisney’spolish and is full of multiple limbs and smears. A third example is Aladdin, for the wonderfullyfluidGenieanimation,againfullofmultiplelimbsanddistortions— primarilyseenonGenie,butalsoonAbu.I’dalsoencourageyoutofindoneofthe fewexampleswhenAladdingoesintoacrazydistortedsmear.Lastly,justaboutany Looney Tunes or Tex Avery cartoon is going to be jam-packed with cartoony goodness,demonstratingmanyofthesecartoonytechniques.Bytakingthetimeto watchsomeoftheactionframebyframe,you’llbetrulyamazedandinspiredby whatyousee.

CHAPTERTWO ANIMATIONPLANNING Startinganewscenecanbebothanexhilaratingandaterrifyingexperience.Exhilarating

CHAPTERTWO

ANIMATIONPLANNING

Startinganewscenecanbebothanexhilaratingandaterrifyingexperience.Exhilarating inthatit’sacleanslate,achancetocreatesomethingmemorable.Plus,we’reactually animatingforaliving—howcoolisthat?Terrifyinginthatperhapsthiswillbetheshot thatIcompletelymessup,revealingtothedirectorjusthowincrediblyineptIam.From whatIgather,thisisafearsharedbymany.Planningyourshotbeforeyoubegin,evenif it’s couch-time, sitting and visualizing the scene, can help prevent the latter from happening.JumpingintoMayarightawaydoes,sometimes,workoutjustfine.There’sa chancewe’llhittheballoutofthepark.

Butanimatorscan’tconsistentlyoperateonchance,expectingtocreateagreatsceneevery time.Knowingwhatyou’regoingtodobeforesettingasinglekeyframeoftenmeansthe

differencebetweenagreatsceneandjustamediocreone.I’vebeenanimatingfor10years

now,andI’veprobablyanimatedabout20minutesofanimationinthattime.

However,I’monlyreallyproudofabouttwoofthoseminutesandofthosetwominutes,

alloftheminvolvedsomelevelofplanningbeforejumpingintoMaya.Planningdoesn’t

guaranteeagreatscene,butitdoessignificantlyincreaseyourchances.Thedirector,and

ultimatelytheaudience,deservesthebestwecanoffer,soit’sourresponsibilitytonot

skipoverthisstep.

Atitscore,planningisjustexploringmanydifferentoptionsandchoosingthebestone.It usuallyconsistsofsomecombinationofthumbnaildrawingsandlive-actionreference.In thischapter,we’lldiscussthoseplanningmethodswithrespecttocartoonyanimationand howyourworkcangreatlybenefitfromthem.Thisbookisprimarilyconcernedwiththe mechanicsofmotion;however,we’lldiscussthestateofanimationactingandhowit relates to cartoony animation. Lastly, we’ll dive into the planning that went into the animation,BlindDate,includedinthisbook,sothatyoucanseethefirststepstakento createit.

THUMBNAILS

Thumbnailsaresimple,exploratorysketchesthatarewonderfulforworkingoutmany ideas in a short amount of time. They’re an incredibly useful tool for any animated performance.Butwhatdistinctadvantage,ifany,dothumbnailsofferwhencraftingan exaggeratedperformance?Thewholeideaofcartoonyactionisthatit’slargerthanlife,an exaggeratedinterpretationofthenaturalandreal.Oneofthestrengthsofthumbnailsis thatthey’reinherentlyacreativeendeavorwhereyouengagetherightsideofyourbrain topullfromyourimagination.Thiscanleadtothinkingoutsidetherealmofthenatural andgiverisetosometrulyoriginalandentertainingideas.Becauseofthis,thumbnailsare agreatgo-towhenplanningacartoonyshot.

Manyanimatorswillstartwithvideoreferenceandthendothumbnailsbasedonthat.

However,startingyourplanningwiththumbnailsallowsyoutoapproachthescenefroma

purelyimaginativeplace.Feelfreetojumprightinandstartexploringsomeideas.If

you’restuckstaringattheblanksheetofpaper,Iwouldsuggestthatbeforeyoulaydown

somelead,closeyoureyesandplaythesceneoutinyourmind,visualizingtheposesand

themovement.Anddon’tjudgeyourideasatthisstage,asyou’reboundtoregurgitate

someclichés.It’sgoodtogetthoseoutofyourhead.Simplyputtingthemdownonpaper

canallowyoutomovepastthem.Beprolificandfillupanentirepageormorewiththese

quickthumbnails.MiltKahl,oneofDisney’sanimationlegends,wouldcreatedozensof

variationsonasingleidea,lookingfortheperfectwaytoexpressit.Wecandowellto

imitateoneofthegreatmastersofourcraft.

imitateoneofthegreatmastersofourcraft. 2.1LineofAction ThisimageofHortonfromBlueSky’s

2.1LineofAction

ThisimageofHortonfromBlueSky’sHortonHearsaWho!isagreatexampleofanexaggerated,cartoonypose.The

lineofactionisclearlyseenasitrunsthroughhisbodyandoutthroughhisleg,creatingasenseofflowwithinthepose.

StickFiguresPlus

Keepthingssimpleanddon’tgetcaughtupinthedetails.Unlessyourshotisaclose-up

andyou’reworkingoutsomefacialexpressions,I’dsuggestnotdrawingthefaceatall.

Thesamegoesforthefingers.Don’tletanyperceivedinabilitytodrawpreventyoufrom

creatingthumbnails.Iliketothinkofthumbnailsasstickfiguresplus.Andeveryonecan

drawstickfigures.Simplicityiskey,andyoudon’tneedmanylinestocommunicatean

idea.

Ibuildmostofmythumbnailsaroundthelineofaction—thisimaginarylinegoesthrough thecharactercreatingafeelingofmovement.Unlessthecharacterisstandingerect,the lineofactionwillusuallybeaCcurveoroccasionallyanScurve.Ithenconstructtherest ofthecharacteraroundit:acircleforthehead,twolinesthattraveldownthesidesofthe character’sbody,continuingondownthroughthelegs.Unlessbotharmsaredownby theirsidesorraiseduphigh,I’llsometimesuseasinglelinetorepresenttheentiretyof botharms.Byparingdownthenumberofstrokesyoumake,notonlywillyoudrawfaster, butyouwillalsohaveasenseofflowandconnectednessthroughthecharacter.Also,by working this way, you can avoid a segmented approach to your drawing, and your thumbnailswillhaveafeelingofrhythmandharmonythatoftentranslateswellwhen posingyourcharacter.

MissionImpossible

Beexpressivewithyourthumbnails.Reallyexaggeratetheposes.Seehowfaryoucan pushthelineofaction.Inadditiontopushingtheposes,lookforopportunitiestopushthe ideas.Theonlylimitisyourimagination,sotrynottogrounditbythumbnailingthings thatareonlyphysicallypossible.ThesheersizeofTweetyBird’sheadmakesflyinganear impossibility.Butwedon’tquestionitwhenhistinywingsflapandhetakesflight.We also don’t question it when Wile E. Coyote can run off the edge of a cliff and be suspendedinmidair,defyingthelawsofgravity—thatis,untilhebecomesawareofit. Whileit’sutterlyunrealistic,it’scompletelybelievablebecausethosearetherulesthat governthatworld.

Thecloserwemovetowardexactingrealityincartoonanimation,themorewe’reatrisk

ofjeopardizingbelievability.Withanimatedfilmmaking,wegettoplaywithandbendthe

rules,whichisanawesomeprivilegeandopportunity.

2.2Thumbnails Infindingthebestwaytoexpressacharacter’senthusiasm,Ithumbnailedoveradozenvariationsonthetheme,trying

2.2Thumbnails

Infindingthebestwaytoexpressacharacter’senthusiasm,Ithumbnailedoveradozenvariationsonthetheme,trying

tocomeupwithsomethingbeyondtheobvious,aposewiththearmsfullyextendedintheair.Thisprocesstakesjusta

fewminutesandcangreatlyenhancethequalityofyourwork.

VIDEOREFERENCE

Whetherit’srecordingyourself,studyinggreatactingmomentsfromfilm,oranalyzing animallocomotiononaframe-by-framelevel,videoreferencehashadaprofoundimpact onanimationplanning.Formanyartists,it’sbecometheprimarymeansofvisualizinga scene before keying poses. They’ll edit the best takes together, and it becomes the foundationforthecharacter’sactingchoicesandforreferencingthephysicalityofthe movement.Itusedtoholdthestigmaofbeingacrutch,somethingthatweakeranimators relied upon. That stigma has mostly evaporated, and now the animation community largelyembracesusingvideoreferenceasanextremelyusefultool.MiltKahlhasan interestingtakeonit:

Ifyouuseliveactionforreference,actually,trulyjustforreference,that’sgreat.Ididthis withJungleBook.Thewaytouseit,Ithink,istolearnsomuchaboutitthatyoudon’t

havetousethereferenceanymore.—MiltKahl,DisneyFamilyAlbum,1984

Sohowdowereconcilewhatananimationlegendhastosayaboutusingreferencesand

howusefulitiswhenworkingonastyleofanimationthatroutinelybreakstherulesof

physics,somethingthatourgravity-boundbodiescan’tescape?Toanswerthatquestion,

let’sstartwithhownottousereference,followthatdiscussionwithanexplorationofyour

actingchops,and,finally,considerhowtoeffectivelycartoonifyyourvideoreference.

HowNottoUseReference

Formostcharacteranimationandespeciallybroad,cartoonyanimation,thewaynottouse videoreferenceistoslavishlycopythephysicalmovement.There’ssomethingnotquite rightwhenthemovementisexactlycopiedfromreallife.Ibelievethemainreasonisthat there’sevennesstothetimingandspacingofliveactionthatlooksoffwhenappliedtoan animated character. It doesn’t stand out so much if the character is realistically proportioned,butitsticksoutlikeasorethumbwhenappliedtocartooncharacters.It seems a bit obvious, but a caricatured character should move in a caricatured way. Achievingrealismisnotourgoal;believabilityis.Itmayseemtobeadistinctionoflittle difference,butthere’sahugegapbetweenthetwo.

difference,butthere’sahugegapbetweenthetwo. 2.3AnimationPlanning

2.3AnimationPlanning

RicardoJostResendedemonstratesthroughhisplanningprocesshowevensubtlechangescanbemeaningful.Noticethe

slightchangesinthethumbnaildrawing,basedonthevideoreference,wheretheposeispushedtocreateamore

dynamicgesture.

CanYouAct?

Whenusingrecordingsofourselvesasameanstoguideouractingchoices,wehavetobe brutally honest about our acting abilities. Keep in mind that if we’re basing the performanceentirelyonwhatwe’reactingout,theanimationisonlygoingtobeasgood astheoriginalmaterial.I’veseensometrulyexpressive,funny,andoriginalactingin videoreference.ButI’vealsoseensomeembarrassinglybadstuff,includingprettymuch allofthevideoreferenceImyselfhavecreated.

Partofitsimplycomesfromexperience.Themoreyoudoit,themorecomfortableyou’ll getinfrontofthecamera.Self-consciousactingisalmostalwaysbadacting.Butinthe grandschemeofthings,someofusarejustbetteractorsbehindapencilthaninfrontofa camera.Thoughforthoseofuswhofitintothatmold,Istillbelievethere’stremendous value in recording video reference. There can be some truly great surprises that can happen,choicesyouwouldn’tnormallyinvent.Plusitcanserveasaspringboardtoother ideas.Youmayalsohavetheoptionofenlistingotherstohelpyouout.Whetherit’sina studio or in a classroom, there’s bound to be someone there who is completely comfortableinfrontofacameraandismorethanwillingtoassistyou.Thesameholds trueforfolksyouknowathome.Surelythere’sboundtobesomegoofballsinyourlistof friendsandfamily.

friendsandfamily. 2.4PushingthePose

2.4PushingthePose

Here’sanotherexamplefromRicardoJostResende’splanning,thistimeshowinghowhewentinamorecartoony

directionwiththeposethanwhatwascapturedinhisvideoreference.Ifyou’dliketoknowmoreaboutRicardo’s

process,checkouttheinterviewfeaturedinthischapter.

CartoonifyIt

Cartooncharacterscomewithbaggage.Certainexpectationsabouttheirbehaviorand

movementhavebeencultivatedthroughdecadesofanimationhistory.That’snottosay

thatweareboundbyacertainprescribedpaletteofmovement.There’sadiverseand

infiniterangeofmotionwecanexplore.However,wedon’twanttolimitourthinkingto

justwhat’sobservable,aswe’dbeatriskofendingupwithmundanebehavior.Wewantto

becarefultonotletthevideoreferencetakeover,dictatingeverychoice.

Sohowdoweavoidthis?

I’drecommendscrubbingthroughthevideotolookforthestorytellingandextremeposes.

Takesomescreengrabs,andthendodraw-oversontopofthem,findingtheessenceofthe

poseandthendistillingandexaggeratingittogettothecoreidea.Onceyouhavethose,

putthevideoreferenceawayfornowandriffoffthedraw-overs,creatingnewthumbnails

thatareoriginal,fun,anddifferentwaystoexpressthesameidea.

Ideallywhatwillhappenisthatyou’llshiftgearsfrombeingleft-brained,analyzingand interpreting the information, to accessing the very right-brained activity of creative exploration. This can lead to some very interesting ideas and can become a solid foundationforwhenyou’rereadytojumpintoMaya.

ANIMATIONACTING

Whentalkingaboutcartoonanimationplanning,alotoftimeisspentonthinkingabout thebodymechanicsandhowthecharacterisgoingtomovephysically.That’stheprimary focusofthisbook.ButI’dliketospendalittletimeonactinganditsroleincartoony animation. It’s been said that animators are actors with pencils. In this digital age, however,it’dbemoreappropriatetosayactorswithmice—thoughthatconjuresupa completelydifferentimage.Regardless,justbecausewe’reworkinginastyleofanimation thatdoesn’tnecessarilyidentifyitselfwithOscar-worthyperformancesdoesn’tmeanthat weshouldn’ttakeactingseriously.

Animation,regardlessofthestyle,istheartofimbuinglifeintosomething.Tocreatethe

illusionofalivingbeing,thatbeingneedstopossesstheabilitytothinkandfeel.That’s

wheretheactingcomesinandthat’showwe’regoingtoconnectwithouraudienceina

meaningfulway.Tobetterunderstandanimationacting,let’sconsiderthestyleofacting

oftenassociatedwithcartoons,howyoumightdevelopandadddepthtoyourcharacters,

andsomeexamplesofactingclichés.

ExaggeratedActing

Animationactingislargelystuckinthepre-Brandodays.BythatImeanthemethod-

actingapproachpopularizedbyMarlonBrando,inwhichactingtookasharpturntoward

thenaturalandnuanced.Priortohistremendousinfluenceincinema,actingtendedtobe

morebroadlygesturedandoverthetopattimes.Itwasmorecloselyalignedwiththeater,

wherethestageactorneedstoplaytothebackrow.Eventhoughtherecertainlyare

exceptions,animationingeneralidentifieswiththisstyleofacting,wherewe’remore

likelytoseeperformancesakintoCharlieChaplinthanMarlonBrando.Andforthemost

part,audiencesarefinewiththis.

The caricatured design of our characters affords us this freedom, and perhaps even expectation, from our viewers. It’s important to point out that broad acting doesn’t necessarilymeanoveracting.WhenDonaldDuckfliesintoafitofrage,sure,it’svery broad and quite exaggerated, but it’s not in any way insincere. He has a volatile personalitysoitringstrue.Sowecanbetruthfuland,atthesametime,exaggerated.Itall stemsfromwhothecharacteris.

2.5CharlieChaplin Asaneageranimationstudent,IwasturnedontotheworkofCharlieChaplinbyoneofmyinstructors—andforgood

2.5CharlieChaplin

Asaneageranimationstudent,IwasturnedontotheworkofCharlieChaplinbyoneofmyinstructors—andforgood

reason.Hiscreative,cleverideasandhisbroad,pantomimeactingstyleareaconstantsourceofinspirationforanimators

lookingtocommunicatewithanaudiencepurelythroughgesture.

2.6MarlonBrando MarlonBrandobroughtactingtoawholenewlevelofsophistication.Animationseemscontenttostaymoreclosely

2.6MarlonBrando

MarlonBrandobroughtactingtoawholenewlevelofsophistication.Animationseemscontenttostaymoreclosely

alignedwiththeateractingthanthemodernmethod-actingstylepopularizedbyBrando.

CreatingCharacter

Mostanimatorsput“CharacterAnimator”astheirtitleontheiranimationreels.Butwhat

exactlydoesthatmean?Isitjustthatwe’reanimatingcharactersinsteadofpropsor

environments?Ithinkitgoesdeeperthanthat.Ifwe’reindeedanimatingcharacters,then

weshouldbecognizantofthefactthatthischaracterisaliving,breathingindividualwith

auniquepersonalityanddistinctcharacteristics.

Justaswecanidentifyaclosefriendfaroffinthedistance,basedpurelyonhisorher

walk,thecharactersthatweanimateshouldpossessindividual,identifiablequalitiesand

mannerisms.Thephysicalcharacteristicsofthecharacterwillinfluencehowtheymove

(whetherthey’retall,skinny,short,rotund,etc.),butwhothecharacterishasjustasmuch

influence.Inmostproductions,whothecharacterishasalreadybeenpredeterminedby

thedirectorand/orcharacterlead,andit’syourjobtomakesureyouractingchoicesare

truetothatcharacter.

