Monday, December 28, 2009

Planning for stop mo



In 2009 the first year animators showed a real interest for stop motion animation. The interest in animation styles varies from year to year.

The big question was; "How do you plan a stop motion animation?"

I noticed that in the process of discovering the joys of tangibility and sense of touch in creating animation that most of the animators had an idea in their head and animated straight ahead with it. And it worked. To a degree. They just wanted to get their hands dirty and "start animating".

It was a bittersweet scenario for an animation teacher who has the job of teaching 3D animation. It was sweet to see them dive in and imagine, discover and explore. It was bitter to see the concept of planning we were applying to our 3D work be cast aside for something that seemed more immediately satisfying.

It is all part of the evolution of an animator. The misunderstanding that animation happens in front of the lens is a magical dream created by watching beautiful finished work without ever seeing the evolution of it through planning. Eventually animators discover an important truth that good animation doesn't happen inside one's head. Often it remains trapped there. An animator has to find their way to get it out of their head and into the world. And good animation doesn't magically happen in front of the camera. Magic is a term for not fully understanding something. Sorry to be a wet blanket on anyone's Disney dreams. As an animator grows in understanding they realise good animation is crafted in the planning.

Planning an animation roughly on paper is such an important part of the craft for animators studying a course based on animation principles and the foundations of traditional animation skills.


To help illustrate this idea I have found some clips. The Big Story is a short film. It is directed by Oscar nominated, BAFTA winning, MAD magazine artist (pay attention to the cartoon artist use of caricature), film maker David Stoten.

3 comments:

michelle said...

"Why I oughta...." Awesomeness! Thank's those two clips are a great revelation! Your'e so right! Yeah, I think I tried to animate in 7hrs (30 secs of green cliche!) what a real studio would have done in a week at 5 secs a day. They would have also planned properly for weeks. I had a plan but it was just a story board and rough at that. While trying to animate I kicked the camera two times, loved the playing with the plasticene and making different body parts too much, but I must say: making my jittery piece of moving green crap, educated me on exactly how much clearer (ie planning) I'd need to do and how much more care and time I'd need to take to achieve anything approaching animated movement. I think only a master animator who'd done it many times before could wing it in this medium. So a pencil test really is the answer for us. I do really like the roll/swagger in the walk in the pencil test that you show here and it is somehow lost in the film-noir lighting in the stop-mo version. However the stop-mo animation of the single shot of the hands is spot on and I really laughed when the chins smacked together in the physicality of the stop-mo, not in the pencil test. I get that was the key pose(S) in this animation, showing that old style strong-chin headbuttin' gutsyness/manny pig-headedness of Hollywoods older actors. Is one of these guys Spencer Tracey? I like that grumbling toughness...."Why I oughta....."....I still want to try more stop-mo as tis truly satisfying and the magic addiction is in the getting it to "move", ....blah blah blah too much Christmas not enough animation.....

Frank said...

Thanks for your comments Michelle. Once again well explored and developing into more animation ideas. Hope you enjoy some animation time in the break and New Year resolutions are animated related :)

michelle said...

Honestly, the brain is on fast-forward due to sugar-overload and actual time-off to think and seriously I've had to go over this years Maya tutorials 2 times to even get my character ready to animate. I managed keys but the inbetweens aren't happening so I will email and ask for your fine and always successful help after I've gone right back over the jumping bean exercise notes. I thought I set up my animation properly but I figure making the effort and going over it again will imprint it further in my brain as tedious as it may seem at first to go over it. I need to learn from my mistakes.So the Maya skills are way behind the jumping holiday brain.....aah and perhaps I can't find any more valid excuses......;):D I really liked how you talked about how we students get caught in the "magic" of animation....it's true!Anyway I feel it's a healthy thing for a student like myself to get the gut-punch realization of how much they have to learn....and I'm choosing to see it as it is a life-long learning curve...so I really have to be patient and methodical with learning these programs. What matters to me is that I get it then I am able to use the program.No amount of futher study is going to make me a better animator if i don't have the guts to see my faults and don't do the hard yards. Thank god for the pencil and lightbox and paper. So, yes I've set a few resolutions and that is to change some of the small things that are tripping up my animation focus! We'll see...