Thursday, 6 May 2010

Timing and Spacing in Animation


Really great stuff taught by Pixar animators! Adding texture to timing is definitely something I can add/consider in my future works. Really great info, thanks to Aaron Hartline and Victor Navone!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Notes on Change

What makes a story interesting? No one goes to watch a romantic movie to see two lovebirds love each other so much for 1.5 hours. No one goes to watch an action film where battle goes on the whole time. Well, maybe some do but it certainly won't hold our attention for long.

The fact is we are want to see CHANGE whether we know it or not. We want to see the two lovebirds break up over some crazy ordeal and hook up with others while secretly wanting to get back together BECAUSE it makes it 10 times more satisfying when they finally do get back together. We want to see how our hero loses the biggest battle of his life only to realise he has to get stronger to win. We want to see the glorious montage of him training hard and finally achieving his goal in the end. We all like to think that if we work hard at it, we will achieve our goals and succeed. :)

I'd just like to share my thoughts on how CHANGE is important in story and in animation. I just watched Gran Torino (2008), and it was all about change. It appears that the bigger the change, the larger the impact it has on the audience. In the film, we see how a grumpy old man change to a selfless and caring person. We see the transformation of a young boy change to a real man. These changes in character development throughout the film really speaks out to me as an audience. We feel for these characters and we root for these changes, we want them to succeed the more we empathise with them.

The next time you watch a movie or read a story, look for these changes, not just in characters, but in the pacing of the film too. If there are fast paced action sequences going on all the time, the feeling of speed or in fact "awesomeness" will be lost. What you will notice is that in a lot of films, the build-up to the big action scenes are in fact what makes it all the more satisfying when the moment finally comes.

Good films usually draw you into the main characters so much that you love what they do and who they are. So much in fact that you don't want anything bad to happen to them. But we all know something bad IS going to happen to them. The more we love them, the more reason there is to change that. Why do you think lots of films have your beloved characters killed?

Now how does this apply to animation? I believe the same contrast or change can be applied to animation. If we contrast the poses we use from time to time, say for example a character that hardly uses his arms to gesture to suddenly do a wild action, we would create a much larger interest when he finally does do it.

The same can be applied with timing and spacing. If a character moves about at a constant speed and does everything at the same speed, we would soon lose interest and get bored. A snappy cartoony character who bounces and zips around all the time and who does it too often - would soon lose its appeal as it becomes too common.

Contrast is also a form of change. Let's say we have our 2 main characters and they both look more or less the same and behave in the same manner. They may have an exciting dialogue and setup but chances are, when the audience refers to any of the characters, it won't be very distinct or have left a big impression. In comparison, if you contrasted both characters well enough, say the blue character is big, fat and not very bright and the red character being smart, well dressed and tall; you'd be doing yourself and the audience a giant favour. It would be a lot easier to identify with either character, not just in their design but also in their personality. Probably the last thing you want is for both characters to appear generic and be referred to as a unit (together). Unless of course that is your objective, like a bunch of security guards in the background, etc.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Go go go!

A really bad drawing of me motivating myself!

It's time to push forward! I need to come up with a good short story for my final year project next year at University and they don't come easy! I plan it to focus solely on good storytelling and animation, with the best quality in mind. That means the story has to be short and as concise as can be, ideally less than a minute long.

Pre-production is important to me and I want to make sure I spend the time well. Also, I think I'll be working with Maya for this project instead of XSI. Mainly because there are a ton more resources and free rigs out there for Maya than there are for XSI. I currently have my eye on the Norman rig, as it is the most customizable and adaptive rig I've found.

I will have some difficulty transferring from the XSI software to Maya, but I'm sure with time I'll get used to the interface and learn to use the tools.