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

Sunday, March 3, 2013

No. 32, Problem Five: Bringing the Fox Down (Part 4)

The Answer

If you haven't figured it out, the problem to which the Director was referring  was the spacing of the drawings.  Specifically, the fox images in drawings 87 and 89 did not overlap each other at all; nor did they overlap the adjacent drawings 85 and 91.  Generally speaking, overlap of shapes in animation creates smoothness in movement, while lack of overlap makes for the jittery look called strobing.

In live-action and, now, in computer generated animation, this is compensated by blur: by a softening of the edges that happens naturally in live action photography and is simulated in the computer.

With our old fashioned 2D animation, however, we can make use of one of four traditional solutions for this problem:

1. We can simulate blur with streaks or speed lines that trail along behind the moving character and accent the arc of movement.

2.  We can add multiple images to a single drawing.

3.  We can use the smear technique as made famous by Chuck Jones in "The Dover Boys."

4. Or lastly, we can simply go on one's--one drawing per frame--and add a couple of drawings that will provide the needed overlap.

There is an additional technique now available to me in Toon Boom Animate Pro, which is the ability to add a blur effect to any drawing.  I have not yet experimented with this however.

In a future post, I will demonstrate all of these different solutions, but in this particular instance I decided to use number 4.

Before Adding New Drawings

Here are all the original drawings of the movement slowed down, with each drawing exposed 12 times rather than 2 times, so that the spacing can be clearly seen:
Note the great distance that the middle drawings, particularly 87 and 89, have to travel.  There is almost no overlap of the fox's head with the adjacent drawings.

After Adding New Drawings

Here is the same sequence with two new drawings (86 and 88).  Now 85 through 88 will be on ones, so in this slow-motion demo, each of those is represented by 6 exposures instead of 12, while all the others are on 12's as before.
Now you should be able to see that the spacing has a lot of overlap of shapes, thus smoothing out the movement and minimizing strobing.

The New Sequence At Full Speed

Here now is what it looks like at full speed, using 2's and 1's as planned:

As always, if anything about the above is unclear, please send me a comment and I will try to improve upon the explanation.

One more thing I want to mention is that when I examined the arc of movement of the original drawings, I determined that one of them--number 87--was seriously out of line with the arc.  Before shooting the above tests, I corrected that drawing.  The correction is illustrated below:
The red outline shows the original positioning.

Next: Adding More To the Scene

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