Inproductionswhereyou’reincharge,beitashortfilmyou’reworkingonorevenan animation assignment at school, you’ll likely have greater flexibility, so take full advantageofthatandgivethoughtfulconsiderationtowhothecharacterisduringyour planningphase.Creatingabackstoryorhistoryofthecharacterisagoodidea.Andagreat

pieceofadviceistostartwithsomeoneyouknow.Itcanbeacrazyuncleorevenawell-

knownpersonality.It’sokaytosteal,butmakethecharacteryourownandtrytoavoid

stereotypes.

Johnny Depp, when developing his Captain Jack Sparrow character in Pirates of the

Caribbean(2003),couldhavegonewiththestereotypicalpiratecharacterwhogrunts

“Argh”ateveryturn,whichwouldhavebeenashallowandtiredcharacterization.Instead,

hepatternedhisbehaviorafterKeithRichards,thefamousRollingStonesguitarist.Inhis

ownwords:

Iwasreadingaboutthe18thcenturypiratesandthoughttheywerekindoflikerockstars.

So,whenIthought,“Whoisthegreatestrock’n’rollstarofalltime?”ItwasKeith.–LA

Times,2003,“DisneylosesitsinnocencewithfirstPG-13rating.”

2.7 PiratesoftheCaribbean,DeadMan’sChest ,2006

2.7PiratesoftheCaribbean,DeadMan’sChest,2006

JohnnyDepp’sperformanceasCaptainJackSparrowwaslargelymodeledaftertherock-guitarlegend,KeithRichards.

Hisactingchoicesareunique,mademanifestbythisfunandinspireddecision.©2006Disney

JohnnyDeppcameupwithauniquetakeonwhatapirateisandcreatedamemorable

performancebecauseofit.It’salarger-than-lifeperformance,anexaggeratedpersona,but

it’sstilltruthful.Again,thinkfirstaboutwhothecharacteriswhileplanningyourshot.

Themorespecificyouare,thebetteroffyou’llbe.Thiswillgreatlyinformandimpact

youractingchoices.

AnimationClichés

Certainposeshavebeenoverdone.Butsometimesyoumayjusthavetodrawfromthis

fountofwell-worngesturesinordertogettheideaacross.Ianimatedonescenewherethe

characterwasrecollectingsomethingfromthepast.IsworetomyselfthatIwasnotgoing

todotheThinkerpose.IcameupwithsomethingelseentirelyandwasreallyproudthatI

didn’thavetogothere.Duringdailies,however,thesupervisortoldmethatIneededtogo

withtheThinkerpose.Iprotestedatfirst,butIwasremindedthatmyshotwasfairlyshort

andIhadtoquicklycommunicatetheideathatthecharacterwasthinking.TheThinker

posewouldfillthebill.Sufficeittosay,though,ingeneral,it’sagoodideatoavoidthese

poses.

2.8TheThinker PopularizedbyRodin’sbronzesculpture,thisposeshowsupwheneveracharacterisindeepthought.Addachinrub

2.8TheThinker

PopularizedbyRodin’sbronzesculpture,thisposeshowsupwheneveracharacterisindeepthought.Addachinrub

andeyedartstogoevendeeper.

2.9TheBrightIdea Raisedfinger+Raisedbrows=BrightIdea.It’stheequivalentofputtingalightbulboveracharacter’shead.

2.9TheBrightIdea

Raisedfinger+Raisedbrows=BrightIdea.It’stheequivalentofputtingalightbulboveracharacter’shead.

2.10TheFingerPoint CloselyrelatedtotheBrightIdeapose,theFingerPointisextremelyusefulinsituationswhereyoureallywantthe

2.10TheFingerPoint

CloselyrelatedtotheBrightIdeapose,theFingerPointisextremelyusefulinsituationswhereyoureallywantthe

audiencetolookatsomething.

2.11TheFistPump TheFistPumpisaself-congratulatoryposethatcausestheaudiencetoconclude,“Icannolongerbeyourfriend.”

2.11TheFistPump

TheFistPumpisaself-congratulatoryposethatcausestheaudiencetoconclude,“Icannolongerbeyourfriend.”

2.12TheArmHold TheArmHoldisthego-toposefordisplayingcoynessorinsecurity.Forfemalecharacters,it’salmostalways

2.12TheArmHold

TheArmHoldisthego-toposefordisplayingcoynessorinsecurity.Forfemalecharacters,it’salmostalways

accompaniedbytheequallyoverusedhair-tuckbehindtheeargesture.

2.13TheWPose NamedforthefactthatitlooksliketheletterW,thisposeisextremelyusefulforwheneverthecharacterisunsureof

2.13TheWPose

NamedforthefactthatitlooksliketheletterW,thisposeisextremelyusefulforwheneverthecharacterisunsureof

somethingorforwhentheanimatorisunsureofwhatposetouse.

2.14TheNeckRub TheNeckRubwasbrilliantwhenBaloofrom TheJungleBook didit.Butit’sbeenusedsomanytimessincethenthat

2.14TheNeckRub

TheNeckRubwasbrilliantwhenBaloofromTheJungleBookdidit.Butit’sbeenusedsomanytimessincethenthat

it’slostitsimpact.

2.15TheHark “Hark,Ihearsomething.”It’sthesoundoftheaudiencegroaning.

2.15TheHark

“Hark,Ihearsomething.”It’sthesoundoftheaudiencegroaning.

2.16TheThree-PointLanding

2.16TheThree-PointLanding

TheThree-PointLandingisseenmoreofteninblockbusteractionmoviesthancartoons.Regardless,itwouldseemthat

landingonanevennumberoflimbsisunfashionable.

2.17HonorableMention:TheLowerLidTwitch

2.17HonorableMention:TheLowerLidTwitch

Sinceitisisolatedtothelowerlid,LowerLidTwitchdoesn’tqualifyasbeingapose.Still,wheneveracharacteris

stunnedorinintensepain,itoftenmakesanappearancesoitdeservesamention.

TIP

STUDYINGCARTOONS

I’vehearditsaidthatweshouldn’tstudyanimatedfilmsandthatweshouldalwaysgo

tothesource,observinglife,orelseourworkcouldbecomeashallowrepresentationof

life.WhileIagreethatweshoulddefinitelypullfromlifeandlife’sexperiences,Ialso

believethatweshouldlooktothemastersofourcrafttostudyhowthey’veapproached

thechallengeswe’reboundtoface.

Whenlearningtodraw,it’sacommonpracticetostudyandcopythemastersand

throughthatprocesslearnfromthem.Ibelievethesameapproachshouldbeappliedto

animation.There’salotwecanlearnfromstudyingwhatthey’vedone.Copyingisnot thegoalandshouldneverbe.Learningisthegoal.So,cuttingoffanavenueoflearning is something I can’t get behind. Notice that we’re not watching cartoons to study content, looking for ideas we can lift, and use in our own work, we’re watching cartoonstostudytechnique,toseehowtheydealtwithchallengingproblems.Sowatch cartoons!Studythemframebyframeanddiscovertheinventivesolutionsthatcanspur youontogreaterwork.

INTERVIEW

RICARDOJOSTRESENDE

RicardoJostResendeisarecentgraduateofAnimationMentor,anonlineanimation school,whoseworkhasbeenfeaturedintheirAnimationShowcase.He’safull-time freelanceanimatorwhohasworkedonanumberofprojectsincludingTheNutJob

(2014)featurefilmandtheincrediblyinventive,interactiveshort-filmsWindyDayand

BuggyNight.HelivesinBrazilwithhislovelywifeandyoungson.Hisinspiring animation is the result of his dedication to planning and utilizing video reference,

thumbnails,andevensome2Danimation.IsatdownwithRicardotofindoutmore

abouthisplanningprocess.

Youranimationisoftenveryexpressiveandcaricaturedattimes.Wheredoesthat comefrom?Whatinspiresyou? Well,Ireallyenjoywhenanimatedfilmsgoinacartoonydirection.Thatremindsmeof

theoldcartoonsandsome2Danimatedtelevisionshows.BlueSkyhassomegreat

cartoongimmicksintheirmovies.Presto(2008)iscurrentlyoneofmyfavoriteshorts

withitsfastpaceandstrongposes.CloudywithaChanceofMeatballshasanawesome

animationstyle.It’snotatypicalsquashandstretchcartoonbutisstiffwithreally

graphicalposes.Ialsoliketofollowgreatanimators’reelstoseewhattheyaredoing,

andthatinspiresmetokeepgrowing.

My preference for caricature performances also comes from live action films. I remembermyfatherbuyingpilesofCharlieChaplin’sDVDsandthewholefamily watching them and laughing. The silly gags performed by just body language and mechanicsmakesanentertainingproductforthewholefamily,similartowatchingthe circus.Thehumanbodyforthisartformistheessentialmeansofexpression.

Actors like Chaplin were very expressive and showed very clear attitudes and personalities.Ofcourse,partofthisperformancewasduetothelackofcinematography fromthattime,butthisistheessentialkeyofgreatanimationinmyopinion—whenthe character clearly communicates the idea and entertains the audience without sophisticatedcamerasandrefineddialogue.Evennowadays,wehaveactorslikeJim Carreywhohaveanimpressivevisualperformance.IrememberwhenIwasyoung

watchingTheMask(1994)andbeingimpressedbythecartoonappealofthatfilm,

partiallyduetohison-screenperformanceinthisandotherfilms.

Canyoudescribeyourplanningprocess? Itrytouseeverytoolatmydisposal.Ishootvideoreference,thumbnailasmuchas

possible,anddo2DanimationpassesbeforegoingintoCGblocking.Thisisavery

organic process. Sometimes I shoot video references first, and sometimes I do thumbnailsfirst.Italldependsonhowtheideafortheshotisinmymind.Whenthe footageistoolongorifit’smoreofapantomimeshot,Iusuallystartthumbnailingto figureoutthemainbeatsofthestory.EvenduringtheCGprocess,Ishootreferenceor drawovertheMayaplayblaststofigureoutsomespecificmovements.

WhenIshootreference,Itrytothinklikeanactor,fromtheinsidetotheoutsideof

thecharacter,findingthecharacter’sinternalmotivations.

2.18Ricardo’sPlanningThumbnails

2.18Ricardo’sPlanningThumbnails

AsyoucanseeinRicardoJostResende’sthumbnailsfromanAnimationMentorphysicalityassignment,onlythe

necessarydetailsareshown.Thatbeingsaid,carefulthoughtisgiventothesilhouettevalueofeachgesture,sothe

ideacanbequicklyreadandclearlycommunicated.

Ifit’sapantomimeshot,Ifocusonthecharacter’smotivationsandfindsomeinternal

dialoguetoactitout.Ifit’sadialogueshot,Iliketowritedownthethoughtsbehindthe

phrases.Thisway,Iamdoingthingsinstinctivelythatmighthelptosellthecharacter

andthesubtextoftheshot.I’mnotagoodactor,andwhileIbelieveananimator

doesn’tneedtobe,Idothinkshootingreferencealsohelpstogetsomegenuineacting

choicesthatcanbeusedintheanimation.It’salsohelpfulforcaricaturingthemlater.

Aftershootingseveraltimes,it’stimetoedit.Inthisprocess,Ifeellikealive-action

directorchoosingthebesttakefortheshot,butwiththeadvantageofmixingmorethan

onetakeintothesametimeline.SometimesIhavemorethanoneoption.Ifso,Istrive

togetsomefeedbackandthenchoosethebest.

Forthethumbnails,Ilookforgooddesignontheposesthatclearlycommunicates the desired attitude. In this process, I always have a back-and-forth dialogue with myself,suchas,“Whatisthisposetellingme?”or“Isthisgoingtoselltherightideaor isitgoingtobeambiguous?”It’sagoodtimetoexperimentduringthethumbnail processasthesketchesusuallycomequickly.Forthefirstdrawings,thereisnoneedfor detailsatall.Atthisstage,it’smoreaboutthegestural,rhythmic,andflowofthebody parts.WhenIfeelconfidentwithsomeposes,Istartdrawingthecontourandrevealthe

silhouettealittlebitmore.

BeforegoingtoCG,IusuallygotoFlashanddoa2Danimationpass,whichisa

goodwaytoestablishtheoveralltimingoftheanimationbasedonthethumbnailsand videoreference.It’sagreatopportunitytotrydifferentideasinmotion,sinceI’m alreadyworkingatthetimeline.IkeepthedrawingsverylooseatthisstagebecauseI justwanttofeeltheanimation,notseetheanimation.Iusuallyemphasizethelineof actionandtherelationshipbetweenposes,doingsomebreakdownsandseeingwhich parts of the action lines would go where. These decisions can help me see which movementsaremostappealing.It’simportanttopushtheposesandtiminghereso whenI’mintheCGprocessIcaneasilydialitbackifnecessary.Theopposite(waiting untilinCGprocesstopushtimingandposes)isusuallyharder.

Duringcrunchtime,areyoustillabletothoroughlyplanoutyourshots?

Notcompletely,butIalwaystrytoplanoutsomethingbeforegoingintoCG.Ibelieve

thethumbnailingprocessisthemostcommontoolIuseforplanning,evenifit’sjust

doingsomequicksketchesonpaper.Thumbnailingisagoodwaytovisuallygetyour

ideasoutthererightafterreceivingabriefing.

Fortheotherstagesofplanning,italldependsonthestyleofanimationandthe pipeline that you’re in. For example, if I’m working on a tight schedule and the animationstylemustberealistic,justdoingvideoreferencemightbeagoodchoicefor meetingthedeadline.However,ifI’monacartoonyprojectwithatightschedule, exploring the ideas in thumbnails and/or a 2D animation pass would probably be sufficient.

Inmyshortexperienceinfeaturelengthfilms,I’vetriedtocreateablockingpassas soonaspossiblesothatIcangetfeedbackfromthesupervisoranddirector.Theyjust seetheMayaplayblasts,andnothingbeforethat.So,rightaftertheygivemeashot briefing,describingwhattheyhaveinmindfortheshot,Istartthumbnailingit,asking myselfhowIcancommunicatetheirideaswiththeseposes.Sometimes,whentheshot needsmoreactingchoices,Ishootsomevideoreference,orwhenitneedsmorebody

mechanics,Idoa2Danimationpass.Irarelydobothifthedeadlineistight.

Whenusingvideoreference,howdoyoudecidewhattopushintermsofposesand timingwhenapplyingittoyouranimation? Whenyouhaveagoodposeonthevideoreferencethatyouthinkcommunicatesthe rightidea,youcanpushthisposebysimplifyingthelines.It’slikeusingagestural approachonfiguredrawings—youcantellwhatthecharacterisdoingorfeelingwith just a few action lines. Having these lines in mind, you can push the pose and exaggerateitbasedonthelineofactionandagoodsenseofdesign.

Asageneralrule,thetypeoflinethatyouputinyourposedependsonhowthe

energyisflowingintoyourcharacter.Whentheenergyislowandtheactingmustlook

morecasual,theposesareusuallymadetobemorebroken,withmoreSlines,because

everymovementisoverlaidbyothermovements.Butwhentheenergyishigh,thereis

anexplosionofemotion,sothelineofactionislessbrokenandtendstobeinasingle

arc.Whenaforceisbuildingfromsomepartofthebody,you’llprobablyhaveasharp

angleinthere.Attheend,youhavetodiscoveragoodbalancebetweentheseconcepts,

thinkingaboutwheretheforceiscomingfromandwhereit’sgoing.

Topushthetimingfromthereference,Ilookfortimeswhenthemovementspeeds

upandwhenitholds.Agoodpieceofadviceistoexplorespeedinguporslowingdown

thefootageintheeditingsoftware.Generally,fastmotionworksbestforthecartoony

effect,anditlooksfunnier.Ifyouseetheoldblack-and-whitemovies,you’llseethat

thesefilmsusedtoplayinafastermotionthanrealtime.

WhatchallengesdoyoufacewhentranslatingyourideasintoCG? ThefirstchallengeistotransferthelinesofactionfromthumbnailsintoCGposes,and makingthemasflowingaspossible,aswellasworkingonthesilhouette.Iftherig doesn’thavebendcontrolsforarmsandlegs,it’snotaproblematall.Thekeyisthe positionandrotationofthejointssotheyformafluidline.It’sachallenge,too,figuring outthetwistsofthetorso,asthethumbnailsusuallydon’thavethisinformation.The twists can make your pose dynamic and also help to show the physicality of the character.

Ialsoliketoconsiderthedeformationofthemesh.Ifthisisforafeaturefilm,the mesh usually has textures and lighting applied, so it’s important to see how your characterisdeforminginaCGspace.EspeciallywhenI’manimatingfatcharacters, I’velearnedthatit’snotaboutlineactionsandtwists,astheyusuallyarenotsoflexible, butit’smoreaboutsquashandstretchandtheoverallsilhouetteofthepose.

Whatadvicedoyouhaveforstudentslookingtopushtheirworkintoamore

cartoonydirection?

Keepinmindthateveryposeexpressesattitude,beaudacious,makeithuge,andyou

willsellittotheaudience.Tofindthoseposes,shootreferencesandmaketheacting

genuine.Translateittopaper,findingtheactionlines,makingitgraphical.Doapencil

testandexploremoreopportunities,feelthemovement,andbelooseonthesketches.

Neverforgetthephysicality.Usetherulestoyouradvantagebut,atthesametime,

havethefreedomtobreaktherules.It’sgreatwhentheaudienceseessomethingthatis

impossibletodobutfeelsright.Learnfromtheoldfilms,wheretheactorsusetheir

physicalitytotheiradvantagetomaketheperformancegreatandentertaining.Havinga

touchofrealityincartoonsmakesitmorebelievable.

Andhavefun!

