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

Friday, March 29, 2019

No. 184: Getting into Color

A lot of color choices to be made here!

Not My Favorite Thing, but...

You know what my favorite thing is: animation. But of course if you are making films, and are doing it mostly alone, you don't just get scenes handed to you; you have to do it all.

And that is a good thing. Then you're not just an animator; you're a film maker. (Although "Just an animator" doesn't sound right to me.) And as much as I like to animate, there is joy and satisfaction in doing the other things, too: the layouts, the script, the storyboards, the backgrounds, the color styling--all of it.

So, color styling, that's where I am right now.  I find myself continually thinking about what the film will look like on the screen. Should the palette be a limited palette, as for example if everything were in shades of blue and brown, and nothing else? That's a very big and important decision to make.  Here is a small one: should the Old Man have a brown suit, or a green one? But I do think about it.

These are a few of my color experiments that have happened this week.
The woman security guard.
The Old Man and his trunk, confronted by the male guard.

Two of the supporting characters.


Monday, March 18, 2019

No. 183: Man Takes Picture with Tablet

Sometimes the simplest things can be the hardest. Overt action in animation happens to be easier than being restrained or subtle. I had to do a second try at this little scene before I got it right.

This young man, fascinated by the doings of my Old Man character in line in front of him in the airport luggage inspection line, has gotten down on one knee to take a picture with his tablet. We see him raise the tablet into position for the shot.

At first I had him look down and pull the tablet slightly toward his chest before going into the full extension extreme at the end.  But this turned out to be too much movement for this anticipation. I ended up keeping his head steady and moved only his pelvis back a little as he prepares to lunge forward.

One has to keep in mind the importance of the shot.  It makes the point that people are watching the Old Man with varying degrees of interest, but it doesn't take center stage really.  (In the shot, other passengers will be shown around him.) I now feel that I got the right movement in this shot.

See what you think:

Friday, March 15, 2019

No. 182: 21 Extremes + 1,599 Inbetweens = Amazing Perijove Movie

Automatic Inbetweening

One frame from the APOD video of February 5, 2019.

I don't know if I have ever discussed this topic here before, but when computer animation first became possible, the hope among some people was that animation would be a lot cheaper, a lot easier to do, if all you had to do was create the extremes and let the computer do the inbetweening for you.
Faster and cheaper, right? With perfect  rendering, right?

Well, it turned out to be not such a good idea after all in character animation, for reasons that are obvious to animators. The movement of organic objects such as human and animal characters is way more complex than just moving from one extreme to the next. Such a transition will rightly include anticipation, drag, follow through, squash and stretch--almost the entire list of the so-called 12 principles of animation--plus deliberate distortions that are more related to esthetics and showmanship than to physics.

Thus, today's CGI character animator has to have many controllers at her command in order to get the nuances necessary to make believable and entertaining character movement.

The Exception: Rigid Objects

But for the rigid object--a spaceship, a chair, a house viewed from a changing perspective--automatic inbetweening is desirable. In the 1980s and early 90s, when computer animation was not so universally available, I was sometimes asked to animate by hand a rotating signboard, for example, and "make it look like computer animation." It was possible, but it wasn't easy, and I yearned for a simpler way to do it--a way that has now become commonplace.


Having a fascination with astronomy, occasionally I look through the images on a great science website called Astronomy Picture of the Day, or APOD. which is supported by NASA. Daily subjects include enhanced photos of galaxies and nebulae, eclipses, planetary conjunctions, aurorae, comets, meteor showers, photos taken from space stations, and other astronomical images.

Recently they published a fly-by video of the planet Jupiter taken from the NASA spacecraft Juno. With just 21 images, they were able to extrapolate almost 1,600 inbetweens to create a breathtaking close approach to our largest planet.

Take a look here and enjoy!
The Juno satellite approaches Jupiter.

Approximately at perijove, or closest approach to Jupiter.

A frame taken as the satellite now moves on past our
solar system's largest planet.