Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Timing and Spacing - Animation Principles

Click on the pic for animation gold from Synchrolux on: spacingI am new to animation teaching. One of the interesting challenges is trying to teach animation principles to the animators I work with. Today I have taken on the challenge of trying to describe two, quite complex, closely interwoven animation principles, timing and spacing, as separate entities (things).

We will be messing with time and space in this post so just check that no astropsychological worm holes appear near your computer screen and suck your brain out.

I have tried to achieve describing these principles in terms of linking them to the physical areas in a studio, in which an animator works, to help show the difference between them.

Working from a 2D traditional animation understanding, it may be easier to understand this attempt at a basic description of timing and spacing:

Spacing happens at the lightbox and animation disc, on the paper. On the paper is, the stage or the space, where you draw your character. The position where you draw your character on the page is working on spacing. When you overlay your sheets of paper the spaces between each drawing of your character is spacing.

Timing occurs on a timeline in the computer. The first timeline a traditional animator (these days) will encounter is at the line tester. The drawings are captured into images by the camera in the line tester. The images are then placed into frames in the line tester. When you move the frames containing the images of the drawings of the key moments (breathe) of the animation up and down the timeline in the line tester, you are working on timing. Key frames contain key moments and when you change the position of key frames on the timeline you are working on timing. Timing occurs at the computer when working with the key frames in the timeline.

Summary: Spacing occurs at the lightbox. Timing occurs at the computer.

Things get more complex when an animator does all the work at the computer.

So I tried to make a video tutorial to explain spacing and timing in this 21st century situation.

When I critique an animation I wonder if the animator understands what I mean when I say, "The spacing could be adjusted to depict more weight", or, "The timing could be adjusted to build more tension or add more texture." I think many of the animators in my studio may think timing and spacing are the same thing. They often use the word "timing" where I would have used the word "spacing". Anyway, this is my attempt at explaining about timing and spacing.

It is important that animation students grasp the difference and the interconnectedness of timing and spacing. If you understand these principles and how to animate with them you will have unimaginable, super animation powers that will be irresistible to animation employers, and your animation will be awesome.

Timing & Spacing explanation attempt by Pixar animators

Monday, March 16, 2009

Acting it Out

In this 3 minute clip Ian talks about "Acting It Out".

Filmed March 2009. Lecturer is Ian Lacey animator and award winning animation educator.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Free Hugs - story telling - using reference material outside of animation

I watched a video that Sarah M (1st year animator) made of a day in Brisbane. Hope she posts it on her blog. It reminded me of the "Free Hugs" campaign.

Now, I wonder what it is in this story that grabs me? Is it the colour change on the first hug? Is it the music? Is there a basic need that has been identified?

Tell me second year animators, what is the story about? And then, if you can tell me what is the story ABOUT? What are the initial motivations of the characters? What creates a change? What makes the impact?

Can you design a narrative like this?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Student Animation Challenge

The animators who made it to the first of our animation guest lectures this week would have been challenged by the industry animator giving the talk.

Well, it is official, you have been slapped with the animation gauntlet.

Let us see some of your 50 to 60 frames a day appearing on your blogs.

Are you up for the challenge?
(pictured: Robert Downey Jr from the film Iron man)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Important 'tips for students' poster

Here is a tip: click on this picture This poster is available for download from The House of Curves blog. tHoC is an animation studio and school based in Holborn, London UK. I came to find it through Ed Hooks' Acting for Animators newsletter, which is a good one to subscribe to.

With an industry animator visiting to give a guest lecture this week I would like to draw students attention to the tip that says: Be Impressive. If industry people visit, meet them on time, have good questions ready, show interest. It'll be remembered.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Crushing Animators Dreams

maybe Karen can crush your dreams?If you take part in an animation critique of your student work with your part of the conversation going something like this: “Yeah, but…”, “Yeah, but…”, “Yeah, but…”

Then you need to read this post.

I am concerned. The animators in my care are missing out on an important part of their education from me. The second years are bringing their animation dreams into the light, out from the dark recesses of their imaginations. And there is no brutal, direct animator to crush some, or part, of their animation dreams for the animator's own good.

When I was a student there was a teacher who would crush a student's dreams directly and honestly and out of kindness. That teacher had seen a reality in animation that is not present at animation school: people invest and spend money on the animation being produced, and they don't like to waste that money. Bosses do not like to see their employees wasting time.

The team we have teaching this year will not allow students to go off the reality track with their animation dreams. Directions will be given to harness any wayward schemes while trying not to stifle creativity.

But there is something about a brutal approach that may be missing in a teaching institution studio setting where the focus is encouragement to create.

The thing that is missing is an approach similar to how a studio director may manage a junior animator's work and behaviour during paid working time. Something more realistic, like what junior animators will expect to face in a workplace where creativity is t-boned by economics.

In a studio the boss' main aim is to create income so everyone gets paid. So they can by food and find shelter to live. On the boss' desk is where the violent crash of art meeting commerce happens. Income is the imperative to keep the business alive. A workplace is not so much a place to educate and coddle the ego of a junior animator as they hatch an animation.

The workplace boss's critique of work that deviates off the client brief in a moment of junior animator creativity, that is not up to standard, that is not completed on schedule due to hours spent "researching" on the Internet, may be a bit more abrupt than junior animators faced at animation school.

The specific lesson is about understanding what a critique, and sometimes actual criticism (they are different), of your work is all about. It is important how an animator deals with a critique of their work as to whether they will weather the tempest of being a junior animator in a paid animation career.

Luckily Karen J Lloyd has made a post on her blog that covers some of the reasons why animators need their dreams crushed. One is to save you from the crushing hammer-fist of embarrassment.

Criticism and feedback, when coming from the right place (or sometimes the ‘wrong’ place) is the only way you learn and grow... Smoke-blowing will keep you where you are. Stagnant... if it’s (criticism) coming from that place of wanting you to learn something and grow, then keep your mouth shut for a minute and listen. Stifle the “Yeah, but…”s.

"Being a constructive critiquer" from the Animation Resource Centre.