Learnfromtheoldfilms,wheretheactorsusetheirphysicalitytotheiradvantage to make the performance great and entertaining. Having a touch of reality in cartoonsmakesitmorebelievable. RicardoJostResende

STEP-BY-STEPWALKTHROUGH

Inprovidinganimatedexamplesforthisbook,Idecidedtocreatesomethingthatincluded

allthetechniquespresented.Insteadofdoingaseriesofdifferentanimationswitheach

focusingonaseparatetechnique,Icreatedasingleanimationthatwoulddemonstrate

themall.Youcanviewanddownloadthefilmandrigatthecompanionwebsite.

Here’stheconceptbehindtheanimation:Mr.Buttons,ahappy-go-luckycat,isonhisfirst

blinddate.Heconfidentlyapproacheshisdate’shouseandknocksonthedoor.Whenit

opens,hisnot-so-subtlereactionrevealshissurprise.

In planning for the animation, because I was going to incorporate broad cartoony- animationtechniques,Idecidedtostickwiththumbnails.Becausemostoftheactionsare highlyphysicaland,frankly,impossibletodoinliveaction,shootingvideoreference probablywouldn’thavebeenofmuchuseandwouldlikelyresultininjurytomyself. Whatfollowsaremyexploratoryideas,includingthediscardedones.I’vecircledthe posesthatIliked,formingthefoundationofmyperformance.

I’dliketopointoutthateventhebest-laidplansofmiceandmengoastray,andtherewill

bechangesthroughouttheanimationprocess.Mostofthechangescomeaboutduring

critiques.Eitheryou,yourpeers,yoursupervisor,orthedirectorwillfindabetterwayto

communicatetheidea.Someofthesechangescanbeverytimeconsumingtoimplement

—especiallyiftheycomelateinthegame.Butthisisnormal.It’saveryfluidprocess,so

expectthesechangesandhavethemindsetthatit’sthebestideathatwins.

2.19Mr.Buttonsapproaching

2.19Mr.Buttonsapproaching

ThispageofthumbnailsisallaboutMr.Buttons’sapproachtothehouse.Insteadofhavinghimjustwalkuptothedoor,

IthoughtI’dhavealittlefunbyhavinghimwalkafewsteps,pause,anticipate,andthensmearintoastop.

2.20Mr.Buttonsgrooming

2.20Mr.Buttonsgrooming

HereMr.Buttons,inadditiontoknockingandpresentingflowers,islickinghispawandslickingbackhishair.Ithought

itwouldbeafunbitofbusiness—somethingacatwoulddo.

itwouldbeafunbitofbusiness—somethingacatwoulddo. 2.21Hightailingitouttathere

2.21Hightailingitouttathere

Finally,wehavehisTexAvery-styletake,whichIplannedonstaggeringinto.Ialsodecidedtousemultiplelimbsfor

thescrambleandincorporatemotionlineswhenheexitsquickly.

OVERTOYOU!

Mr.Buttonsisreadyandwaitingforyoutobringhimtolife!However,as thischapterhasdemonstrated,animationbeginsbeforeyouevensetyour firstkeyinMaya.Itbeginsintheplanningstage,whereyougenerate your ideas and think through all the choices beforehand. I’d like to encourageyoutofollowalongwithmeandanimateyourownshot.You candosomethingsimilarorsomethingcompletelynew.

PerhapsMr.Buttonscouldbeenamoredwithwhatheseeswhenthedooropens.Or hecouldbethetimidtype,knockingonthedoorandquicklyduckingbehindthe house,headpeekingouttoseewhoopensthedoor.OrMr.Buttonscouldbedoing something entirely different—it’s completely up to you. Whateveryou do, try to thinkBIG!NotBIGintermsoflength,asyou’llwanttokeepitshort,butBIGin termsofstyleandstory.Exaggeration,oneofthekeyprinciplesofanimation,iswhat setsitapartfromliveaction,soweshouldcapitalizeonit,bringingasenseofthe extraordinarytoourcraft.

Yourplanningdoesn’thavetobeexhaustive.Itcantakeaslittleasahalfhourto

quicklyshootsomevideoreferenceandorthumbnailoutsomesketches.Regardless,

it’stimewellspent.Whetheryouutilizevideoreference,thumbnails,acombination

ofthetwo,orsomethingelseentirely,simplytakingsometimetothinkthroughyour

shotwilllikelysavetimeintheendandincreasetheprobabilitythatyou’llcreate

animationthat’sbothmemorableandsomethingtobeproudof.Takethattimenow

andhavefuncomingupwithsomewonderfullywackyideasasIguideyouthrough

eachstepinthisprocess.

Afteryou’veplannedoutyourshot,we’llbeginposingMr.ButtonsinMayainthe

nextchapter!

CHAPTERTHREE THEPOSETEST You’rereadytoanimate!You’vegotyourplaninhand,andyou’reanxioustostartsetting keys and

CHAPTERTHREE

THEPOSETEST

You’rereadytoanimate!You’vegotyourplaninhand,andyou’reanxioustostartsetting keys and breathing life into your virtual puppet. This chapter will focus on the first animationpass,theposetest.

What exactly is a pose test? Put simply, it’s a test to see if your poses are reading, communicating what you’re hoping to convey to an audience. It’s the foundational, storytellingposes—thebareminimumneededtogetyourideaacross.Formostshots,it’s typicallyjustahandfulofposes.Withaposetest,you’regenerallynotconcernedwith thingslikelip-sync,hair,orclothing.Sometimesyou’renotevenposingthehand,though I’mnofanofthedefault,Ping-Pongpaddlehand—moreonthatlater.Youwanttoiterate quickly,soyou’renotgettingcaughtupinunnecessarydetails.Thisapproachwillallow youtomakebroadchangestoyourworkbasedonfeedback.Thispassisalsooften referredtoasblocking—samething,differentterm.Iliketousethetermposetestbecause

it’smoredescriptiveandharkensbacktotheold2Ddays.

Whateveryouchoosetocallit,it’sprobablythemostenjoyablepartoftheprocess,as

you’rebeginningtoseeyourcharactercometolife.Inthischapter,wewillgooversome

importantthingstokeepinmindasyou’restartingyourshot,especiallyasitconcerns

cartoony-styleanimation.

SCENEPREP

Beforewesetourfirstkeyframe,wefirstneedtoprepourfileandthinkaboutour

workflow.So,let’stakesomestepsnowtoensurewe’restartingoffontherightfoot.

We’llstartwithreferencing.Whatdoesreferencingyourassetshavetodowithcartoony animation? Absolutely nothing. However, it’s an industry practice, and if you’re not alreadydoingthis,youshould.Referencingiswhenyoubringthecharacterintoyour scenewithoutthatcharacteractuallyresidinginthatfile.Insteadofopeningupacharacter fileandbeginninganimationonthatfile,youstartwithanewfileandreferenceinthe character,maintainingaseparationbetweenthetwofileswhilestillbeingabletowork withthecharacter.Anychangestothecharacterfilewillbeautomaticallyupdatedinyour animationfileeverytimeyouopenit.Oneofthebenefitsofdoingthisisthatitaddsa layerofprotection—meaning,youwon’tbeabletoaccidentallydeleteapartoftherig whenworkinginyouranimationfile.Second,itkeepsyourfilesizesmall,astheonlydata storedinyourfileistheanimationdata,notthecharacterrig.Becausethefilesizeis small,youcaneasilysavemanyiterationsofyourfilewhileyou’reworking,withoutit takingupalotofspaceonyourharddrive.Ihighlyrecommendthatyousavemany iterations,asI’veseenstudentfilesgetcorruptedmoretimesthatIcancount!Sohow doesonereferenceinacharacterrig?Simple:gotoFile>CreateReference.Thedefaults arefine.

doesonereferenceinacharacterrig?Simple:gotoFile>CreateReference.Thedefaults arefine.
3.1Referencing IneverystudioI’veworkedfor,referencingishowassetsarebroughtintoascene.Evencamerascanbereferencedto

3.1Referencing

IneverystudioI’veworkedfor,referencingishowassetsarebroughtintoascene.Evencamerascanbereferencedto

preventtheaccidentaldeletionofthecameraortheeditingofitsanimation.Whenworkingonyourown,besureto

adoptthispracticeasapartofyoursceneprep.

LockYourCamera

Itouchedonthisinthefirstchapter,butit’sworthexpandingupon.Whentumbling

aroundthecharacterinacomputer-animatedscene,it’seasytothinkofyourcharacters

and the world they inhabit in the third dimension. With the recent theatrical push to

producefilmsin3D,itfurtherreinforcesthisidea.Whendoingmorebroad,cartoony-

stylework,it’scriticaltodivorceyourselffromthisnotion.Therenderedimageisatwo-

dimensionalplane.It’sakintoadrawingonapieceofpaper(incidentally,therootsofour

craft).There’snothing3Daboutit.Evenwhenworkingonastereoscopicproduction,

whereyouhavealeftandright“eye”creatingtheillusionofthreedimensions,you’restill

essentiallyworkingwithaflatcanvas,astheslightdifferencesbetweenthetwoimages

arenegligible.

Inordertotakefulladvantageofthisconceptofthinkingin2D,youneedtolockdown

yourrenderablecamera.Inaproduction,thisisalreadydoneforyou.It’saprettyrare thingtoreceiveyourshotfromthelayoutdepartmentwithaneditablecamera.When workingonyourown,itshouldbeoneofthefirstthingsyoudowhenstartingyourshot. Beforekeyingasinglepose,adjustthecameratoeffectivelystagethecharacterwithinthe environment.Then,onceyouhaveapleasingcomposition,lockyourcamera.Asateacher

ofmanystudents,I’veseenittimeandtimeagain,wherethestudentisanimatingin3Das

ifacameradidn’texist.Thismaybeappropriateincertaincontexts,suchasvideogame animation,butiftheendoutputisfilm,you’redoingyourselfadisservicebyworkingin this way. Although it may seem liberating, it can actually have the opposite effect, hamperingyourthinkingandlimitingyourabilitytocomeupwithcreativesolutions.

Lockingyourcamerawillhelpyoutothinkin2D.Granted,you’llstillneedtotumble

aroundthecharacterinordertohaveaccesstoallthecontrolsandtofullymanipulatethe

rig,soit’sagoodideatocreateaworkflowwheretherenderablecameraandperspective

cameraarevisibleatthesametime.Ican’tthinkofasimplerandmorepracticalwayto

helpyourbrainshifttoanewwayofthinkingthantoperformthistask.Lockingthe

cameracouldn’tbeeasier;justdrag-selectthecamerachannelsinthechannelbox,right-

click,andchooseLockSelectedfromthepop-upmenu.

3.2Lockselected

Lockingyourcameraisquickandpainless.Asyouanimate,youmayfindthatthecameraneedstobeadjustedslightly

forbetterstaging.However,that’snotjustificationtokeepitpermanentlyunlocked.Inthosecases,simplyunlockit,

changeit,andlockitagain.

BreakingtheRig

Becausewe’reonlyconcernedwithwhat’sbeingdisplayedthroughasinglelens,itgives

usthefreedomtobreaktherigandcreatesometrulyfantasticimages.NowI’mnot

talkingaboutliterallybreakingtherigtowhereit’snolongerusable(thoughthatcan

happen).I’mtalkingaboutdoingwhateverisnecessarytoachievethedesiredresults.

Extremedeformation,geometrypenetration,off-balanceposes,andbrokenjointsareoften

thenorm.Togiveyouapersonalexample,onDaffy’sRhapsody(2012)Iwasanimatinga

shotwithDaffyDuckdescendingfromabove,towardsthecamera,onarope,twirling aroundinaveryelegant,EstherWilliams-likemanner.However,inanyviewotherthan therenderablecamera,Daffywasanythingbutelegant.Inordertocreateagreatersense ofdepth,asDaffywasdescending,feetfirst,towardthecamera,IhadtoscaleDaffy’sfeet toovertwicetheirnormalsizesotheyappearedmuchlargerintheframethantherestof

hisbody.Tofurtherpushthe3Deffect,Daffy’storsowaselongatedtooverfivetimesits

length to make Daffy’s head and upper body appear smaller in the frame. It looked completelyfineinthecamera,butwewerecheatingbig-time,andanyotherviewwould showjusthowcompletelybrokenDaffywas.Theillusiononlyworkedthroughthatone cameraandbybreakingtherig.

Weneedthefreedomtodowhateverisnecessarytotherigtocreatetheposewe’re

lookingfor.Aslongasitlooksrightthroughtherenderablecamera,itisright!Working

likethismaycausesomelevelofanxietyinsomeartists,butyoumustbeabsolutelybrutal

toyourcharacters,beingwillingtosubjectthemtoanyandallformsofdistortionand

duress.Don’tworry,though.They’llreboundintheend.Theyalwaysdo.

3.3Brokenrig Whenlookingthroughtheperspectivecamera,Mr.Buttonsisclearlybroken.However,heisbrokenforareason—toget

3.3Brokenrig

Whenlookingthroughtheperspectivecamera,Mr.Buttonsisclearlybroken.However,heisbrokenforareason—toget

theexaggeratedposethat’sseenthroughtherenderablecamera.Bewillingtodowhatittakestogettheposeyouwant.

Workflows

Whichworkflowyouuseislargelyapersonalchoice.However,therearesomedistinct

advantages certain workflows can provide, especially when dealing with cartoony

animation.Andspeakingofworkflow,theDisneyveteransevendedicatedoneofthe12

principlesofanimationtoit.NumbersevenonthelistisStraightAheadActionandPose-

to-Pose,whichdescribestwodifferentapproachestodrawingananimatedscene.

WithStraight-AheadAction,asthenameimplies,yousimplystartfromthebeginningand

animatefromthatpointon,movingforwardinasequential,straight-aheadfashion.With

Pose-to-Pose,you’renotlimitedtoworkingsequentially.Youcouldstartwiththefirst

pose,thelastpose,orsomewhereinbetween.Onceyou’veestablishedthoseposes,you

canthenfillinthegaps,creatingbreakdowndrawingsbetweentheactionsandthenthein-

betweens,fillinginallthemissingdrawingstocreatefluidandcohesivemotion.

Withcomputeranimation,thosetwoapproachesarestillused,butbecauseofthegreater

flexibilitythesoftwareprovides,wecanmixandmatchanddiscoverwaysofworkingthat

bettersuitourownpersonalpreferenceorarebettersuitedtothestyleofanimationwe’re

tryingtoachieve.Herearethreecommonworkflowsincomputeranimationandhowthey

relatetocartoonyanimation.

Layered

LayeredanimationhasitsrootsintheStraight-AheadActionapproachinthatyoustart

fromthebeginningofthesceneandmoveforwardsequentially.Theprimarydifference,

however,isthatyou’renotanimatingthewholecharacteratthesametime.Formost

movement,you’dstartwiththerootofthecharacter,themaincontrolthatdrivesthebody,

andanimatethatindependently,creatingthebasemotionforwhichtobuildupon.Inthe

caseofawalkcycle,forexample,you’dstartbymovingtherootofthecharacterforward,

focusingonasingleaxisoftranslation(usuallythez-axis)untilthecharacterleavesthe

screenorcomestoastop.It’salsoimportanttonotethatthetangenttypecommonlyused

withthisapproachisspline.Thisallowsyoutoscrubthroughthetimelineandseethe

movementateveryframe.

Afteryou’veestablishedthecharacter’sforwardmomentum,you’dthenanimatetheup-

and-downmovement,gettingthebounceofthewalkjustright.You’dcontinuetobuild

thewalkcycle,workingoutwardfromtherootofthecharacter,movingupthespine,out

throughthearmsandsoforth,layeringthemotionasyougo.Oneofthebenefitsof

workinginthiswayisthatit’smechanicallysound—meaning,mostactionoriginatesfrom

thehips,sothephysicsoftheanimationfeelsright.Italsotendstocreatebeautiful,fluid

motionthatdoesn’thavethepose-to-posefeel,acommoncriticismofthatapproach.

LayeringwaslargelyusedatPixarintheearlydays,soit’saveryold-schoolcomputer

animationapproach.

animationapproach. 3.4GraphEditor:thelayeredapproach

3.4GraphEditor:thelayeredapproach

Thelayeredapproach,whileproducingananxiety-inducingmessinthegrapheditor,isaverymethodicalandlogical

approachtoanimatingandisespeciallyusefulforcreatingoverlappingactiononthose“floppybits.”

When Brad Bird joined Pixar to helm The Incredibles (2004), with his traditional animationbackground,therewasapushtouseamorepose-basedworkflow,butthereare plentyofanimatorswhostillworkedwithalayeredworkflowatPixarandelsewhere.It wasthedefactostandardforanimatingwhenIfirststartedmytrainingattheturnofthis century.Oneoftheconsofworkinginthiswayisthatit’sdifficultforsomedirectorsto knowhowtheshotisgoingtolookuntilit’slargelyfinished.It’sdifficulttocritique somethingifallyouseeisacharacter,intheT-pose,slidingacrossthescreen.It’salsoan

approachthatsometimesmakeschangesdifficulttoimplement,sincetherearenoclear

posesthatcanprovideawayofsectioningofwhatcanstayandwhatcango.

Layeringisnotascommonlyusedtoday,asmostcomputeranimatorshaveadopteda pose-to-poseworkflow.Intermsofitsuseincartoonier-styleanimation,it’sevenless prevalentbecausesomuchofcartoonyanimationisbasedonstrongposes.Itjustmakes sensetouseaworkflowthat’spose-based.Thatbeingsaid,Istillusethelayeredapproach whenappropriate.OnesceneIworkedonintheLooneyTunesshortfilm,RabidRider

(2010),hadWileE.CoyoteridingonaSegway,beingdraggedbehindaLamborghiniafter

hehadlassoeditwitharope.Sincehismovementwasdependentuponthemovementof

theSegway,IanimatedtheSegwayfirst,layeringinthetranslation,andthenmovedtothe

rotationofthevehicle.IthenshiftedtoWileE.’smovement,layeringhisanimationfrom

hishipsoutward.TherewasalsoatrailingpieceofropethatIanimated,layered-style.

