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

Thursday, June 21, 2018

No. 162, My Next Assignment...and Yours!, part 2

The Inbetweens and Key Drawings

I have now done my animation of this scene, and there were some surprises. More about that later, but first let's look at the main poses.  We began with the two storyboard poses last time; here is how those translated into animation drawings.


Storyboard panel 1.

...became this. Simple enough.

But then the second storyboard panel...

Storyboard panel 2.
Ended up converting to two drawings: this one (which pretty much resembles story panel 2)...

Drawing 57

 ...and also this one, an even more extreme compression of Nelson's body.

Drawing 71

This last drawing and the six inbetweens leading to it comprise a moving hold, in Disney parlance, ending in a trembling vibration on ones between drawing 71 and drawing 72 (which is drawing 71 re-traced with some minimal displacement of forms; that's how you get an effect of vibration or trembling).

Thus, the sequence for the end is 57, 59, 61, 63, 65, 67, 69 (all on twos) and 71, 72, 71, 72, 71, 72, etc. (all on ones.)

 At the beginning of the scene, before Nelson goes into his cringe, you will see that I also have him quickly looking one way and then the other.

Here is the first pass pencil test of this whole thing:

What do you think? My own opinion: the cringe part is good but the beginning where he glances back and forth does not read very well.

Next: We'll add a couple of holds, and also talk about those quick transitions.

Friday, June 8, 2018

No. 161, My Next Assignment...and Yours!

My Next Assignment

The is a reaction shot from the same character we have been working with in posts 157 thru 160, the impatient guy who makes a show of looking at his watch.

Aww, let's give him a name, instead of saying "that guy who blah blah blah", every time. How about Nelson, after a friend of mine?

Okay, we cut to Nelson right after he has seen someone press a button that appears to have activated a bomb. He reacts by cringing and shrinking down, thinking he is going to die.

As in the last scene, the storyboard artist (me) has provided just two panels for this one: 1) Nelson looking alarmed, and 2) Nelson shrunken into a death-fear cringe.

Nelson sees the button being pushed...
Nelson cringes, trembling.

The animator (me) now looks and considers the obvious, which is basically just to accept the two poses as definitive and go ahead and animate more or less straight from one to the other.  Hold and cut!

Last time, we made something more interesting based on only two poses, and I think we can do the same here.

As we have noted before, the job of the storyboard artist is to sketch the story in great detail. But it is not her job to do the deepest planning and acting--that is the job of the animator. Between the storyboard and the final animation lie the animator's thinking and his resultant thumbnails, which are the visual notes from that thinking.

This is especially true of scenes in pantomime, scenes without dialog.

Lay people, even visual artists, have said to me that they thought animating dialog must be especially difficult.  On the contrary, if you have a good voice actor, the animator has it much easier, because the voice actor will have done a lot of your timing for you, possibly will have even suggested good poses and gestures in her body language during recording.

The actor Edmond Gwenn, who played Kris Kringle in the original Miracle on 34th Street, famously said on his death bed that "dying is easy; comedy is hard."

But the animator says: dialog is easy; pantomime is hard. And you don't have to be on your death bed to know it.

Many people dislike mime artists, but working in front of your mirror over some silent action, that is exactly what you are, though the mirror and your sketchpad may be your only witnesses.

Your Assignment, should you choose to accept it...

For now, I am going to hold back my own ideas for this particular problem and ask you, What would you do?  If you were the animator, would you add more business to the scene? Let's say you have this restraint: the scene can't last more than 3.5 seconds, including holds.

In a week or so, I'll blog again with my own ideas.  In the meantime, why not let me know how you would do this?  I will be happy to hear from any of you.