7.15.2005

More or less?

There's an animation adage I've heard a couple of times -- I'm not sure who said it, or where I heard it -- but it's pretty dead-on:

"A new animator wants to put more drawings in, a seasoned animator wants to take more drawings out."

I'm paraphrasing here, but the saying is so very true. When I first got into animation, I felt that in order to do a great scene, that all I had to do was to draw some great key poses and then in-between the heck out of it. What happened was all the motion and movements looked labored, as if all my characters were moving in molasses. Not only did the action look slow and lumbering, but it also looked so amateurish. I did not take the time to realize that maybe more drawings DID NOT equal better animation.

The more experienced an animator you become you start to realize that not only do you tighten your movements by economizing your drawings, but the most important thing for you to know is where to economize; where to tighten. How to know? Practice. Do extensive penciltests. Over and over. The more tests you do, the more you learn. Eventually, you pick up on your own style of animating, unique to you, and you alone. And once you establish a style, the easier it becomes to get the job done. What once took you 20 drawings to complete, you can now get the same effect done in 10.

The same could be said of practically any job, I guess. Practice. Just keep drawing. Even if you're not an animator. Sharpen those skills. It'll benefit you in the long run.

11 comments:

  1. I've noticed that about my work lately- I just keep tweening and tweening until the action is so slow I have to put it on ones and take drawings out.

    So yes- good advice! :)

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  2. great advice to take anywhere - i'm really noticing as i go along with my graphics - having just recently graduated, technically i'm just not there yet and need to keep an open mind to how my work works. thanks for the tip as i think sometimes i add way too much.

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  3. That was cool to hear. For a long time, I thought more = better.

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  4. Yes, it's all a part of that less=more adage, too. Believe me, when I work on some graphic design, as well as character design, this concept rings true. Too many lines, details or ornamentation muddle the overall effect you may be trying to convey. Keep it simple.

    I do want to add that I think this would apply to CG animation, as well.

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  5. Yes, this concept is extremely true: I've seen lots of cartoons (let's say current Disney shows/ mvoies) that have lots of keys and in-betweens and detailed drawings to make their movement smooth but in a sense of paradox, also make them seem pretty awkward in non-verbal directions and reactions. Sometimes, a few frames and a bit of simplicity (eg Samurai Jack) can actually create realism despite their cartoony feel. Not only that saves time and money but also enables animators to express the creativity that is yet to unveiled in the animation industry, as Genndy Tartakovsky (a personal fav of mine) has done years before.

    - Glen!

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  6. I believe that was written in the Richard Williams book.

    Certainly, that adage applies to just about any creative endeavor I've ever been a part of--although I wouldn't classify it as less=more, rather, less=economical. I was looking at some drawings by Aguste Rodin, the sculptor, and I was taken by how much information he is able to convey in just a few strokes... Awesome... Anyway, great advice--even for us non-animators!

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  7. I agree. But you shouldn't go with too few drawings eather if you don't have to. For example, most Disney features feel more realistic and communicate better than a lot of cartoons nowadays, in which only mouths move, or only the legs, or only the arms, etc. That type of animation is fine for the stories those shows tell, but I doubt it would be able to carry a whole feature film.

    - Benjamin

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  8. I think, Benjamin, that you're getting more into the fluidity vs. limited animation debate, which I'm not getting at here. Disney and Hanna Barbara, although polar opposites of each other in regards to animation, both had some incredibly talented and seasoned artists (i'm talking about early HB, in the 60's and such). They were all seasoned animators, who knew what was going on. At HB, economizing was standard because of rising costs and lower budgets for the shows. That was the limited-style here. I'm talking about economizing your action, by keeping the storytelling drawings, the keys, simple and easy to read. Communicate well with your audience. Don't muddle it with too much going on.

    What I was getting at in my post are the problems I've seen countless times from new animators' demo reels -- new hopefuls trying to break into the business. The reoccurring problem I saw was that most of the animators were over-thinking and over-animating their scenes.

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  9. Actually I have some more thoughts regarding the "overthinking" problem...I understand the concept behind it- but I would rather describe it as "underthinking". These inexperienced animators don't plan, they can't- or simply don't- clearly envision the action in thier mind, so they compensate by drawing a helluva lot of unnecessary poses. How many greenhorns would you guess thumbnail or even sketch before they bury themselves in a flurry of animation bond? Very few. So I would call this problem a combination of 'underthinking' with 'overexertion'.

    And yes- I do think I've overthought this post. ;o)

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  10. I knew what you meant with your post. I've read about that problem quite a few times now, and it never seizes to be interesting how people feel about it. My reply was rather a reaction to glen bosiwang's post, who seemed to take it in that direction. I agree I hadn't really pointed that out, though.

    - Benjamin

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  11. I see now, benjamin. You're right, I dunno what I was thinking.

    And Jo, I agree about the 'underthinking' part, as there are some students who do not think correctly about a scene, or about a certain character's action and thought process. Actually, I feel that there are so many bad choices being made when it comes to student short films/projects, as the students are not fully getting into the character, and trying to figure out what he/she will do in that situation. They end up using generic poses and clichés for movements. It then becomes over-thought out. The equivalent of bad acting in a movie.

    But all in all, that's okay, as they're learning.

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