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, October 7, 2018

No. 169, Two in a Row

Often, a single short scene viewed alone will not be as effective as it is when seen within the flow of the scenes before and after. Here I had an instance where it made sense to me to present two consecutive scenes together, so I delayed posting the first one until I could also show the second. As it happens, September was a busy month for me in several other ways, so I find myself now in October without having done a blog post at all in the previous month. I try not to let that happen, but I am now looking forward to making up for it.

These two scenes show our Old Man pressing a button on a mysterious device he brought with him into the airport. The guards and the other passengers are nervous; I have already shown you a few of their reactions. Is it possibly a bomb?  No one knows, so I build suspense by showing the Old Man's
deliberate action as he looks back toward the guards.

Timing and Spacing

Richard Williams in his book The Animator's Survival Kit quotes Grim Natwick as saying that animation is all in the spacing and the timing.

Dick Williams drawing of Grim Natwick. Copyright Richard Williams.
Largely, this refers to the many ways it is possible to get satisfying results in the simplest scene by varying the speed of the elements of that scene relative to one another. This gives interest and complexity, whereas timing all elements together can be obvious and resultantly boring. As in the first scene here, one could even stop all movement on the end frame without that fact being obvious to the typical viewer.

Here is the two-scene pencil test.

In the first scene, the medium shot, the right hand is raised and cocks in anticipation before moving steadily down toward the button. Meanwhile, the head lowers and moves toward the right of the screen, easing in so slowly that it does not distract from the more important movement of the hand.

In the second scene, a closeup of the hand pressing the button, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. You may notice that the finger flattens out on the button for 6 frames, showing resistance, before the button clicks down. At this point I intend to have the button light up to show its activation.

Obviously you have to visualize in advance how this will all work. The spacing guides or ladders, as they are sometimes called, are all-important for this. Next time I will talk about those and about how to plan the timing in a shot like this.

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