I found this little gem cruising the interwebs.... This is from the Centre for Animation and Interactive Media. My apologies for slackin' on my notes... I've been buried in projects and haven't had much time to keep up with my Blog. With that said, let's get going!
This article is a great read, talking about planning, (dynamic) key poses and having everything in order to execute your animation to perfection! Making sure that you get those main 'story telling' poses in your animation and that it's reading clear, telling the story you want and making sure your scene isn't too busy. Till next post, keep on animating!
Animation techniques such as cut-outs, clay, paint-on-glass, charcoal on paper etc, make use of a method loosely described as ‘straight-ahead animation' in which the animator starts at the beginning of a sequence and works through to the end. This method is often dictated by the medium which animator is using to create images - the paint or sand, or objects being manipulated. It is a technique which can produce great moments of inspired spontaneity. Ideas come as one plays around with the medium and these can be easily incorporated into the sequence mid-stream without the audience being any the wiser. The animated films of William Kentridge who draws with charcoal on larges sheets of paper are examples of this method. Drawing straight in to Flash with a graphics tablet using the 'light box' or 'onion skin' tool can also employ a ‘straight-ahead' animation method.
But what happens if our cut-outs or clay character misses its cue? Once the parts have been moved, the painted image smudged and destroyed or the plasticine deformed, it is extremely difficult to go back and correct mistakes. A completely different way of working to help solve this problem is the ‘key drawing’ animation method, also called 'pose to pose' animation.
POSE-TO-POSE ANIMATION METHOD
The ‘key pose’ technique is still the most widely used method of animating. It is also the method of choice within most 2D and 3D digital animation packages these days. Sequences can be tested and individual poses can be re-worked and the animation progressively improved. The exposure sheet or timeline is continually revised to provide an accurate record of how the animation is to be photographed or rendered. This production method also provides a logical way of breaking down work so that it can be handed on to other people in the production chain.
|An illustration showing how an animator might work in rough scribbles to find the key masses and shapes and then to refine various lines of action to give the drawing purpose and intent before finally fleshing in the character's final form.|
|This sequence is from Dann Dann the Dunny Man and is used with the kind permission of past graduate, Peter Viska, Viskatoons.
This is a fine example of working rough to get key poses sorted to describe the action in an expressive manner. This character is handled in a very dynamic way using lots of exaggeration, anticipation and squash and stretch. It also demonstrates how such tests can block out the action in both space and time.
|"It occurred to me years ago that my animation process was a lot like my writing process — the first draft was never as good as what was in my head; the more passes I made, the better it got; repetitive phrasing was bad; clarity was good; specificity and authenticity were paramount, and so on. Both are solitary, time-consuming processes, requiring a solid command of a special language." - Kevin Koch 2007|
PLANNING KEY POSES
To tell the full story we need to break down this simple action into several steps. We need to see the character standing by the cupboard, reaching for the drawer, pulling open the drawer, dipping a hand in, and finally extracting the socks. Each of these poses, including squash and stretch, anticipations and any poses which use exaggeration, are treated as a separate ‘key pose.’
|Roll you mouse onto the above image to see exactly how those socks got out of the drawer.|
|Although these drawings are perfectly static, they are nevertheless highly expressive, possessing a dynamic quality that suggests action. Such poses are the beginning of strong animated sequences.|
As animators work out the key poses of a particular sequence, they also find it helpful to consider whether or not the action works well if reduced to a silhouette. Staging the action of hands gesturing immediately in front of the body may not be as effective as staging this action in profile where the various shapes and forms can be seen in a way that does not rely on the challenge of drawing complex foreshortening. Poses should have both function - depicting the physical extreme of an action or setting up the character for an action to follow by loading its 'muscles', and impact - an expressive pose with a dynamic quality that implies what has gone before, what is about to come, and which registers and emphasises the inner emotional state of the character.
Animation is an illusion requiring the audience to suspend its disbelief. The audience can be absolutely engaged within the stories we tell and the world of characters that we create. However the illusion is a very delicate one, and alas, it is all too easy to remind the audience that they are merely looking at a series of drawings, a puppet, or a moving computer model.
To sustain this illusion, in a sense, we also have to infer the physical laws of our animated world in such a way that they are not in conflict with our day-to-day experience of natural laws we observe in the real world. These laws can be represented in an incidental way by how your character moves about its setting. Your key poses, therefore, should also show how the character carries its own weight - is one leg relaxed while the other supports the entire weight of its body? Is the body of the character under some physical strain from carrying, pushing or pulling a heavy object? Perhaps you need shift the character's weight off-centre to counter-balance the object it is carrying. What is its state of balance or indeed unbalance? Consider the 'line of action', the main mass of the character and and what happens to these masses when your character propels itself from a resting position - there must be at least one firmly locked down a contact point with the ground (usually a foot) so that the forces involved in getting your character moving can be seen to pass through its body to this contact point making the action believable. The slippage of feet upon the ground at inappropriate times, is one sure way of shattering this illusion.
When learning how to animate for the first time, get up out of your chair and act out the action you are trying to represent. Feel where your limbs are space, what you muscles are using, the contact points you have with the stable environment, and how the weight of your body is being supported.
If your all your key poses are correctly thought out and timed, you will have no trouble in getting all your ideas across to an audience. Flick your key drawings from one to the next to ensure that the poses you have chosen work well together. It is usually only after all the key poses of a scene have been timed out on the exposure sheet and tested, that the animator or their assistant returns to add the ‘inbetween’ drawings.
In larger traditional animation studios, these numbered drawings are handed on to an assistant to further clean up and refine according to character model sheets. Once tested, an ‘inbetweener’ adds the required number of drawings between each key pose as prescribed by the animator’s dope sheets. A clean-up artist will tidy up all the drawings ready for tracing. In digital production, a computer software package can inbetween for you, but it does not follow that computer software understands how things move in the real world.
Key poses describe WHAT happens, but not necessarily HOW it happens.