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, October 22, 2016

No. 112, Richard Williams Teaches Me How to Draw Urinals

On my storyboard, I find myself still in the men's room--in the toilet.  And faced with the challenge of drawing a long neat row of urinals in perspective, I soon turned to the renowned animator and designer Richard Williams.

It was not the urinal itself that was the problem, but the convincing rendering of a series of evenly spaced modules diminishing in the distance.  It is easy to know the size at any point along the row by the perspective lines radiating from the vanishing point, but it is not so easy to know where they should be placed along those lines.

In a lot of things, the experienced artist can fake perspective without going to the trouble of establishing an actual vanishing point and then drawing guidelines. Or perhaps a phrase more accurate than the word fake would be "make an educated guess." If the situation is simple enough, one can often get away with it.

But with things as regular as fenceposts or Doric columns, the viewer will be quick to notice if something is wrong in the spacing.  After only a little drawing and a lot of erasing, I remembered that Richard Williams had addressed this issue in his book The Animator's Survival Kit. It was certainly worth looking up.

This is actually about spacing the drawings of something moving toward you in perspective,
but it also applies to a series of evenly spaced objects in perspective.
A most useful trick to know!
So here is how I applied it to my row of nine urinals.
You can see some of my blue pencil intersections.
What this doesn't give you is any cumulative change in angle as you go down the line. That part, I did fake.

And now here are the urinals again, this time with customers.

And all of this for a shot that will be on screen for less than two seconds. My thanks to Richard Williams, and to the great Warner's animator Ken Harris, who showed him this trick.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

No. 111, When the Storyboard Artist Is Also the Animator...

When the storyboard artist happens also to be the animator, some things may be included in the storyboard that would not otherwise be.

In my case, as an independent film maker, I am just about everything else in the production pipeline, too--but never mind about that.

 When I am the Storyboard Person and I come to a scene where my thinking is engaged in the development of a scene, sometimes the Animator takes the pencil away from me and adds some "unnecessary" panels to the board.

Of course they are not entirely unnecessary--not at all.  But they are perhaps not necessary to the storyboard as such; they are instead necessary as thumbnails for the animator. Thumbnailing your animation ideas is considered an essential step for the animator in visualizing all the action of a scene before more detailed work is begun.

I do consider not including these more subtle stages of movement, but when I do, the Animator jumps to his feet in great agitation, saying, "Wait! Having thought of these details, how can you not set them down?  What if, by the time I, the Animator, at last get hold of the scene, I do not recall these inspirations that have occurred to us, and instead do something with the movement of this character that is less interesting than what we have thought of here? Then, having not recorded these fleetiing but wonderful notions, they will be lost."

And so I find that I, the Storyboard Person (Storyboardist? Why is there not a one-word term for this art? Even Inbetweener, awkward though it is, is but a single word) cannot argue with the Animator in this. If you think it, if you like it, write it down or draw it; make a note of it.  Because, you see, if you think of it and do not record it, and then you forget the thought that you had, you may even forget that you had any idea at all.  You will not even know that anything is missing. Why take that chance?

Following is a part of a scene that might have been depicted satisfactorily in just five panels, storyboard-wise. But for the sake of the Animator, I (the Storyboard Person) have included some extra stages of movement.

The first panel, the first pose.

He pushes open the lid; an essential panel.
Reaching into the lid; another essential panel.
In this panel and the next, the man unsuccessfully tries to pull something out
of the lid, This might be something that the animator and not the storyboard
person would be adding.
The Old Man now takes a two-handed grip.
This drawing clearly could be omitted from the storyboard, if not from the
notes of the animator.
This panel is another essential, showing the flow of the big overcoat as it
emerges from the lid of the trunk.
Another panel not essential to the storyboard. One can easily get the whole
idea of the action without these two sepia-colored panels.
The final essential panel.
Yes, we could easily have met the requirements of the storyboard with only seven of these nine images, and perhaps with only five.  And yet, having visualized the action, why not note it down? In my opinion, storyboard artists should always err on the side of excess rather than omitting that which might prove to be useful and evocative.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

No. 110, Welcome Recognition

In the Top 100

Today I was pleased to be notified by Anuj Agarwal, founder of Feedspot, that this blog has made their newly revised list of Top 100 Animation Blogs. (See the badge displayed at the top of my sidebar.)

This means a lot to me, as I am one whose target audience is restricted somewhat to people interested in pursuing 2D animation--admittedly, a small group even world-wide--as opposed to that of someone writing about animation news or animation in general.  Also, with some exceptions such as book reviews, I restrict the content to accounts of my own personal experiences in animation.

Nevertheless, I expect that there will be many new people looking in on this blog now, so I am determined to keep posting tips and personal accounts that are as interesting as I can make them. Therefore,  both to the loyal followers I already have and to anyone new, please keep coming back for more.