Layeringisgreatfor“floppybits,”thingslikerope,hair,ears,tails,andclothing,where

theoverlappingactionofthoseobjectsarebetterrealizedwhenlayeredontopofthemain

action.Inthosecases,I’llsavethosepartsforlast,aftertheprimarycharacteranimation

hasbeencompleted.I’llalsostartfromthebaseoftheobjectandworksequentially

towardthelastcontrolinthechain.Forexample,ifI’manimatingatail,I’dstartatthe

baseofthetail,payingcloseattentiontothemovementofthehips,makingsuretheaction

isdraggingbehind,andthenmoveontothenextjointinthechain,workingtowardthe

tip.It’sthekindofworkthatIconsidericingonthecake,asmostofthetoughstuffhas

alreadybeenhandledandIcanrelax,putonsomemusic,andenjoytheprocess.Whilethe

layeredworkflowmaynotseemimmediatelyusefulforcartoonyanimation,it’sworth

experimentingwithandcanbe,attimes,theperfectgo-towhenwarranted—especiallyfor

thosefloppybits.

CopiedPairs

Thistechniquehasitsfeetfirmlyplantedinthepose-to-poseapproachtoanimating.The

primarydistinctionisthatyou’reduplicatingeachpose,toholdthatposeforanumberof

framesuntilthenexttransition,thusthetermcopiedpairs.Ifyou’reworkingwithstepped

tangents,thisapproachmaymakelittlesensebecausethenatureofsteppedtangentsisthat

nothingismovinguntilthenextkeyframe.Somostanimatorswhoworkincopiedpairs

useplateautangents.Plateautangentseliminatetheovershootseenwithsplinetangents,

creatingatrulyheldposewhencreatingcopiedpairs.It’sagreatmethodforgettingthe

timingofyourworknaileddownearlyonbecauseyougettoseehowlongtheposeis

goingtobeheldforaswellashowquickthetransitionsarebetweeneachpose.

Therearetwobigpitfallstoavoidwhenworkinginthisway,however.Thefirstisthatit

inherentlycreatesapose-to-poselook,whichcanmaketheanimationappearstilted.Once

youhitapose,it’scompletelystillunlessyouworktoavoidthat.You’llneedtomakesure

you’reeasingintotheholdandaddingoverlaptoyouractionstomakeitlookmore

natural.Asavinggraceisthatcartoonyanimationtendstobeveryposeyanyway,so

there’safairamountofforgivenesshere.Theotherpitfallisthatwhenworkingwithany

tangenttypethatinterpolatesbetweenyourkeys(essentiallyanythingotherthanstepped

tangents),there’satendencytonotgivemuchthoughttocreatingeffectivebreakdowns,

sincethecharacterisalreadymovingbetweentheposes.

We’lltalkaboutbreakdownsinChapter4,butbreakdownsdotwokeythings—definearcs

anddeterminewhatleadsandfollows.Mayastinksatbothofthese.That’syourjob,not Maya’s,andifyou’rewatchingMaya’sinterpolationbetweentheposesasyourepeatedly playtheanimation,themoreyouseeit,thelessobjectiveyoubecomeandmaysimply acceptitasbeing“goodenough.”Ifyouhaven’ttriedcopiedpairs,giveitago,butbe mindful of these pitfalls. It’s a great and effective approach when creating cartoony animation.

and effective approach when creating cartoony animation. 3.5GraphEditor:copiedpairs

3.5GraphEditor:copiedpairs

Copiedpairscreatesacleanandtidygrapheditor,makingeditingitlateronarelativelyeasytask.Thisisespeciallytrue

ifyouneedtoretimeyouranimation,asyoucanclearlyseetheholdsandtransitions.

SteppedTangents

Steppedtangentsisnotexactlytheidealnameforthisworkflow—itis,afterall,just describingthetangenttypeusedforanimationcurves—butitistheone,uniquetangent type that doesn’t interpolate between the keyframes. This workflow is the computer animation equivalent of pose-to-pose traditional animation, where you create a pose, createthenextpose,addsomebreakdownsinbetween,andthenproceedtofillinthe remaininggapswithMaya’shelp.

Thisapproachisthemostpopularworkflow,especiallyasitrelatestocartoonyanimation.

Whyisthat?Probablybecauseithasitsrootsin2D,assteppedtangentscreatetheillusion

thatyou’recreatingindividualdrawingsthatdon’tchangeuntilthenextdrawing.It’salso perfectforcontrolfreaks,likeme,whodon’twanttohandoverthereinstoMayatoo soon.It’salsoaverycleanwayofworking,inthat,typically,everypartofthecharacteris keyed whether it’s moving or not, which creates a very clean and easily editable foundation.Plus,therearenooffsetkeystomuddyupthegrapheditor.

Sowhat’sthecatch?Itsoundslikeit’sallrainbowsandbutterflies,and,forthemostpart,

itis!Granted,I’mrevealingmybiashere,butIdobelieveit’sthebestapproachto

animationwhenworkinginacartoony,broadstyle.However,whenworkinginastepped

style,there’sanaturaltendencytowanttojumpaheadandsplinethecurvestoosoon,the

endresultbeingasoupymess,wheretheanimationsmoothlyeasesinandoutofevery

pose.Sincesteppedtangentsnaturallyproduceahold,assoonasyouswitchtangent

types,yourholdsaregone.Thekeyistoplanforthatandcreatecopiedpairs,oraslow-in

posebeforethefinalpose—we’llgetmoreintothatlateronaswecoverbreakdowns.You

havetoresisttheurgetosplinethecurvestoosoon.Takecontrolandmakesureyou’re

settingenoughkeystopreventsoupiness.

Youdon’tjustwanttosetkeyswilly-nilly,though.Everykeyshouldbepurposeful.Either a storytelling pose, an extreme action, or a breakdown reveals the arcs and overlap throughthetransition.Careshouldbegiventoeverykeyframeyoucreate,makingsure it’snecessaryandwellthoughtout.Thegoalofsteppedtangentsistotakeasmuchcontrol overourworkaspossiblesothatit’snotleftuptoMayatodoitsthing.

EventhoughIamadvocatingtheuseofsteppedtangents,andtheanimatedexamplein

thisbookfollowsthisworkflow,thatdoesn’tnecessarilymeanyoushouldwholeheartedly

embraceityourself.ThebeautyofMayaisthatthere’samyriadofwaystogetthedesired

result.You’vehearditsaidthatit’sthejourneythatmatters,notthedestination.However,

inanimation,it’sallaboutthedestination.Howyougetthereisirrelevant;allthatmatters

istheresultonscreen.Byallmeans,exploredifferentwaysofworking.Chancesarethat

yourownpersonalworkflowwillevolveasyouprogressasananimator,butyoushould

ultimatelystickwithwhatworksforyou.

ultimatelystickwithwhatworksforyou. 3.6GraphEditor:steppedtangents

3.6GraphEditor:steppedtangents

Steppedtangentsareathingofbeauty.Theylooklikeastairwaytoheaveninthegrapheditor.Unfortunately,unlessyou

planonkeyingeveryframe,thosestepswilleventuallyhavetobeturnedintoslopes.Butifyouhaveenoughkeysand

breakdowns,youcanminimizethepainwhenmakingthattransition.

AWordonGimbalLock

Even though this book stresses the importance of thinking like a 2D animator and adopting practices that simulate a 2D workflow, we can’t ignore the fact that we’re workinginathree-dimensional,mathematicalenvironment.Sometimesthatmathcanget us into trouble, and the prime example of this is gimbal lock. Without getting too technical,gimballockhappenswhentherotationalaxesofacontrolleralignand“lock,” preventingfullandfreerotation.We’lltalkaboutwaystoaddressandfixthiswhen discussingthedifferentpartsoftheanimationprocessinthischapterandtheonesthat follow.Butfornow,it’simportanttopointoutthatwhicheverworkflowyouchoose,be carefulwhenrotatingpartsofthecharacter—especiallythosepartsthatusuallyhavea highdegreeofrotation,suchasthemainbodycontrol,head,arms,wrists,andankles.If youwanttotrytopreventitfromtheget-go,double-clickontherotatetoolandchoose Gimbalfromthetoolsettings.Thisshowsyouexactlywhateachrotationalchannelis doingandcangoalongwaytowardreducinggimballockinyouranimation.

3.7Gimbalmode I’mahugefanofusinglocalrotationsbecauseit’sjusteasiertoposethingsoutthatway.Butit’salsotheleadingcause

3.7Gimbalmode

I’mahugefanofusinglocalrotationsbecauseit’sjusteasiertoposethingsoutthatway.Butit’salsotheleadingcause

ofgimballock.ThisimageillustrateshowwecanuseGimbalmodetoseewhengimballockishappening.TheX

rotationalaxisandtheZrotationalaxisarealmostinalignment,whichcancauseproblemsdownthelinewhenwe

splineourtangents.

TIP

CREATEASELECT-ALLBUTTON

This is pretty basic stuff, but I was always surprised to see advanced computer animation students working without a select-all button for their character. When workingposetoposewithsteppedtangents,it’simportanttomakesurethatforevery poseyoucreate,you’rekeyingeverythingonthecharacter.First,itkeepsthingsnice and tidy in the Graph Editor. More importantly, it ensures that every part of the characterislockeddownsothatwhenyougospline,therearen’tpartsofthecharacter swimmingaround,withamindoftheirownbecausetheyweren’tkeyed.

Someanimationrigscomewithagraphicaluserinterface(GUI)thatoftenincludesa

buttonforselectingeverycontrolonthecharacter—whichisgreat.Butforthoserigs

thatdon’t,it’sgoodpracticetocreateyourown.Sohowdoyoudothis?Startby

openinguptheScriptEditorbygoingtoWindow>GeneralEditors>ScriptEditor,or

youcanclickontheScriptEditoriconinthelowerrightcornerofMaya.Withthe

ScriptEditoropen,selectallthecontrolsofthecharacterandlookforalinetoappearin

theScriptEditor’shistory(upperpanel)thatstartswith“select.”Selectthislineoftext

andleft-mouse-buttondragittoaplaceinyourshelf.Ifpromptedwiththescripttype,

chooseMEL.Justbecarefulthatyou’reselectingonlythecharactercontrolsandnot

jointsorthecharactergeometry,asthatcaninadvertentlybreaktherigwhenkeyed.

3.8Selectall Here’stheoutputfromMaya’sScriptEditorwhenIselectallthecontrolsofthecharacter.Tomakeabuttonfrom

3.8Selectall

Here’stheoutputfromMaya’sScriptEditorwhenIselectallthecontrolsofthecharacter.Tomakeabuttonfrom

this,selectthetext,andthenleft-mouse-buttondragittoyourshelf.

DESIGNINGTHEPOSE

Posesarethefoundationofanimatedstorytelling.Eventhoughmuchofthefocusin

animationisonmotionandcreatingmovementthat’sappealingandbelievable,it’sthe

pose,thosebriefmomentsofquiet,wherethestoryistold.AsHamLuske,directorof

manyclassicDisneyfilms,hassaid:

Your animation is only as good as your poses. You can have good timing, good overlappingaction,andgoodfollowthrough—butifyourposesarenotstrongandto thepoint(tellingthestory)youdonothavegoodanimation.

—QuotedinEricLarson,Pose-to-PoseandStraight-AheadAnimation,1983

Sinceaposeisavisualrepresentationofanideaorfeeling,itshouldbedesignedinaway

tosupportthatideaorfeeling.Iknowthatmaysoundabitesoteric,buttherearesome

practicalthingsyoucando,sometechniquesyoucanapply,thatwillhelpyoucreateposes

thatarebothappealingandcommunicative.

Silhouette

AswetouchedoninChapter1,iftherearenolightsinyourscene,youcanputyour

characterinsilhouettebypressingthe7key.Again,youmayhavetohidethesettosee

this.Itcompletelyreducesyourposetoagraphicshape.Thisisaveryusefulcheat

becauseitallowsyoutoseeiftheposewillreadatadistanceoraquickglance.Many

times,aposewillonlybeheldforafractionofasecond,soit’simportanttomakesure

thatwhatyou’retryingtosaycomesthroughclearly.Onecaveatisthatthere’satendency

whenusingthistechniquetojumptotheconclusionthatit’sallaboutmakingthepose

largerthanlife,toexaggeratetotheextreme,sothateverylimbofthecharacterisoutin

openspace.Strivingforclarityisindeedthegoal,butitshouldn’tbesacrificedatthe

expenseofsincerity.

Togiveyouanexampleofhowyoucanapplyworkinginsilhouettebutstillmaintaina truthful moment, let’s say we’re observing a character from across the street. He is walkingalongthesidewalkandtipshishattoanattractivepasserbywhowalksbetween thecharacterandtheviewer.Whenhetipshishat,ifyouusethearmthat’sclosesttothe camera,chancesarethatarmisnotonlygoingtobecrossinghisface(fromthecamera’s pointofview),it’salsogoingtobelargelylostinthesilhouette.Byusinghisotherarm it’dbemucheasiertostagetheposesothatthearmisoutinsilhouette.Noticethatwe’re notchangingtheamountofexaggerationinthepose,makingitgranderthanitneedsto be,we’resimplystagingitinawaythatoffersabettersilhouetteforthesakeofclarity.

OneexerciseIgavemystudentswastocreateashortanimation,entirelyinsilhouette,to

seeifitwouldread.Plus,theycouldn’tuseanyaudioordialoguetohelpselltheiridea.It

reallycementedtheimportanceofsilhouette.It’safunchallenge,buttheuseofsilhouette

shouldn’tjustberelegatedtoanexperimentalassignment.Regularlycheckyourposesin

silhouettetoseeifthey’rereadingandifthere’sabetterwaytoposethecharacter.

3.9 Rio ,2011 Rafaelthetoucanwithhiswingsextendedintoopenspaceisperfectlysilhouetted,showinghisopennessandgregarious

3.9Rio,2011

Rafaelthetoucanwithhiswingsextendedintoopenspaceisperfectlysilhouetted,showinghisopennessandgregarious

personality.EventhoughBlu’swingsaretuckedin,hisprofileinsilhouetterevealsnotonlyastronggraphic

representationofaparrot-likeform,butalso,withhisheadpulledback,showshisnervousness—apersonalitytraitwe

seethroughoutthefilm.

StraightagainstCurve

Straightagainstcurveisadesignprinciplethatincorporatescontrastbyavoidingperfect symmetryinthepartsofthebody.Takeanarm,forinstance.Ifeachsectionofthearmis curved outward, it’s going to look like linked sausages and not be very appealing. Likewise,havingeachsectionperfectlystraightcreatesamechanicalandstifflook.By havingonesideofthearmstraightandtheothersidecurved,there’sanicecontrastandit createsamuchmoreappealingshape.

Applyingacombinationofstraightsagainstcurvesthroughouttheposecreatesabeautiful

balance.Practicallyspeaking,howdoesoneachievethis?Granted,muchofthisdepends

uponthedesignofthecharacterandtheflexibilityoftherig.Forexample,wecanget

somemileageoutoftheuseofbendycontrols.Mostmodernrigsincludecontrolsinthe

middlesectionofanarmorlegsegmentthatgivetheanimatorcontrolovertheshapeof

thatarea,allowingyoutobendorbowthatsection.Addingtheslightestbendtothearm

orlegcancreateastraightagainstacurveandgoalongwaytowardaddingappeal.There

isthetendencywithstudentanimatorstopushthesetoofar,andthatcancreateavery

rubber-hoselook,impactingtheintegrityoftheanatomyofthecharacter.Thatmaybe

desirableinsituationswherethedesignofthecharacterorthestyleofanimationsupports

that,butwithmostanimation,evenbroad,cartoonyanimation,usethesecontrolssensibly,

asameanstosweetenthepose.

3.10 DespicableMe ,2010

3.10DespicableMe,2010

Gru’sbeautifullysilhouettedposeisalsoagreatstudyinstraightagainstcurveanditssubtleusetoaddappealtothe

pose.

SimpleagainstComplex

Similartotheideaofcontrastingshapeswithinthebodyofacharacterusingstraight

againstcurve,“simpleagainstcomplex”describestheouteredgeofashapeorgroupof

shapes.Ifyourcharacterisproudlypoised,chestout,headandarmsback,theyarelikely

tohaveanicesimplecurvethatdescribestheoverallshapeofthefrontoftheirbody.The

oppositesideofthecharacterwillhavemoredetailandbemorecomplexasthearms,

head,andothershapescomprisethebacksideofthecharacter.

Theaforementionedproudposeisastationaryexampleofthisidea;however,moreoften

thannotweseetheideaofsimpleagainstcomplexplayedoutmoreclearlywhenthe

characterisinmotion.Wheninmotion,theleadingedgeofacharacterislikelytobea

cleanerandsimplerlineduetothefactthatmanyofthebodypartswillbedragging

behind,creatingamorecomplicatedtrailingedge.Whetherthecharacterisinmotionor

completelystill,applyingthisprincipleofdesign,whereappropriate,canplusthepose,

makingitmoreappealing.

makingitmoreappealing. 3.11 Madagascar3:Europe’sMostWanted ,2012

3.11Madagascar3:Europe’sMostWanted,2012

AcontinuouslineofactioncanbeclearlyseenrunningthroughbothMartyandGia.Alsotakenoteofthesimpleleading

edgerunningalongthefrontofthecharacters,contrastingwiththemorecomplexshapestrailingbehind.

