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, August 30, 2018

No. 168, The Simple Things

The Simple Things

In animation production, as I have mentioned, it is wise to organize the scene "handouts" in their order of importance or complexity, the idea being to get the best work from the animators on the most critical scenes. If any sort of creative fatigue or ennui sets in, it is hoped, it will be at such a time when the scenes being worked on are simple and less likely to affect the quality of the production.

Although I am working alone on my project, I have just about arrived at that point. There are many scenes still to be done but they are mostly uncomplicated.

Here is such a scene: the Old Man in line at the carry-on X-ray station has hesitated to comply with the requirement that he get his own bag up onto the table. Cut to the guard, who then leans forward and (cut to reverse closeup) taps the steel table three times with his hand. So, I will deal with two scenes at once here since they are so closely related.

The Storyboard Drawings

The guard is aware that the Old Man is hesitant.

To make it clear that the Old Man must get his own bag onto the
table, the guard reaches out a hand and...

...taps three times on the table.
While I was entirely faithful to the first two panels as drawn, I did redraw the third panel. In the original, the trunk seemed too tall relative to the table, and the Old Man needed to be facing in a different direction. Here is my layout showing those changes.

Also, I added the angry man to the right.

Now I will show you the two scenes together, but without backgrounds or anything but the moving character.

Note that the hand animation at the end is all still in very rough drawings, yet the animation comes across just as well as if it were in cleanups.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

No. 167, Work-around for a YouTube Quirk

Where's My Hold?!!

To my annoyance, I have noticed that my YouTube uploads have often been shortened at the end.  The problem arises when I have a hold at the end of my pencil test.  If it is 6 or 10 or 20 frames long--no matter--if there is not any change in the image, YouTube will clip off all but one or two of the frames.

This is serious because a hold at the end is an important timing feature of any animation.

My solution now is to add a couple of blank frames at the end.  Then all the frames of my ending hold get published.  Here is a test of that solution.

It works, and now that I know what to do, I am happy with the results.  (Compare with the videos in post No. 166.}

No. 166, Beware of Re-writing Unintentionally


It is one thing to enhance a scene with character movement and acting; it is another to change the meaning of the scene by what you add. A storyboarded scene may be fairly interpreted in many different ways, but it should not be re-interpreted in such a way that it no longer tells the story properly.

That is a problem I ran into with this scene. Of course I am my own storyboard artist as well as the animator, but in this case I went too far in my interpretation.

The scene is a sequel to the one we looked at in post No. 163, in which the character I call Nelson has reacted to a perceived bomb threat by cringing down into a fearful posture.

The "bomb" has turned out to be a harmless, non-explosive mechanical device. Nelson now rises up from his trembling crouch to see what is really happening.

Here are the storyboard panels with which I was working.

Panel 1
Panel 2
Pretty simple, huh? But, I decided to make it more complicated. I thought, what if he then shows his anger at being frightened, and at publicly showing his fear? And I came up with a final pose drawing for this that I really liked:

The "extra" pose I added.

Not bad, huh? He looks mad as hell, doesn't he? So, I went ahead and animated it as part of the scene, and it came out like this.

I thought the animation came out pretty good too, so I showed it to my director, who practically threw it back in my face. "If I want the damn story changed, I'll change it, or I'll have the storyboard department change it", he said.  He was clearly frustrated with me. "As animator," he went on, lowering his voice as he got hold of himself, "it's not your job. Having him get mad like that at this point does not work with his other scenes.  What were you thinking?"  

Have I mentioned that the director is me? As I am also the animator and storyboard department,  this was an intimate conversation. But the director is boss, so the animator must back down, and I did. Then I had to think how to fix it.  It was actually easy; I just removed the last eight drawings, and it was back in line with the storyboard.

The real regret, of course, is the wasted work.  If not for this blog, no one would ever have seen the version above.

Now, here is the scene as it was written and storyboarded.

Yes, it is fun to think up cool things to add to your scene; just don't try to change the storyline in the process!