For People Crazy About 2D Animation!

Acme Punched! is for people crazy about 2D animation. It may be enjoyed by beginners and others, but it is aimed at animators who know already something about the process of animation and the basics of character animation. In large part, it will attempt to provide a deep look into the problem solving that goes on in my head as I work out a scene, often in step-by-step posts that I will sometimes enter in "real time", without knowing in advance what the outcome will be. Mistakes and false starts will not only be included but emphasized, so that the creative process of animation will be portrayed realistically. And, while my own bias is for 2D drawn animation, many of the effects and principles discussed here can apply to CGI 3D animation as well. I hope the blog will prove useful and instructive for all.

-Jim Bradrick

Saturday, January 5, 2013

No. 24, Problem Four: Forty Seconds In Two Weeks (Part 1)

The Concept

Early in December, I got word from my associate and sometimes partner Don Wallace that he had had a request for a Christmas holiday ecard to be custom made.  The client did not know much about animation, and as is usual in such cases, had no idea of the cost or of the time involved in producing animation.  The client's original idea was far too ambitions for both the money they had to spend and the time allowed.  It had to be done by around December 15.

Don and I decided to counter propose with a concept that was doable both in time and money, yet which would be attractive and also fun to do.  Fun and creative stimulation are things I try to find or inject into all my projects.

The Counter Proposal

So far in this blog I have put a lot of emphasis on full animation, no matter how much time it takes.  This is possible because 1) my film, The Crossing, is a personal project with no deadlines, because 2) I am semi-retired and have a lot of time for it, and because 3) I have a lot of passion for that kind of animation.

But in reality, I am well schooled in time- and labor-saving techniques for just such a project as this one, and I know how to get a good-looking result in a short time.

I conceived an ecard that would get most of its movement from the camera, that would involve just a couple of elaborate backgrounds, and where the only place I would use full animation was in one climactic shot where that animation would consist of only about 15 drawings.

After conferencing with Don on the phone, I wrote a verbal script of my idea.  He submitted it to the client and got their approval.

I began drawing master layouts of the concepts that would make best use of our ideas of camera movement to tell the story.

The client was a metal fabricating company specializing in tanks and other equipment for brew pubs.  I looked at a lot of pictures of brewpubs and taprooms and came up with this drawing showing a "typical" taproom decorated for the Christmas season.  This is a freehand drawing, but it does conform to one-point perspective, with the vanishing point visible just to the right of the right-hand window.

This is another key layout showing how Santa would be standing at the hearth of the fireplace.  It was later decided at Don's suggestion that Santa would not be seen in full figure, that it would be more mysterious to show only parts of him close up, but this drawing was necessary for me to fully visualize the setup, of which I would be showing only details.

If you compare these two drawings with those of the storyboard or of images from the final film, you will see that it was also determined that the tables and chairs were unnecessary complications.

Two days later I submitted the storyboard.

Next: Storyboarding the e-card


  1. Your article is very interesting. I am not an animator by profession but in a related field - commercial storyboards and animatics. I have made VERY simple animated greetings for some friends and family through the years, but never felt good enough to charge anyone plus I had no idea what an individual would be willing to pay for 30 seconds of animation. I'm subscribing.Look forward to learning more about your process from your blog

    1. Thank you for subscribing, and I am glad you are enjoying the blog. If there is anything you would like explained in more detail, please let me know and I will try to elaborate. I intend to eventually do an animatic of a large portion of my personal film, The Crossing, and I think Animate Pro will be ideal for that.