LineofAction

Thelineofactionistheinvisiblelinethatrunsthroughthecharacter,givingitanoverall feeling of movement and connectedness. So much can be communicated with just a simpleline.Forinstance,let’sstartwithastraightline.Ifthelineofactionisperfectly vertical,itcanmakethecharacterappearrigidandimmovable.However,ifthatcharacter isbeinglaunchedintospace,there’sawholelotofmovementbutatthesametime,the

bodycanbeperfectlyrigid.Thesamegoesforahorizontalline.Thecharactercouldeither

bemovingreallyfast,asifshotfromacannon,orcompletelystill,lyingproneonthe

floor—yetrigidinbothextremes.Adiagonalline,bycontrast,usuallyimpliesmotion,as

it’sinherentlyunstable,leaning,givingasenseofbeingoffbalance.Andthat’sallfrom

justasimplestraightline.Formostposes,however,thelineofactionwillbecurvilinear,

revealingpointsofrelaxationandtensionindifferentpartsofthebody.Ingeneral,you’ll

wantthelineofactiontobesimple,usuallyinaCorSshape,andyou’llwanttoavoid

sharpchangesindirection,asthatinterruptstheflowoftheline,makingtheposefeel

disjointed.

Afteryou’veestablishedthelineofaction,creatinganexaggeratedposebecomesaneasy

task,asyoucansimplymakethelinemoreextremebypushingthearcoftheline.

Conversely,youcandialitbacktomaketheposemoresubtleandcontained.Iwill

typicallypushtheposemuchfurtherthannecessary,andIoftenfindmyselfhavingtotone

thingsdownquiteabit.ThemainreasonIdothisisthatifIcanclearlyseethelineof

action,itbecomesmucheasiertoconstructtheposearoundthat,creatingthatsenseof

movementandconnectednessthroughthepose.IfIhavetomakechanges,Ifinditeasier

topulltheposebackthantohavetopushitafterward.Inpractice,sincethelineofaction

isthefoundationofthepose,I’llstartwiththemainbodycontrolandhaveitmatchthat

lineofactionasmuchaspossible.Then,I’llworkoutwardfromthere,creatingthecurve

ofthespineandthetiltofthehead,andcontinuetobuildontopofthat.

ofthespineandthetiltofthehead,andcontinuetobuildontopofthat. 3.12 DespicableMe ,2010

3.12DespicableMe,2010

AnScurvelineofactioncanbeseenrunningthroughVector,Gru’snemesis,ashereclinesinhislair.

Head,Shoulders,Knees,andToes

Intheprevioussections,wediscussedsomeoveralldesignprinciplestoconsiderwhen

creatingyourposes.We’llnowgointosomespecificsastohowtoposethedifferentparts

ofthebody.

TheSpine

Sincethelineofactionrunsthroughand,toalargedegree,representsthecurveofthe spine,youcanbasetherotationofthehipsandtorsoonthissameline,byrotatingthem perpendiculartothisline.Becauseofthis,thetorsoandthehipsareusuallyatoddswith eachother,rotatedinoppositedirections.Forinstance,ifyourhipsaretiltedupwiththe left side rotated forward, the torso is usually tilted down and the left side rotated backward.Ifyoucanfindtherotationofone,youcaneasilydeterminetherotationofthe other. It’s as easy as that! The Italians came up with a fancy word to describe this:

contrapposto.Contrappostosimplymeans“counterpose.”

Sodothehipsandtorsoalwayscountereachother?Forthemostpart,theydo.Thereare,

ofcourse,exceptionstothisgeneralrule.IfyourspineisforminganScurveinsteadofthe

morecommonCcurve,theangleofthetorsoandhipsaremorelikelytomatcheachother.

Andthisservesasareminderthatwithanytechnique,youdon’twanttoapplyitblindly.

You’renotamindlessbuttonmasher—you’reanartist—souseyourever-developingeye

tomakegoodchoices.

tomakegoodchoices. 3.13 David ,MichelangeloBuonarroti,1501–1504

3.13David,MichelangeloBuonarroti,1501–1504

ThestatueofDavidisawonderfulexampleofcontrapposto,wherethehipsandtorsoarerotatedinoppositedirections,

addingasenseofweighttothepose.

TheHead

Theheadcanbeinalignmentwiththelineofactionoritcanoftencounterit,toaddabit ofcontrastandbalancetothepose.Mostoftherotationoftheheadiswherethebaseof theheadmeetsthetopoftheneck,notatthebaseoftheneck.Atthebaseoftheneck, mostofthemovementisconstrainedtoaforward/backwardmovement.Feelfreetorotate your own head and neck around and discover the range of movement. In cartoony animation,wedohavethefreedomtobreakthings,butthereshouldbesomerespectfor theanatomytogroundourcharactersinreality.It’sagoodthingtobemindfulofthe rangeofmotionthatourownbodiesarecapableof.Thisespeciallyholdstrueinourpose test,wherewe’reholdingonapose.Ifthecharacterlooksbrokeninaheldpose,that’sa bitofaproblem,astheaudienceisgoingtonotice.It’sinthebreakdownswherewecan

breaktheanatomy,andthat’sanotherstory,onewe’llgettoinChapter4.

3.14 HortonHearsaWho! ,2008

3.14HortonHearsaWho!,2008

Inthisstill,MayorNedMcDodd’sheadistiltedbackandslightlytooneside,contrastingtheangleofhistorso.Notice,

too,howalmostallofthisrotationishappeningatthebaseofthehead.

TheShoulders

Theshouldersareoftenignored,buttheyshouldn’tbe.Theshouldersaretheeyebrowsof thebody.Rereadthatlastsentenceagainandstareoffintothedistance,contemplatingthe meaningandsignificanceofthatstatement.IwishIcouldgivepropercredittowhoever coinedthisbecauseIthinkit’sabsolutelybrilliant.Howtheshouldersareposedcan communicatesomuchaboutwhatthecharacterisfeeling.Shoulderscanshowwhethera characterisrelaxedortense.Theycanshowwhenacharacterisfeelinguncertain,asina shrugging motion, or if a character is feeling apprehensive and shy. They can communicateragewhenthey’resharplyraised—ornonchalanceorcomplacencywhen they’redrooped.Asyoucansee,they’reanimportantconsiderationwhencreatingyour poses.Theyusuallyworktogether,insyncwithoneanother,andtheprimarymotionisup anddown.Theycanmoveforwardorbackward,butthat’stypicallyonlyusedwhenthe armsareangledsharplyinthesamedirection,toavoidpinchingatthebaseofthearm. Don’tignoretheshoulders.Remember,theshouldersaretheeyebrowsofthebody.

3.15 KungFuPanda ,2008 Allthecharactersinthisimagefrom KungFuPanda

3.15KungFuPanda,2008

AllthecharactersinthisimagefromKungFuPandahavetheirshouldersraisedtoshowtheiralertness—exceptthe

snakeforobvious,anatomicalreasons.Noticehowtheshouldersareworkingtogetherintandemwitheachother,which

isusuallythecase.

ArmsandLegs

Forthearmsandlegs,chancesarethelineofactioniscarriedthroughoneorbothof

them,soit’sanobrainerhowtoposethem.Insituationswherethat’snotthecase,what’s

beenextremelyhelpfultomeistheconceptofflow,somethingIlearnedinfiguredrawing

classes.Whenwethinkofflow,wenaturallythinkofwater.Andwhenwaterisflowing,it

likestocontinuedownthepathofleastresistance.Howthattranslatesintoposingisthat

you’llwanttoavoidadisjointedlookwhenposingthelimbs.Thatdoesn’tmeanthatyou

can’thaveasharpchangeindirection.Theelbowsandkneesarejointsthatarefrequently

angledsharply.Thesamethingholdstruewithwater,whereitcanturnsharplybasedon

itsenvironment.However,there’sresistancethere.Asharpanglecreatestensionandthat

canbedesiredandperfectlyappropriateattimes.It’smoreofagestaltapproach,where

thesumofthepartsshouldbeharmoniousandinsupportofeachother.Workingthisway

producesafeelingofconnectedness,wherethebodypartsareallworkingtogether.

Thisideaisclearlydemonstratedintheposesofballetdancers.Ifthisisalltootouchy-

feely,gobacktothemoremasculineideaofalineofaction!Therecanbemorethanone lineofaction.Forinstance,youcanhavealineofactionthatgoesthroughbotharms.It’s thesameidea, wherethere’saflowthatcourses throughthebody withalltheparts connectedandworkingtogether,inpeace,love,andharmony.

3.16 HotelTransylvania ,2012

3.16HotelTransylvania,2012

Draculastrikesaposethatincorporatesavarietyofgooddesignchoicesthatcreateappeal.Noticethearmsandtheline

ofactionthatrunsthroughbothofthem,creatingafeelingofconnectednessandflow.

WristsandAnkles

Likethearmsandlegs,theconceptofflowcanbeappliedhereaswell,especiallywhen

dealingwithaposethathasamorelooseandrelaxedfeel.Insituationswhereyouwantto

counterthatflow,addingtensionorcontrast,mymainsuggestionwouldbetorespectthe

anatomyofthecharactertoavoidabrokenlookandfeel.

Examineyourownwrist,forexample.Wecanrotateourwristsconsiderablyalongthe

sameaxisastheforearmandwecanalsotiltourwristsupanddowntoaround90degrees.

Butwhenwetiltthewristsidetoside,mostofusmaxoutataround30degreeseither

way.Anythingmuchmorethanthatcangiveabrokenlook.Thesamegoesforankles. Lookatyourownanklestoexaminetherangeofmotion.Iseebrokenanklesquite frequentlyinstudentwork,especiallywhenacharacteriscrouchingdownandthefeetare

flatonthegroundwiththeankleshyperextendedwellpast90degrees,thephysicallimit

weseeinmostpeople.Inthosecases,theballofthefootshouldberotatedtohelpbearthe

weight.

3.17Brokenwristsandankles Hereweseesomeexamplesofbrokenwristsandankles.Weshouldrespecttheanatomywhenposingoutthecharacter.

3.17Brokenwristsandankles

Hereweseesomeexamplesofbrokenwristsandankles.Weshouldrespecttheanatomywhenposingoutthecharacter.

Thatbeingsaid,duringquicktransitionsandfastaction,allbetsareoff.

FingersandToes

Last,butcertainlynotleast,wegettothefingersandtoes.Fortheloveofhumanity,avoid

atallcostsPing-Pongpaddlehands.What’sthis?It’sthedefaultposeforahandwherethe

fingersarestraightout,resemblingaPing-Pongpaddle.Iseethisallthetimeinstudent

workandit’smaddening!Takeamomentandlookaroundyou.Ifnooneisaround,look

atyourownhands.Noticeanything?They’reneverinabadpose.Handsalwayslook

awesomeinreallife.Always.There’susuallyanicegentlecurvetothebendofthe

fingers.Andthefingersareseldomallgroupedtogether,bentthesameamount.Usually

there’satapering-offeffectwheretheforefingeristhestraightestofthebunchandthe

pinkyisthemostcurved.

Handsareveryimportant.They’resuperexpressiveandcommunicatealotabouthowthe

personisfeeling,butthey’resooftenignoredinanimationandtreatedassecondary

citizens.Ithinkpartofthisisbecausethey’reratherdifficultandtimeconsumingtopose.

Igetthis.Thereareusuallymorecontrolsinthehandsthanareintherestofthebody,so

ittakesawhiletoposethem.Seeingashowtheposetestshouldbeexecutedrather

quickly,thehandstendtobeleftaloneuntilafteraninitialbuy-offfromthedirector.

However,attheveryleast,graballthefingercontrolsandaddagentle,relaxedcurveto

thefingerstoavoidPing-Pongpaddlehands.

thefingerstoavoidPing-Pongpaddlehands. 3.18 HotelTransylvania ,2012

3.18HotelTransylvania,2012

QuasimodoWilson’slefthandiswonderfullyexpressive,ifnotabitcontortedinthisstill.Contrastthatwiththe

eleganceofDracula’sfingersonJonathan’sshoulders.

TheFace

Thisbookisprimarilyconcernedwithpantomimeactingandbodyaction,sowewon’tbe

goingintofacialperformanceandlip-sync.However,it’sworthmentioningitinregardto

cartoonyanimation.Alotoffacialanimationiscreatedusingthelayeredapproach—

wheretheeyesareanimatedfirst,thenthebrows,thenthejawopen/close,thenthemouth

corners,andsoon.Thismakessense,anditishowIusuallyapproachfacialanimation.

However,there’ssomethingtobesaidaboutusingapose-basedapproach,especially

whenitcomestotheprincipleofsquashandstretch.Whenthebrowsarefurrowedand

eyessquinted,creatingasquashedappearanceinthetophalfoftheface,itmakesgood

sensetocompressthelowerhalfofthefaceaswell,raisingthejaw,tighteningthelips,

andpushingoutthecheekstocreateafacethat’ssquashedasawhole.Thisgivesyou

someplacetogo—meaning,youcanthentransitionintosurprised,raisedbrows,jaw

droppedlook,sharplycontrastingthepriorpose.That’saratherextremeexample,butyou

canuseamuchmoresubtleapproachwhendealingwithjustdialogue.Themorbsound,

forexample,isagreatonetoconsidersquashingthewholefaceon,toamuchsmaller

degree.Usuallythefollowingsoundwillallowyoutostretchtheface,againsubtly,to

givethefacialanimationafleshierfeeloverall.

3.19 CloudywithaChanceofMeatballs2 ,2013

3.19CloudywithaChanceofMeatballs2,2013

Withtheexceptionofthestrawberryandcameraman,thefacesinthisimagearesubtlystretched,addingtothe

characters’senseofaweatwhatthey’reseeing.

APRINCIPLEDANIMATION

We’llnowtakeabrieflookattheprinciplesofanimationthatspecificallypertainto

cartoonyanimationandtalkabouthowtheycanbeapplied.

Anticipation

Theprimarydefinitionofanticipationisthatyou’recommunicatingtotheaudiencewhat’s

goingtohappennext.Anticipationisusuallymanifestedinasmallermovementinthe

oppositedirectionbeforethemainmovement—likeaweightshiftovertheleftlegbefore

takingastepwiththeright.However,inthecaseofanangrybull,itcouldbehispawing

thegroundbeforehechargeshorns-firsttowardatauntingtroubadour.Inboththesecases,

theintentofthecharacterisdisplayed,wheretheformerdealsmorewiththephysical

movementandthelatterdealsmorewiththethoughtprocess.

When it comes to cartoony animation, we’re mostly concerned with the physical movementthatprecedesthemainaction.Thiscanbebrokendownintothreedifferent aspects:time,magnitude,andamount.Withregardtotime,generallyspeaking,thefaster themainmovementis,thelongeryou’llwanttoanticipate.Thinkofitintermsofbuilding upenergy.Likeanarrowthat’spulledbackinabow,thelongerthecharacteriswoundup, thequickerweexpecthimtomoveafterward.Togotoanextreme,youcanevenhavethe characterdisappearfromthescreenentirely,butgivetheimpressionthathelaunchedoff inacertaindirection,ifyouanticipatelongenoughintheoppositedirection.Youcan’t justhavethemdisappearfromthescreen—you’llusuallywanttohavesomemotionlines ordry-brushtocreateablurredeffect.We’llgooverthosekindsoftechniquesinChapter

6.

Whenthinkingabouthowbroadtheanticipationorthemagnitudeofthemoveshouldbe,

itfollowsthesamegeneralrulethatthemagnitudeofmovementfortheanticipation

shouldbeappropriatelymatchedtothemagnitudeofthemainmovement.However,there

areexceptionstoanygenerality,andyoucanhavealotoffunplayingwiththemagnitude

ofananticipation.Forinstance,ifyouhaveacharacterwildlyanticipatearunbutthen

startoffatacrawlingpace,comedycancomefrombreakingthatexpectation.

Lastly,wegettotheamountofanticipationtouse.Canyouanticipateananticipation,for

instance?Yes,youcan!Ifacharacterisgoingtojumpupward,youcouldhavehimrisea

littleontheballsofhisfeetbeforethemainanticipationofcrouchingdown.Youcaneven

anticipateananticipationofananticipationtoananticipation.Althoughmostmoveswill

haveonlyoneortwoanticipations,youcanhavealotoffunbyplayingaroundwithhow

manytouse.Allthatbeingsaid,anotherthingtoconsideristhatnoteverymoveneedsan

anticipation.Ifyoumindlesslyapplyananticipationtoeverymove,youranimationwill

quicklybecomeformulaicanduninteresting.Aheadturn,forexample,doesn’talways

havetohaveananticipation.Asimpleslow-outandslow-inwillsometimessuffice.

AcommonformulaIseeinstudentworkformostmovesistoanticipateintheopposite direction,dropthehipsduringthebreakdown,overshootthefinalpose,andthensettle. This formula gets repeated for every move and creates a predictable and boring performance.Thinkbeforeyouanticipateandbeinventive.Alwaysaskyourselfhowfast (time),howmuch(magnitude),andhowmany(amount)withregardtoanticipations,and you’llbebetterequippedtodeliverentertainingchoices.

3.20 CloudywithaChanceofMeatballs ,2009

3.20CloudywithaChanceofMeatballs,2009

MayorShelbourne’sarmisextendedoutandhisheadistiltedbackinanticipationofdowningallthreeburgersinone

bite.

