So we're getting to the point where we need to nail down an animation style, and because everyone animates differently, I've put together this loose guide (which is honestly mostly just tips and suggestions). Mostly what I want from all of us is to collectively develop a stylized method of animation that looks great and doesn't include unnecessary work. We are ANIMATORS. We work hard as fuck, but if we don't have to work hard, we won't. That way we save the creative energy for what matters to us.
As you've seen from the animatic, some of the main feelings we want from this film is a slow contemplative feeling. We're not having many fast or dynamic actions. We're mostly having characters standing or walking and FLOATING. I don't know how to segue from this but I wanna talk about MOVING HOLDS.
Moving holds serve an important purpose in keeping our animations alive when there is no particular action going on. It keeps the "breath" of the animation alive. Since most of the actions in this film are pretty slow, we're going to utilize this a lot.
Here's a couple examples from my animation tests because I'm a self-indulgent asshole.
(edit: looks like we can't stepframe in blogger, so I'll include a folder of these tests on the google drive "05_animation" folder that we can step thru em. You're gonna want the folder open so you can access the clips quickly while reading this)
"josiah_smoketest.mov" and "Henrytest.mov" in drive
See how the drawings are moving but I haven't really animated much?
Find the perfect 3 drawings to loop that make a single drawing breathe. Nicole did a pretty good job at this with her "Floating bottle.mov" test, so def take a look at that.
Also by keeping the drawings "breathing," we avoid any sudden stops or jerking acceleration.
Looking at Anna's designs, I think we're gonna go for characters without outlines, but the inner lines inside the shapes are going to be animated.
So from this, I want to stress how important it is to not only keep your lines alive, but to keep everything SOLID. Your lines are important in describing the form. I encourage rough animation to get the ideas and motion out, but since we are working digitally, it's not hard to go through your animation and erase any unnecessary lines that might make the animation clunky and hard to read.
Working digitally lets you combine the rough animation pass with the tie-down pass.
Construction lines are fine, but work towards having a solid, uninterrupted form so that we can see how it changes or stays the same. (and also it'll make changes easier because we'll know which lines to nudge over and which to keep). And solid form doesn't exactly mean closed shape either. You can keep track of the form and the lines you're using without drawing a complete outline. You're totally allowed to break lines and merely suggest the form. Like a good figure drawing. Also: go to figure drawing.
Miles did a good job at this with his 3sec test. See how it's not finished, cleaned up animation, but it's close. Know your lines and where they are going. And the lines are suggested, which makes for a more interesting drawing.
PLAY WITH TIMING
and when I say play, I mean PLAY. GO FUCKING NUTS. TEST OUT WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN'T WORK.
Some really good reference with playing with timing is in this clip in FLCL.
Also step through the last part of the clip with the cats. The line boil and odd cat shapes make it feel weird but you still know what's going on. It's also steadily animated on 3s with erratic drawings and it still weirdly feels like these two cats are alive.
I want to challenge you to see how slow you can get the timing while still keeping the animation believable and interesting.
Watch this clip. Step through it and think about the choices in timing and holds they make. Do you feel anything while watching this? The music's fucking rad, right? Notice how all the good animation goes into parts that really matter. i just really fuckin love this clip honestly dudes. We've all got that reference we love.
ANYWAY we'll talk more about how we do this, and I'll make more of these blog posts if you like em. Sorry but also not sorry about the informality of this. We're all developing this together and I want you to add what you think will help the film, be it tests or reference. Dump inspiration into the group chat. Animate or draw something WEIRD AF. I want us all to REALLY EXPERIMENT. Let's learn more from ourselves and each other in this dojo. Let's keep the dialogue open.
also, don't overwork yourselves. I encourage you to find your shortcuts. Let's not kill ourselves (until we start handing out shots).
Love, your Sifu Josiah <3