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

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

No. 152, Off Screen Animation

When a stage actor enters the stage, she must be already in character by the time she becomes visible; otherwise, the illusion of the moment is lost. Going offstage is the same. If an actor's character is angry and exits in a mood of contained fury, the audience must not see that actor relax into nonchalance as he goes backstage.

I once saw a play where there was a wall with a street door at the rear of the set. Suddenly the door burst open and a woman rushed in, slamming the door behind her as she leaned against it, catching her breath. She had created the illusion that she had been running all the way to her door.  Of course, she had done no such thing. She had been waiting for her cue at the back of the door, and when it came she seized her character in her mind, quickened her breathing, and leaped into action. It was professional expertise, and it was engaging and convincing.

In animation, as in theater, our characters must be in character from the first frame, and if they are entering or leaving the frame, they must be held to the same standard as their live counterparts on stage or in film.

For animators, this sometimes means making drawings or poses that are not seen by the audience. If we are walking someone off, for example, anyone ought to realize that even if you are left showing only an elbow and one foot, it would be best to base those parts on drawings of the whole figure. But sometimes a character might be coming into the frame in some other way, and one might be tempted to fake it and just draw the portion of the character that is actually included in the frame; this might work just fine, but you may find it a good idea to do some drawing "off screen."

I have an example here where I decided it wasn't good enough just to fake it.

This is from the same scene I discussed in post No. 151.  You can review the pencil test here.
Where I ran into trouble was in the first few drawings. Starting out with his head down, he brings it up as he stands. The first key drawing I did after the resting poses was this one:

Drawing 5

This is drawing 5. The next extreme is drawing 13.

Drawing 13

How do I inbetween  numbers 7, 9 and 11 without seeing the lower half of the face in drawing 5?  Well, just because I was running off the bottom edge of the paper where I was already well out of the camera frame, that did not mean I could not draw the image I needed.  And so I did, attaching an extra piece of paper to the bottom of 5.  Then I could easily do accurate inbetweening for the drawings that would be seen.

Drawing 5 with the temporary extension added to show the rest of his face.

And, what of drawings 1 and 3, where we see only the hat and the curve of his back?  Oh, those I just faked.  Which really means, I extrapolated based on my experience. As I say, it sometimes does work to "fake it." By trial and error, you just have to learn when you can do that, and when you shouldn't.

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