Exaggeration

Exaggerationisoneofthehallmarksthatseparatesanimationfromliveaction.Asan animator,ourcallingistomaketheunbelievablebelievable,andexaggerationisoneof thewayswecandothis.Whenwethinkofexaggeration,wetendtothinkthatitmeansto make things bigger and broader. This is especially true in cartoony animation where charactersthatareexcitedbywhatthey’reseeingcanhavetheireyeballsliterallypopout oftheirheads.Thisunderstandingisplainenough.Butexaggerationcanalsomeanthe opposite,whereinsteadofgoingtoanextremepushedpose,wecanmakethecharacter completelystillandwithjustaneyedart,getmuchmoremileageoutofthegag.Thinkof itthisway:ifeverythingisimportant,thennothingisimportant.Likewise,ifeverythingis exaggerated,thennothingisexaggerated.Weshouldstriveforadegreeofcontrastsothat thoseheightenedmomentshavesignificance.

Sohowdoyouexaggerateapose?Ifyou’regoingforbig,asImentionedearlierinthe chapter,findingthelineofactioniskey.Ifyoucanseeit,youcanpushit.Befearlesswith your posing, and see just how far you can push things. On the opposite end of the exaggerationspectrum,experimentwithjusthowlittleyoucanmovethingstoseeifthat isabetterchoice.Remember,noteverythingshouldbegrand,ascontrastiswhatmakes thingsinteresting.Moreimportantly,keepinmindthatexaggerationshouldalwaysbe motivatedbythecharacterand/orstory.Exaggeratingforthesakeofexaggerationcan leadtoasoullessdisplayofone’sskill.Alwaysrememberyourworkisinserviceofthe storyand,ultimately,theaudience.

3.21 HotelTransylvania ,2012

3.21HotelTransylvania,2012

Inthisframeweseeanicecontrastbetweenanexaggeratedlybroadposeonthesuitofarmorandanexaggeratedly

containedposewithDracula.

SquashandStretch

Nothingsayscartoonyactionlikesquashandstretch.Andinthelandofcartoons,aslong

asthecharacterdesignsupportsit,wecansquashandstretchtoourhearts’content.Ona

technicalnote,themainlimitationIseewithcomputeranimationiswhentherigisnot

designedtosquashandstretch.Recentriggingtechniqueshaveopenedupthepossibility

toincorporateit,andit’sonlygoingtogetbetterasthedemandforflexiblerigsincreases.

Whenapplyingsquashandstretch,it’simportanttonotethatweusuallydon’twantto

holdtheposeonanextremesquashorstretch.Theverynatureofsquashandstretchis

thatthereareforcesatplay,causingthecharactertodeform.Thinkofabouncingball.It

stretchesasitnearstheground,goingathighspeed.Velocityandfrictioncauseittoform

anelongatedshape.Uponimpact,thiscausesthepentupenergytobedisplacedlaterally,

asitcannolongertravelinthedownwarddirection.Inboththosecases,theballisonly

squashedorstretchedforjustafewframes—notenoughforthehumaneyetotakeinthe

image.It’smorefeltthanseen.Andagain,inthatexample,it’salsoimportanttonotethat

theballshouldmaintainvolume,thatwhenit’sstretched,theballwillgetskinnieraround

themiddlesectionandlikewise,whensquashed,willbulgeoutastheshapebecomes

morecompressed.Mostrigswillaccountforthisautomatically.However,it’salwaysnice

tohavethefreedomtocontroltheamountofsquashandstretchmanually,andmore

advancedrigswillsupportthis.

Theoneimportantexceptiontomaintainingvolumeiswhencreatingasmearframe.In that case, volume is not maintained, as the character is smeared across the frame, simulating the motion blur inherent in live-action filmmaking. We’ll dive into smear

framesingreaterdetailinChapter6,asit’sanimportantandspecifictypeofstretching.

Sowhencreatingyourposetest,ifit’sastaticposeandnotanextremeanticipationorfast

action, apply squash and stretch subtly. You don’t want to make the character look distortedinthosemomentswheretherearenoextremeforcesworkingonthem.However, whencreatingthosefastactionsandhardimpacts,makeliberaluseofthiswonderful principleofanimation.It’llgiveyourcharacterafleshy,livelyfeelandgreatlyenhance thecartooninessoftheanimation.

thecartooninessoftheanimation. 3.22Squashed

3.22Squashed

Recentadvancesinriggingaregivingcomputeranimatorsgreatercontroloversquashandstretch,somethingthe2D

guyshavehadfromtheverybeginning.

Timing(andSpacing)

Spacing isn’t one of the 12 principles of animation, though its importance is often overlooked.Ididn’tevenhearaboutspacinguntilIwasacoupleofyearsintotheindustry, andthiswasafterfouryearsofanimationschool!Thismayhavebeenbecauseatthattime traditional animation concepts were just starting to infiltrate my computer animation workflow.SowhyamItalkingaboutspacinginasectiondevotedtotiming?Because timing and spacing are closely linked. They’re not the same thing, however, and the distinctionbetweenthetwocanbeconfusingatfirst.Simplyput,timingishowmany framesittakesforsomethingtomove,andspacingistheamountofdistancetraveled betweenthoseframes.Idoubtthatdidmuchtoclearupanyconfusion,soit’sprobably

morehelpfultolookattheillustration3.22below.Timingforcartoonyanimationis

generallyquickerthanmorenaturalisticanimation.TexAveryandBobClampett,two

earlyWarnerBros.directors,clearlydistinguishedthemselvesfromthemoresoftslow-in

andslow-outapproachcommoninDisneyfilmsbyhavingtheircharacterszipacrossthe

screen—sometimesinjustaframeortwo.Althoughthisbroadgeneralizationholdstruein

themoreextremeexamples,cartoony“timing”isequallyaresultofhowyouadjustthe

spacing.

Forinstance,intheanimatedexamplewe’relookingatinthisbook,Mr.Buttonsdoesa quicktake,areactiontowhatheseeswhenthedoorisopened.Intermsoftiming,after

theanticipation,therewilllikelybea16-framejumpintotheair.IfIweretoanimatein

andoutofthoseextremeswithagentleslow-outandslow-in,itprobablywouldn’tlook verycartoonyatall.However,bychangingthespacingtowherethere’safast-outofthe anticipation,withbroadspacingthatthenslows-intightlyintothejumppose,I’vecreated amuchmorecartoonyfeelbyadjustingthespacing.Thetimingisthesame—it’sthe spacing that makes the difference. We’ll dive more into spacing when we talk about breakdowns,butfornow,asyoustartcreatingyourposesfortheposetest,don’tworry toomuchaboutthetimingandwhetherornotit’scartoonyenough.Oneofcomputer animation’sstrengthsisthatwecanchangethetimingveryeasilybydraggingthekeys aroundthetimeline.Withoutfail,aswestartaddinginthebreakdowns,ourkeyframes willcontinuallybeshiftedarounduntilwefindtherighttiminginbetweentheactions.

3.23Spacing

3.23Spacing

Ifyoulookcarefullyatthesetwoexamples,you’llnoticethatbothoftheballshavetheexactsametiming.Bysimply

adjustingthespacing,youcancompletelychangethefeelofthemotion,makingitcartoonier.

INTERVIEW

MATTWILLIAMES

MattWilliamesisatraditionalanimatorwhohasworkedonfeaturefilmsforWarner Bros.,Disney,andDreamWorks.Healsoanimatedontheshortfilm,AdamandDog

(2011),whichwasnominatedforanOscarandwonanAnnieawardforBestAnimated

ShortSubject.HerecentlystartedanimatinginCG,soIspokewithMatttogethis

thoughtsoncharacteranimationandabouthisforayintocomputeranimation.

Howdoyouapproachanimatingacharacterforthefirsttime?Whatdoyoudoto

getintothecharacter’shead?

Forme,itusuallystartswiththedirector.Ifthedirectorhasareallystrongvisionof

whattheywant,I’mjusttryingtogetintothatheadspaceandthatworld.SoIfeellike

that’sthekeytounlockingeverythingintermsofyoursuccessofanimatingacharacter.

Withadirectorthatdoesn’tseemtohaveaveryclearvision,insomeways,Ikindof

likeit,becauseitmeansIgettomakeupmyownmindonthecharacter,getafeelfor

toneofthefilm,andusinglotsandlotsofreference.Butoverall,I’mtryingtogetinon

thegroundfloorofunderstandingwhatthedirectorwants,seehowthecharacterfitsin

contexttothestory,andthenmakingchoicesfromthere,fromanactingstandpoint.

Onceyougetallthatstuffsettled,whichtakesafewshots,thingsstarttofallinline.

What’syourplanningprocess?Doyoudothumbnails,videoreference,orsome otherprocess? Yeah, that’s a good question. I know the answer I’m supposed to give is that I thumbnail,scrupulously,butIreallydon’tthumbnailawholelot.Iknow,forme,it reallyruinsthatsenseofspontaneitythatIwanttosaveforwhenI’manimating.And that’sthethingthatalwaysamazesmeaboutpeoplethatdothumbnailsallthetime.The onesthatdoitandtheirworkstillfeelsspontaneous—I’malwaysimpressedbythat.

Havingsaidthat,Idoplaninmyhead.I’moneoftheseguysthathastoseeitreally

clearly,youknow?IfIdon’tseeit,Ican’tdraw.I’mnotlikeaGlenKeane,whofeels

anemotionandcandrawbasedonthatfeeling,causeGlendoesn’tseedrawings,he

feelsthefeelingandthendraws.Icanfeelafeeling,butifIdon’tseeit,Ican’tdrawit.

SoIhavetoreallyvisualize.

Ireallydomapoutmyshotsinmyhead,withjustacouplemaindrawings.Andas

longasIhavethosemainposes,thenIcanworkonhowI’mgoingtogetinandoutof

thoseposesandwhatI’mgoingtodointermsofbusiness.SoIliketohavethatsortof

fencetokeepmeintheboundaryof,thisiswhattheshot’sabout,butthenhave

freedomwithinthattoimproviseandtofindthoselittlefunnycharacterquirksand

traits.

It’salmostlikethedifferencebetweenMeisnerandStanislavski,whereStanislavski is all about method acting—it’s all about putting your own experience onto the character, so if you’ve actually had a family member die, then the character’s experiencingthatmoment.You’reputtingthatexperienceontothecharacter.Soyou’re thinkingofyourgrandmother,whenthatcharacterismaybethinkingoftheirsisteror somethinglikethat.WhereaswithMeisner,you’resointhemomentthatitjustcomes

outnaturally.Andit’sfunnyhowyoucanreallyseethedifferenceintheperformance,

andthechoicesyoumakearecompletelydifferentinthosetwodifferentstates.AndI

foundthattobetruewhenIthumbnail.It’slikethemethodapproachforme,like

Stanislavski,whereI’mputtingmyownexperiencesontop.ButIhavetobecareful

becauseit’snotmyexperience,it’sthecharacter’s,andI’mnotthecharacter.

Sothenthere’sanotherpartofmewhereItakethatsortoflooseguideline,andthen Ijusthavetobeinthemoment.Sothat’swhenroughingoutashot,youjustcan’tbe bothered,butyoureallyhavetohavefocusbecausethat’swhereallthereallycool magichappensthatyounevereverplan.Soforme,that’skindofhowIapproachit. Andit’salwaysdifferentforeveryshottoo,Ihavetosay.Ifit’ssomethingI’venever donebefore,sometimesIwillthumbnailmorethanInormallywould,justbecauseI don’tevenknowhowtostartplanninginmyhead.Andsometimesseeingadrawing

canmakemego,oh,okay,thisisastartingpoint.ButI’dsay90percentofthetimeI

don’tthumbnail.

Ihadthepleasureofworkingalongsideyouwhenyouwerestillgettingyourfeet

wetinCG.Whatwastheexperiencelike?

IlikeCGwhenitembracesthemediumthatitis.AndIdon’tmeanbybeinghyper-real,

Ijustmeanbydoingwhatit’sgoodatdoing.AndIdon’twanttoputitinaboxandsay

thatthat’sallitcando,becauseanyartformislimitlessinitsownway.Personally,I

justenjoyanimatingwithhand-drawnanimationmore.Forme,whenIwasdoingsome

CG,I’vealwaysfeltadisconnectbetweenmeandthecharacter.Anditwasweird,

becausewhenIfinishedmyfirstshotinCG,Irememberseeingitafteritwasrendered

andlit,andIrememberexpectingtofeelthissenseofownership,especiallysinceit

neverwentthroughanotherartist’shands,anditcameupanditplayedandIfelt

nothing.Ijustfeltnothing.

So,whatdoyouthinkwouldhelpbridgethat?Isitthetools?Isitjustthatit’s

insidethecomputer?

I’mjustaverytactileperson.Eveninhand-drawnanimation,Idon’tlikeusingatablet

andtraditionalanimationsoftwarebecausethere’ssomethingtomeaboutthemagic

thatisdrawingonapieceofpaper.Withcomputeranimation,it’sthefeelingthatI’ve

nevertouchedthecharacter.ButIlovethatalotofCGfilmshavehanddrawnpeople

workingonthem,sothatsensibilityisgettingouttheremoreandmore.Butwithhand-

drawnanimation,youreallyareadesigner;evenifyoudidn’tdesignthecharacter

there’snothingstoppingyoufrommakingareallynicedrawing.WithCG,ifyoucan’t

poseit,youcan’tdoitandyou’reoutofluckifthearmsdon’treachthetopofthehead.

Therearesomecreativethingsthatyoucoulddototryandcheatit,butyoucanonly

cheatsofarbeforeitjustbreakstherig.SoitalwaysfrustratedmethatIcouldneverget

thattrulygraphicnatureofhanddrawnintomyCGasmuchasIhadhoped.SoIthink

thatwasdefinitelypartofit,butIhonestlythinkthere’ssomethingaboutflippingpaper,

abouthowtherewasnothingonthosepagesuntilIdrewit.Andsoit’sliterallylike

you’rebirthingthiscreation,andwhenit’sdoneyoureallydofeelasenseofownership

toit.Idon’tknowhowelsetocompareit.Idon’tdislikeCG,andIthinkthere’ssome

reallyneatstuffcomingout.IlovethatDisney’sgoingbacktoitsrootsalittlebit,in

termsoftryingtofightforappealingdesignsandcharactersintheiranimation.Butno,I

don’ttrulydislikeit,Ijustdon’tloveitthewayIlovehand-drawnanimation.

Yeah, I think there’s this encouraging trend that it’s not about posing the character—it’s about designing the pose, and I always found that kind of fascinating.Iguess,fromyourperspective,havingthatsenseofdesign,havingthe abilitytodrawsomethingappealingbutnotbeingabletoapplythataesthetic directlyontotheCGcharacter—thatthatwasasourceoffrustration.

Yeah,togetbythatIwouldposeoutthecharacter,andthen,whenIwasreallygetting

intorefiningtheexpressions,Iwouldalwaysgetadrawtoolout,andjustdrawontop

ofit.Ihadareallyhardtimetakinganexistingmodelthathadthisblankexpression,

pushingandpullinganddoingstufflikethat,tryingtogetwhatIwanted.Icouldsortof

getit,butthenIwouldjustdrawontopofit.Thecoolthingisthatyourdrawingstays

thereandthepuppetremainsinteractive—youcouldjustmatchitrightwiththateyelid

andthenshapeittothat.

You’vealsotaughtanimationatCalArts.Havingworkedwithstudents,andalso workingasaprofessionalinanimation,whatadvicedoyouhaveforstudents lookingtoenterthefield?Howdotheydifferentiatethemselvesinthishighly competitiveindustry? That’s a really tough one because it completely starts with the student’s own sensibilities.OnethingIseeisthattherearejustalotoffansinanimation.Ithinkwe reallyhavetotakeastepbackandreallylookatourselves.WeallloveGlenKeaneand lovewhathehastosayaboutbeinganartist,butarewereallydoingthat?Imean,are wegenuinelylookingatfilmasanartform,asopposedtopopularculture?AndIknow thatthebigthingis:Isitentertaining?Butwhatdoesthatreallymean?

WhenIthinkofentertaininginthewaythattheymeanit,Ithinkofatheatrefullof

peoplelaughing.Andthat’snotatall,like,forme,whatentertainingcouldmean.A

haikuisnotwhatIwouldcallentertaining,butit’shighart,andit’salotofabstract

thoughtgoingonthere,andthat’scompletelyvalid.SoIguessallI’msayingistoreally

delveintofilmasanartform.AndIthinkthatyourchoicesaregoingtochange

becauseofthat,becauseit’snotjustamatterofwatchingsomeWoodyAllenfilmsor

filmsbySofiaCoppola,orTerrenceMalick—butit’smoreaboutfiguringoutwhydid

theymakethefilmthewaytheymadeit?Andifyoudon’tunderstandit,watchitagain,

andreallyanalyzeit.AndIthinkwhenyoustarttolookintothatworldoffilm,you

starttoseethingsreallydifferently.

Whenitcomestoacting,inanimation,alltheactingiskindofthesame.Thereisa momentinoneofRobertDeNiro’sfilms—Goodfellas,Ithink—whereheisreactingto something really traumatic. And he doesn’t react! He just stares and doesn’t do anything.Withthatcharacter,itwasallinternal.Whenthinkingabouthisreaction,or lackofone,it’sreallygettingtothecoreofwhyhemadethatchoice.AndIfeellike that’swhat’smissingbyandlargeinalotofstudentwork.OnAdamandDog,there werealotofmomentswherewedidn’toverexplain,andthatwasveryintentional.I remember, somebody criticized the dog, saying he wasn’t sure what the dog’s personality was, and I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa, you’re coming at it from a completelydifferentparadigm.You’rethinkingofthislikeaDisneyfilm.Thisisjusta realdog.Hedoesn’treallyhavethoughtsandfeelings,he’sjustfollowingAdamaround

becauseAdamwascreatedintheimageofGod,andthere’ssomethingdifferentabout

thisguythanalltheotheranimalsintheforest,inthegarden.Andsothat’sallthereis

goingonthere,andthere’ssomethingverysweetandsubtleaboutthat.SoIfeellike

whenpeoplestarttobreakoutfromthenorm,youseethatdifferentsparkcominginto

theirwork.

IlikeCGwhenitembracesthemediumthatitis.AndIdon’tmeanbybeing

hyper-real,Ijustmeanbydoingwhatit’sgoodatdoing.

MATWILLIAMES

STEP-BY-STEPWALKTHROUGH

Inthiswalkthrough,I’llbebuildingoneoftheposesfortheanimationfromtheground

up,detailingtheprocessasIgoalong.PrettymucheveryposeIcreatefollowsthesame

thoughtprocessandisexecutedinthesameway.OnethingItrytodowhenmovingonto

thenextposeistoresettherigsothatI’mbuildingmyextremeposesfromscratch.There

areexceptionstothis,aswhenanimatingaseriesofposesthataresimilar,wherethereare

onlyslightchangesfromoneextremetoanother.Inthatcase,Ifindthatit’sgoodpractice

tobuildonthepreviouspose.

Formostbroadaction,resettingtheposecanpreventproblemslikethedreadedgimbal

lockwediscussedearlier.Rotatingacontrolthatalreadyhashighrotationalvaluesisa

surefirewaytowindupingimbalhell.Itmaytakealittlelongertoconstructeachpose

fromthegroundupbutyou’llbebetteroffforitintheend.Alongthesamelines,it’s

importanttoworkcleanly,makingsurethatyou’renotusingdifferentcontrolsthatare

affectingthesameareaontherig.Forinstance,ifyou’retranslatingtheheadaround,it’s

notgoodpracticetoalsorotatethebaseoftheneck.Bothcontrolsachievethesameresult.

Nowyou’vegotrotationsontopoftranslationsontwoseparatecontrols,anditbecomes

difficulttosortthroughthatwhenyoustartrefiningthemotion.

Ifyou’retrackingthearconanose,forinstance,andthemotionisfullofhitches,either

oneofthosecontrolscouldbecausingtheproblem,anditwillbedifficulttotrackdown.

It’sthesamethingwiththeshoulders.Iftheycanbebothtranslatedandrotated,pickone

andstickwithit.Keepingthingscleanatthisstageiscritical,asyouwanttobuildasolid

foundationforyouranimationandavoidasmanyfutureheadachesaspossible.

TheAnticipationPose

TheposeI’llbebuildingwillbetheanticipationposehegoesintobeforecomingtoastop

atthefrontdoorofhisblinddate’shouse.I’llbeusingFigure3.24,thethumbnaildrawing

frommyplanning,asthebasisforthispose,keepinginmindthatthisisafluidprocess andthatcreatinganexactcopyofthethumbnailisnotthegoal.It’smoreimportantthatI capturetheideaandthefeelingoftheposeratherthanletmysketchdictatewhatIdo. There’s also a good chance that I’ll be dealing with limitations in the rig that will necessitatesomeflexibilityonmypartwhentryingtocapturetheessenceofthepose.

3.24Anticipationpose 1.Firstthingsfirst—Ineedtofindthelineofaction(see Figure3.25 ).SinceI’llbe

3.24Anticipationpose

1.Firstthingsfirst—Ineedtofindthelineofaction(seeFigure3.25).SinceI’llbe

buildingtheposefromthecoreofthecharacteroutward,findingthisiscritical.SinceI built this thumbnail drawing around the line of action, finding it was pretty straightforward. If you’re having difficulty locating the line of action in a thumbnail drawingorvideoreference,theoverallcurvatureofthespinewillrevealit.Don’tworry aboutgettingtheposeperfectlyright.Throughtheprocessofposingthecharacterrig, you’llinevitablyreturntopreviouspartsofthecharacteryou’vealreadymovedorrotated, tweakingandrefiningthemtostrengthenthepose.

3.25Findingthelineofaction 2.Thefirstcontrolyou’llwanttomoveandrotatewillbethemainbodycontrol.Different

3.25Findingthelineofaction

2.Thefirstcontrolyou’llwanttomoveandrotatewillbethemainbodycontrol.Different

rigshavedifferentnamesforthiscontrol.SomerigscallittheCOG(CenterofGravity). Otherswillcallitthebodycontrolorsomethingelseentirely.Regardlessofhowit’s named,it’sthecontrolthatdrivestheentiretyofthecharacter,withtheexceptionoftheIK handsandfeet.Selectthiscontrolandtrytomatchthelineofactionofthepose(see

Figure3.26).Granted,it’sgoingtoappearratherstiffbutwe’lladdthecurvatureofthe

spineinthenextstep.

3.26Matchingthelineofaction 3.Movingoutwardfromthere,let’sposethespineofthecharacter,rotatingthecontrolsto

3.26Matchingthelineofaction

3.Movingoutwardfromthere,let’sposethespineofthecharacter,rotatingthecontrolsto

bettermatchthelineofaction.Inmostrigs,youcanposethespineusingFKorIK controls.Someanimatorscanbeprettystaunchproponentsofonetypeoveranother. Ignorethem.Whateverworksforyouisthebestchoice.Whenposingthespine,don’t forgetaboutcontrapposto,andmakesurethehipsandtorsoareangledoppositetoeach

other(seeFigure3.27).

3.27Posingthespine 4.SinceMr.Buttonswillbelookinginthedirectionhe’sabouttogo,I’llrotatehisheadin

3.27Posingthespine

4.SinceMr.Buttonswillbelookinginthedirectionhe’sabouttogo,I’llrotatehisheadin

theoppositedirectiontohisbody(seeFigure3.28).Thisalsoaddstension,givingthe

poseawound-upfeelthatisappropriatefortheactionthatwillfollow.He’sgoingto

quicklyspringoutofthisanticipationpose,sowhateverwecandotobuildupthetension

isagoodthing.

3.28Posingthehead 5.Upuntilthispoint,thingshavebeenprettystraightforward.However,I’mnoticingin mythumbnail ( Figure3.24

3.28Posingthehead

5.Upuntilthispoint,thingshavebeenprettystraightforward.However,I’mnoticingin

mythumbnail(Figure3.24)thatIdidn’tfullythinkthingsthrough.Forstarters,thefoot

that’splantedonthegroundisfacingthewrongdirection.Itshouldbepointedinthesame

directionhe’straveling(seeFigure3.29).Andsecond,IrealizeIshouldswitchthefeet

aroundsothatthefootthat’sintheairshouldcrossovertheonethat’sontheground.Just

aswiththehead,thisaddstothefeelingthathe’swindinguplikeatightspring.I’malso

switchinghisfeetaroundbecause,intheposethatfollows,I’dlikeforhimtobeas

untwistedaspossiblewhengoingintothesmear.Noposeexistsinavacuum,soIneedto

bemindfulofwhatprecedesandwhatfollows.Changingthingsuplikethishappensall

thetime,soremainingflexiblewhenmakingyourposetestiskey.

3.29Posingthelegsandfeet 6.Ireallywantedtostaytruetothesilhouetteofthethumbnailwhendealingwithhis

3.29Posingthelegsandfeet

6.Ireallywantedtostaytruetothesilhouetteofthethumbnailwhendealingwithhis

arms.Becausehisheadisfairlyhuge,Iendeduphavingtobreaktherig,translatinghis shoulderhighenoughtogivesomenegativespacearoundit.It’snotvisibletothemain

camerasoIdidwhatIneededtodotogetthepose(seeFigure3.30).Becauseofthesize

ofhishead,I’msurethiswillnotbetheonlytimeIhavetodothis—somethingtokeepin

mindwhenworkingwiththischaracter.Also,becausethetipsofhisfingersarerather

bulbous,whenIcurledthemintomakeafist,therewassomegeometrypenetrationgoing

on.Again,muchofthisishiddenfromthecamerasoit’snotabigdeal.WhenIgointo

polishtheanimation,I’llbedouble-checkingtomakesureanycheatslikethisaren’t

visible.Fornow,I’mnotgoingtogettoocaughtupindetailsasthere’salwaysthechance

bigchangeswilloccurduringtheearlystagesoftheanimationprocess.

3.30Posingthearmsandhands 7.Normally,I’dleavethetailaloneasit’sprimarilygoingtobeafloppybit—something

3.30Posingthearmsandhands

7.Normally,I’dleavethetailaloneasit’sprimarilygoingtobeafloppybit—something

thatgetsdraggedalongfortheride.Butsomethingaboutitbeingperfectlyrigiddraws attentiontoitself.Andthere’sagoodchancethedirectorwillmentionitaswell.Fornow, I’llquicklyposeitout,realizingthatI’llhavetoredoitlaterwhentheanimationismore

fleshedout(seeFigure3.31).

3.31Posingthetail 8.Duringtheposetest,I’llfrequentlyanimateonlytheeye-lineofthecharacterjustso

3.31Posingthetail

8.Duringtheposetest,I’llfrequentlyanimateonlytheeye-lineofthecharacterjustso

he’snotstaringstraightoffintospace(seeFigure3.32).IdothisbecauseIfigureifIcan

communicatetheintentofthecharacterpurelythroughbodylanguage,I’vedonemyjob andaddingfacialanimationwillonlyplusthis.Theotherreasonisthatitcantakeawhile toposetheface,andthere’sagoodchanceI’llbescrappingmuchofwhatIinitiallypose out.Idon’twanttospendalotoftimeonsomething,gettingmarriedtoit,ifit’sgoingto betossedout.Typically,I’lladdinfacialposesandlip-syncafterI’vegottenaninitial buy-offfromthedirector—whichusuallyoccursafterthebreakdownphase(seeChapter

4).Forthesakeofthisdemo,I’lladdinthefacialposenow.Theeyes,easyenough,will

belookingwherehe’sheading.Fortherestoftheface,I’veplayedwithsomesquashand

stretch,squashingtherightsideofhisfaceandstretchinghisleftside,thedirectionhe’s

looking.Thiswillgivehisfaceafleshierfeelwhilealsoaddingasymmetryandappeal.

3.32Posingtheface 9.Likefacial,I’llusuallysavefinessingtheposeuntilthedirectorishappywiththe

3.32Posingtheface

9.Likefacial,I’llusuallysavefinessingtheposeuntilthedirectorishappywiththe

directionI’mheaded.ButonceI’vegottenthatbuy-of,I’llgoinandsweetenthepose, usingsecondarycontrolstoaddminutebendstothearmsandlegs,tweakingtheoverall

shapestomakethemmoreappealing(seeFigure3.33).Noticethesubtlechangestothe

shape of his head, for instance. The raised foot also has a curvature to it. These modifications,whileslight,goalongwaytowardaddingappeal.I’llalsobeaddressing someofthesecondarypartsofthecharacter,likethehairsonhishead,hisears,andhis bowtie,thingsI’veignoreduntilnow.Givingthiskindofattentionandlovetoeverypose, andultimatelyeveryframe,willhelpsetyourworkapartandmakeitframe-by-frame worthy.

3.33Finessingthepose

3.33Finessingthepose

OVERTOYOU!

IT’STIMETOANIMATE!

Ifyouhaven’talreadydoneso,takeMr.Buttonsandstartgettingfamiliar

withtherig.Everyrigisdifferent,andthere’salwaysaramp-upperiod

beforeyoustartcruising.

Thereisdocumentationalongwiththerigtohelpyougetstarted.Butbeforeyou

startyourshot,rememberyoursceneprep:

1. Referenceintherigandanyotherassetsyouneedforyourscene.

2. Createyourselect-allshelfbutton.

3. Createyourcamera,placeitinposition,andlockitsoyou’reanimatingtothat

camera.

4. Afterthat,startconstructingposes,followingmyexample.

Thisbookcoversonlytheconstructionofonepose;however,likeImentionedearlier,

Iusethesameprocessforeverypose.Sostartposing!

Youcananimatethesameorasimilarshot,oryoucantrysomethingentirelynew.

It’stotallyuptoyou.

CHAPTERFOUR BREAKDOWNS Whatisabreakdown?Simplyput,it’sbreakingdownthemotionbetweentwoextremes.

CHAPTERFOUR

BREAKDOWNS

Whatisabreakdown?Simplyput,it’sbreakingdownthemotionbetweentwoextremes.

Fromamechanicalperspective,breakdownsprimarilydeterminetheoverlappingaction,

thearcsthatthepartsofthebodyaremovingalong,andtheslow-inorslow-outofthat

action.Fromapersonalityperspective,breakdownscantellusalotaboutthecharacter.

Howacharactermovesbetweenextremesisjustasrevealingastheposesthemselves.For

example,ifacharacterleadstheactionwithhisheadorchest,insteadofhiships,itcould

becommunicatingthathe’satypeApersonality—headstrongandconfident.Breakdowns

areprobablymyfavoritethingtocreatebecausethat’swherethefunhappens,especially

inregardtocartoonyanimation.Techniqueslikesmears,motionlines,andmultiplelimbs

areprimarilyusedduringthebreakdowns,wheretheactionisfastenoughtojustifytheir

use.Breakdownsarealsofuntocreatebecausewecanexploremanydifferentwaysto

breakdownanaction—thepossibilitiesareendless.

LIKINGWHATYOUGETVERSUSGETTINGWHATYOULIKE

“Likingwhatyouget”iswhatcanhappenwhenyouletMayadotheworkforyou.Ifyou don’tcreatebreakdownsandchangeyourtangentsintosplinewithjustyourposetest, unlessyouhaveawell-developedeye,youmayacceptwhatyouseeandmoveon.This inevitablyleadstoswimmytransitionswherethere’sevennesstothemovement,givingit averycomputeryfeel.Goingsplinetoosooncancompletelyobscurethegreatposesyou justmade.Itcanalsocreatealotofheadachesdowntheline,asyou’llnowhavetowork harder to recapture the spark of life you created in the pose test. Creating our own breakdowns,takingthereignsawayfromMaya,reversestheorder,movingusfromliking whatwegettogettingwhatwelike.Beforewediveintowhatgoesintoabreakdown,let’s lookatsomepracticesthatcanhelpuscomecloserto“gettingwhatwelike.”

4.1 IceAge:TheMeltdown ,2006

4.1IceAge:TheMeltdown,2006

Sidtheslothisclearlyleadingwithhishipsinthisbreakdownpose,notonlyaddingcontrastandtexturetothemovebut

alsorevealinghisplayfulattitude.

Four-FrameRule

Howmanybreakdownsareenough?Forsimpletransitions,quiteoften,oneortwowill do.Formorecomplexactions,theremaybeasmanyashalfadozenormore.Remember, breakdownsareprimarilyusedtodefinethearcs,theoverlappingaction,aswellasthe amountofslow-inandslow-outinthetransition.Sotheamountofbreakdownswillvary basedonwhetherornotthoseconditionsareadequatelymet.Ingeneral,agoodruleof thumbistohaveakeyframe,onaverage,everyfourframes.AndbykeyframeImeanboth extremesandbreakdowns.It’simportanttopointoutthatthisruledoesn’tmeanthatyou

willhaveakeyframeonliterallyeveryfourthframe,whereyou’vesetakeyonframes4,

8,12,16,andsoon.Foragentleslow-intoapose,youmayhavea12-framegapbetween

keyframes.Forafast,complicatedaction,youmayhaveonekeyframeoneverysingle

framethroughthattransition.“Onaverage”isthedistinction.Byworkingthisway,things

aretieddownenoughthatyouwon’thaveaheartattackwhenyougospline.

It’salsoimportanttopointoutthateverykeyframeyousetneedstohaveapurpose.Don’t

simplysetkeyframesforthesakeofmeetingthisrule.Thereneedstobeareasonforitto

exist.Isitcreatinganextremepose?Isitabreakdownpose?Isitdefininganarc?Isit

showingtheamountofslow-inorslow-outtooneextremeoranother?Isitdetermining

theoverlappingaction?We’llcoverthisinmoredetailsoonenough,butkeepinmindthat

everykeyframeandbreakdownshouldbecreatedforareason.

everykeyframeandbreakdownshouldbecreatedforareason. 4.2Keyframetimeline

4.2Keyframetimeline

Noticethekeyframesinthetimelineinourexampleanimationandhowtheyaverageouttoroughlyakeyframeevery

thirdframe.Notice,too,thatI’vebrokenthefour-framerule.ItendtotiemyanimationdownprobablymorethanIneed

to.Thethingtokeepinmindistonotletthis“rule”dictateyourworkflow.Justuseitasaguide.

TweenMachine

We’llbecreatingourbreakdownswiththehelpofJustinBarrett’stweenMachinetool.

Youcanfindthelinktoitonthecompanionwebsite.ThetweenMachinegreatlyexpedites

theprocessofcreatinganin-betweenpose,thefoundationforabreakdown.Itallowsusto

quicklykeyinamidwaypointbetweentheextremesthatwecanthentakeandmoldto

ourliking.Wedon’twanttocreateourbreakdownsfromscratch.EventhoughMayais

theworld’smostignorantinbetweener,wecanandshouldstillusewhatMayagivesusfor

twoimportantreasons.Forone,it’satimesaver,asitgivesussomethingtoworkwith

insteadofstartingwithablankslate.Andsecond,whatMayagivesusisamathematically

precisetransitionposebetweenthetwoextremesandcanensurethatourbreakdownsare

beingbuiltonsolidfooting.Ifyoudon’talreadyhavethetweenMachineinstalled,doso

now,astheexamplesthatfollowwillusethiswonderfultool.

PageFlipping

When creating your breakdowns, using the page-flipping technique to visualize a breakdownisinvaluable.Youcanpage-flip,justlikeatraditionalanimator,byusingthe commaandperiodkeys,allowingyoutomovebackandforthinthetimeline,fromone keyframetothenext.Thisisfarpreferabletoscrubbingthroughthetimeline.Forone reason,it’sjustquicker.Thisisespeciallyusefulifyou’vegotaslowrig.Andforanother reason,ifyou’reworkinginanytangenttypebesidesstepped,page-flippingwillsimulate thelookofsteppedtangentsbyskippinganyframesthatdon’thaveakeyframeonthem. If you aren’t already using these hotkeys, do yourself a favor and begin using them religiously.Ifirmlybelieveusingthemisvitaltocreatingeffectivebreakdowns.

4.3TweenMachine Here’sascreenshotoftheeverusefultweenMachine.Itmaynotbemuchtolookat,butitsfunctionalityisathingof

4.3TweenMachine

Here’sascreenshotoftheeverusefultweenMachine.Itmaynotbemuchtolookat,butitsfunctionalityisathingof

matchlessbeauty.

BUILDINGABETTERBREAKDOWN

Asmentionedearlier,fromamechanicalperspective,we’reprimarilyconcernedwith

threethingswhencreatingabreakdownpose:arcs,slow-inandslow-out,andoverlapping

action.Solet’slookateachoneinmoredetail.

Arcs,OpposingArcs,andPathofAction

Arcsareoneofthemainthingswe’relookingtoaddwhencreatingabreakdownpose. They add beauty to our animation and give our characters lifelike motion. Anything naturalmovesinanarc.Onewaytosellamoremechanical,roboticmovementisto eliminatearcsentirely.Arcsarealsooneofthekeystocreatingrefined,polishedmotion,

whichwe’lladdressinChapter5.Asyoucansee,they’reprettyimportant—important

enoughtobeincludedintheesteemed12principlesofanimation.

4.4 TheVitruvianMan LeonardoDaVinci’s TheVitruvianMan isastudyinhumanproportion.However,italsoillustratesourbodies’

4.4TheVitruvianMan

LeonardoDaVinci’sTheVitruvianManisastudyinhumanproportion.However,italsoillustratesourbodies’

constructionandhowourlimbsmoveinarclikefashion.

Throughcarefulobservationofhumanmovement,werealizethatmostactionsoriginate

fromthehip,soIwillusuallylooktoincorporateanarctherewhenIfirstcreatemy

breakdown.Frequently,thatarcwillbeadippingactionwherethehipdropsthroughthe

transition.However,droppingthehipisnottobethoughtlesslyappliedeverysingletime.

Acharacter jumping is an obvious exception. However, since the force of gravity is alwaysworkingagainstourcharacter,arcingdownwardhappensquitefrequently.It’salla partofcreatingtheillusionofweightinourcharacter.Otherpartsofthecharacterwhere you’llwanttotrackthearcsarethewrists,ankles,andnose.Thosearethemoreapparent placestolookforanarc,andifthere’sanerrantarcononeofthoselocations,it’srather obvious.Don’tstopthere,however.Whenyoureallystarttofine-tuneyouranimation, you’llevenbelookingtoarcthecornersofthemouth.

Onethingtothinkaboutwhencreatingarcsislookingforwaystoopposeorcounter

them.Ifthehipsarearcingdown,perhapsanarmcouldbearcingupward.Youdon’twant

toforceit,butifthere’sanopportunitytointroduceopposingarcsanditlooksnatural,go

forit!Doingsoaddscontrasttotheactionandcanmakeitmoredynamicandinteresting.

Speakingofcontrast,arcscanbesimpleorcomplex.Normally,whenwethinkofanarc, wethinkofitasasimplelinebowedinonedirection.However,forsomeactions,arcscan changedirectionandgetmorecomplicatedintroducingtwistsandturns,dependingonthe complexity of the move. These more complicated arcs typically will happen at the extremities, like the wrists and the ankles. Take a walk cycle, for example. When a characteriswalking,theupanddownmovementofthehipswillfollowarelatively simplebouncingarcwitheachstep.Inthespanoftwosteps,however,thewristswill followafigure-of-eightpatternfromthetopviewand,toalesserextent,thesideview. Thefurtherabodypartisawayfromthecoreofthecharacter,themorecomplicatedthe pathsofactiontendtobecome.Don’tconfusepathofactionwithlineofaction,however. Thepathofactionisthearcthat’screatedbytrackingonacertainpartofthebody, whereasthelineofaction,asyoumayrecall,istheinvisiblelinerunningthroughthe character.Eventhoughthepathofactioncanbecomplexattimes,generallyspeaking,it shouldhaveacurvilinear,arcingqualitytoit.

Trynottogettoocaughtupinhowcomplexthearcscanget.Muchofthetime,they naturallydevelopaswebuildourbreakdowns.Thefirstplacetostartisalmostalwaysthe hips,andonceyouhavethatarcdefined,simplymoveoutfromthere,hittingtheprimary arc-tracking points on the character: the wrists, ankles, and nose. As you page-flip between the extremes, be on the lookout for arcs and incorporate them into your breakdowns.

Slow-in,Slow-out

Sincemostofthetimeourcharactersaresubjecttothelawsofphysics,ourtransitions betweenextremeposeswillusuallyhavesomedegreeofslow-inandslow-out.Isay “mostofthetime”becauseincartoon-land,asyouknow,wecanhavealotoffunwith breaking those laws. Nevertheless, for most actions, slow-in and slow-out should be incorporatedintoyourbreakdowns.Yetgivinganequalamountofslow-inandslow-out foreveryactioncancauseyouranimationtobecomeeven-feelingandpredictable.

Tocreatesomevarietyandcontrastinyourspacing,youcanfast-out/slow-inorslow-

out/fast-in. The former, fast-out/slow-in, is commonly seen in cartoony action where there’saquickinitialmovementfollowedbyaslow-intoamovinghold.Iusethisallthe time,perhapstoafault,whencreatingmybreakdowns.ThetweenMachinemakesiteasy toadjustyourspacingthiswaybysimplyadjustingtheslidertotheleftortherightwhen

youcreateyourbreakdown.

Let’ssayyouhaveyourfirstextremeposeonframe10andyoursecondextremeposeon

frame20andarecreatingyourbreakdownatthemidpoint,onframe15.Ifyoumovethe

slidermoretotheleft,you’refavoringthefirstposeandthespacingwillhaveaslow-

out/fast-infeel,wherethespacingistighteratthebeginningofthetransitionandbroader

towardtheend.Youcangettheoppositeeffect,fast-out/slow-in,byadjustingtheslider

towardtheright.Thatbeingsaid,Iusuallystartmybreakdownatthehalfwaypoint,not

favoringanyoneextremeortheother.Bydoingthis,Icanthenuseoverlappingactionto

havedifferentpartsofthebodymovingatdifferentspeeds,creatingaslow-outonsome

partsandafast-outonothers.Thiscreatestextureandcomplexitytothemoveandmakes

itmoreinteresting.We’lllookatoverlappingactioninalittlemoredetailinthenext

section.

section. 4.5 DespicableMe ,2010

4.5DespicableMe,2010

Vectorslows-intoGru’ssideasheintroduceshimself.Mostextremeposeswillhavesomedegreeofslow-inandslow-

out.Inhighlycaricaturedaction,however,thisprincipleisoftendismissedforthesakeofvisualpunch.

OverlappingActionandReversals

Overlappingactioniswheredifferentpartsofthebodymoveatdifferentratesofspeed,

breakingupthemovementandmakingitmorenaturalandfluid.Aswediscussedearlier,

sincemostactionsoriginatefromthehip,thismakesitfairlyeasytodeterminewhat

followsaswesimplymoveoutwardfromthebody,delayingtheotherpartsofthebody.

Ifapitcheristhrowingabaseball,forexample,thehipswillanticipatebackward,the

upperbodywillstaybehind,andtheball-throwinghandwillbethelastthingtosettleinto

theglove.Andthat’sjustintheanticipationofthethrow.Whenweanimateoutofthe

anticipation,againthehipslead,followedbytheupperbodywiththearmstayingbehind

beforebeingcatapultedtowardhomeplate.Noteverythingissosimple,however,inthat

sometimesotherpartsofthebodycanleadtheaction.Inthatsameexample,let’ssaythat

webroadentheactionandthecharacterpitcheswithsuchforcethathe’sthrownoff

balance,andnowthehipsandfeetareplayingcatch-uptopreventthecharacterfrom

falling.Inthatcase,theball-throwinghand,eventhoughitwasinitiallythelastthingto

move,hastakenoverastheprimaryforce,causingtherestofthebodytofollowbehind.

And while the hips often do lead the action, any part of the body can lead. This is especiallytruewhenitcomestoexternalforces,likeabaseballbattothehead.Inthat instance,theheadisthefirstthingtomove,followedinquicksuccessionbytherestofthe body.Byplayingwiththeideaofwhatpartsofthebodyleadandarriveatdifferenttimes, itcanreallylivenupyouranimationandmakeitmoredynamicandinteresting.

4.6 Rio ,2011

4.6Rio,2011

NicoandPedrohoverinflight.Frame-by-framestudyofbirdwingsisagreatwaytoobserveoverlappingaction,where

thefeathersatthetipofthewingdragbehindandoverlapthebaseofthewing.

Oneimportantelementofbreakdowns,whichtiesintooverlappingaction,isthereversal.

Thetermreversalisusuallymentionedwhentalkingaboutthespineofthecharacterand

howitchangesfromoneposetothenext.IfyourspineisshapedlikeasimpleCcurve,

andmovestoareverseCcurve,you’vejustdoneareversal.Reversalsarenotjustlimited

tothespine,however.Theycanbeinanypartofthebody,liketheoverallshapeofan

arm.Regardless,whencreatingabreakdownbetweenreversals,weusuallyseeanScurve

inthattransition.Breakingdownareversal,creatinganScurve,canbeconfusingatfirst,

butifyouknowwhat’sleadingtheactionandwhat’sfollowingtheaction,you’realready

halfwaythere.

Let’stakealookatMr.Buttons’stailswingingsidetosideinFigure4.7.Ontheextremes,

wehavesubtleCcurvesandareversaloftheoverallshapewhenyoucomparethetwo. Sincethebaseofthetailisleadingtheactionandwillarrivefirst,itshouldmoreclosely matchthecurveofthenextpose.Conversely,sincethetipofthetailisfollowingbehind, itscurveshouldmorecloselymatchthepreviouspose,creatingtheoverlappingaction. Incorporatingoverlappingactionintoourbreakdownsisamoreadvancedworkflowfor sure,anditcangetoverwhelmingattimes.However,bysimplydecidingwhat’sleading the action, we can then determine what’s staying behind and pose our breakdown accordingly.

4.7SCurveBreakdown NoticetheScurvebreakdownwhendealingwithreversals,wherethebaseofthetailmatchesthecurvatureofthenext

4.7SCurveBreakdown

NoticetheScurvebreakdownwhendealingwithreversals,wherethebaseofthetailmatchesthecurvatureofthenext

pose,andthetipofthetailmatchesthecurvatureofthepreviouspose.

Smears,MotionLines,andMultiples

Smears,motionlines,andmultiplelimbs—thefun,inventive,cartoonysolutionstothe problemofmotionblur—tendtopredominantlyoccurduringthebreakdown.However, sincetheirapplicationcanbeprettyinvolved,we’regoingtocoverthosetechniquesin moredetailin Chapter6. Also, because they can be time consuming to create, it is sometimeswisetoincorporatethemduringoraftertherefiningphase,asanychangesto yourshotafteryou’vecreatedtheseeffectscanbeparticularlypainful.Fornow,youcan continuetoanimateyourshotwithoutthem,knowingthattheremaybesomestrobing issueswithyouranimation,wheretheimagesappeartostutteronplayback,becauseofthe largespacinggaps.Iknowthat’salottoaskastheyreallyarealotoffuntocreate,andit maybealottoaskofadirectorwhomaywanttoseesomeoftheseeffectsearlyontosee

howthey’regoingtoplayout.SofeelfreetoskipaheadtoChapter6andexperimentwith

thematthisphaseoftheprocess,butkeepaloosegriponthem,knowingthattheymaybe

completelychangedinthecourseoffinalingyouranimation.

4.8 HotelTransylvania ,2012 Motionblur,whilenotentirelynewtoCGartists,asseenhereinthebackgroundofthisimagefrom

4.8HotelTransylvania,2012

Motionblur,whilenotentirelynewtoCGartists,asseenhereinthebackgroundofthisimagefromHotelTransylvania,

wassomethingold-schooltraditionalanimatorshadtodowithout.Instead,theyemployedcreativetechniqueslike

smearsanddry-brushtohelpbridgethevisualgapwhentheyneededtoanimateafast-movingobjectorcharacter.

TIP

BREAKINGDOWNBREAKDOWNS

Forcomplexactions,onebreakdownisunlikelytobeenough.Sohowdoyouhandlea transitionbetweentwoextremesthatrequiresmorethanonebreakdown?Regardlessof howmanybreakdownsIneed,whichmaynotbeentirelyclearuntilIstartcreating them,Iwillalwaysstartwithabreakdownatthemidpointbetweenthetwoextremes.

Soifthefirstextremeisatframe10andthenextextremeisatframe18,I’llcreatemy

breakdownonframe14,thehalfwaypointbetweenthetwo.AfterI’vecreatedthisfirst

breakdown,ifmorebreakdownsareneeded,I’llthenconsiderthatbreakdowntobea

newextremeandrepeattheprocess,dividingandconquering,sotospeak.

BythetimeI’mdone,Imayhaveakeyframeoneverysecondframe.Imayevenhavea keyframe on every frame through a complicated transition—which happens quite frequently.Don’teverfeellikeyoucan’thaveakeyframeoneveryframe.Forcartoony action,thislevelofcontrolisoftennecessary.Whenthekeyframesareoneframeapart, you may need to shift them around to make room for more breakdowns. This is perfectly fine. I am almost always shifting my timing around when creating breakdowns.

INTERVIEW

PEPESÁNCHEZ

PepeSánchezisarenaissancemanwhenitcomestoanimation,havingstartedoutasa

2Dinbetweenerandworkinghiswayuptotraditionalanimator.Hethentransitioned

over to computer animation, eventually becoming an animation supervisor on the

popularpreschoolshow,Pocoyo(2005–2010),andthenananimationdirectoronthe

JellyJamm(2011–)series.Pepetooksometimetotalkabouthisexperiencesandshare

histhoughtsonanimation.

Howdidyougetyourstartinanimation?

Istarted35yearsagointraditionalanimationasaninbetweener,workingjustfromthe

groundup,tryingtolearnfromtheanimatorsaroundme.SomeofthefirstprojectsI

workedonwereoneoftheAsterixmoviesandBabartheElephant(1989–1991).Iwas

doingthat,justasaninbetweener.IthinkmyfirstanimationwasDisney’sTaleSpin

(1990–1991)andthenoneoftheBatmanTVseries.IthenmovedtoIrelandwhereI

was working for Don Bluth’s studio for a few years. Don Bluth was leaving for

Phoenix,andtheywerefinishingupThePebbleandthePenguin(1995)whenIfirst

started.IworkedonAllDogsGotoHeaven2(1996).

Well, after that, I moved back to Spain, trying to get some work in traditional

animationthere,butitwasthebeginningof3D,soasyouknowatraditionalanimator

tryingtogetinto3Danimationwasnoteasy.Itwasdifficult.Ifyou’reatraditional

animator,studiosdon’tthinkyoucando3D,sotogetyourfirstjobin3Dwasnoteasy.

ButIdidgetmystartin3D,workingonaSpanishmovieforDygraFilms.AfterthatI

started working on Pocoyo, as an animator, and within a few months I became a supervisor,workingthereforsixyears.IthenworkedonJellyJammasanimation director.ThatwasmylastbigjobbecauseIbegandoingmyownshowacoupleof

monthsagocalledBugsted(2013).It’sakindofmultimediaprojectwherewehave

videogames,toys,anappformobilephones,andaTVserieswith13one-minute

episodes.It’sveryfunny,moreforadultsthanpreschoolers,though.NowI’mdoing anotherTVseries,apreschoolonewithpuppets.Iliketotrymanydifferentthings.I don’twanttostaytoolonginthesamething.Itgetsboring,soIusuallymovearounda lot.I’malsotryingtogetintotraditionalanimationagain.Ilovedoingtraditional

animation,moresothandoing3D.

Youhadmentionedyourstrugglegettinginto3Dbecauseyouwereseenasjusta

traditional animator. Now, having successfully transitioned over, has your

experienceasatraditionalanimatorhelpedyouwhenitcomestoanimatingin3D?

Well,Idothinkwehaveanadvantageastraditionalanimatorsbecauseofthewaywe learnedit—itrequiresmorepatiencebecauseittakeslongertolearn.Andyouhavethe

timetoreallygrasptheconcepts,theprinciplesthatthe3Dpeopledon’tnecessarily

have.Theygoreallyfast—goingthroughschoolinoneyearandthenstraightinto animation.Ithinkthat’snottheidealwaytodothings,youknow?Theylearntousethe tools,butnotreallyhowtoanimate.Thisisaquestionoftime.Withthisprofession,it’s notsomethingyoucanlearnreallyfast.Youneedtime.So,forexample,silhouette, appealing shapes, arcs—all that, for people that come from a traditional animation