|Michael B. Cometfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Jasper Brekelmans  ||email@example.com|
|Michael B. Cometfirstname.lastname@example.org|
This is the Frequently Asked Questions posting for the Computer Graphics Character Animation Mailing list. This posting is designed to answer general questions that newcomers to the CG-CHAR list have.
If you find any errors or have answers to other frequently asked questions that you would like to have included in this posting, please send e-mail to: email@example.com. If you do correct something or have a change please include the relevant section so I can find it and paste it into the FAQ.
Please note there is a Copyright, Disclaimer and Bibliography at the bottom of this document.
- Mike C.
A special thank you to all the members on the CG-CHAR list who help contribute and provide information on a regular basis. It is all of you who make this FAQ possible.
In addition I would like to thank Rick May for running and maintaining the CG-CHAR mailing list. Keep up the great work!
|Date||April 02, 2001|
|Issue Number  ||8|
|What's New||Finally Updated! Yay!|
Section 1, #2 - Corrected link to Animate List Site|
Section 1, #4 - Added info on codecs and compression
Section 1, #5 - Updated U.S. Copyright website link
Section 3, #9 - Eye motion facts totally corrected/rewritten
Section 3, #13 - Good animation web links
Section 3, #14 - Some notes about Visual Storytelling
Section 3, #14 - Hero/Quest Story Model
Section 4, #1 - Added 180 Degree Rule definition
I also updated a few of the contributor E-Mail addresses above, though most are probably woefully out of date...
1] What is CG-Character Animation?
The "CG" stands for Computer Graphics. This means that the computer is used as the medium for creating character animation.
Animation itself is the creation of the illusion of motion. By displaying sequential images one after another in rapid succession items drawn or recorded on the images can appear to move.
Character animation can be defined as animation in which objects or characters are animated to give the illusion of personality, life, and character. This is distinguished from other types of animation such as basic flying logos or visualization since the objects are meant to appear alive and act on their accord rather than simply move.
"Animation alone may move drawings, but it will not move
- Glen Keane
2] What is the CG-CHAR Mailing List and how can I obtain it?
The CG-CHAR Mailing List is an E-mail list on the internet run by Rick May. It is designed to specifically discuss CG-Character Animation. There is a web page for the mailing list that includes general information, instructions on how to subscribe, an image gallery, and more at:
Subscription information is available under "General Information on the List".
If you are interested in traditional animation as well you may also want to join the traditional animation mailing list. See the URL below for more information.
3] Are there any good books and resources for CG-Character animation?
The CG-Char web page ( http://www.cg-char.com/ ) has a "book store" with reviews that describe a number of excellent books. In addition most people recommend watching a lot of drawn animation from old Disney films to Warner Bros. shorts and more.
The 3D Ark web pages ( http://www.3dark.com/ ) also have a wealth of information ranging from tutorials to demo reel advice.
ACM SIGGRAPH has recently compiled the most important papers from past proceedings into a single volume. This collection includes John Lasseter's 1987 paper, "Principles of Traditional Animation Applied To 3D Computer Animation." The color reproduction is not great, but at least this essential and hard-to-find paper is back in print. You can contact SIGGRAPH at: http://www.siggraph.org/
4] How can I view sample animations on my system and what formats should I post in?
Many times on the CG-Char list people will place sample images and animations on the web to view. When doing this one should be aware that there are a variety of computer types used by everyone on the list. People may be using anything from SGIs to PCs.
In general when putting up an image the JPEG format is standard. You may be able to post Targa's (TGA) or some other format, but JPEGs are generally smaller and almost every system can view them.
For animation Apple's Quicktime format seems to be the most accepted. While Windows AVI format is also used a lot many people that use PC's.
One important note!: Do NOT send images/animations/attachments to the CG-Char list itself! It is fine to post a message pointing to a web site or FTP address to use to find your work, but do not actually send the images to everyone on the list.
|Apple Quicktime||Go to http://quicktime.apple.com/ to download software to playback Quicktime movies. See http://www.QuickTimeFAQ.org/ For QT help.|
|Windows AVI||Built into Windows/95/NT O.S. Use "media player" to view.|
|MPEG||Search the web for free MPEG players like Windows "VMPEG" program|
|Format Conversion||Intels web site has a free utility called SmartVid for conversion of movie
formats. See: http://www.intel.com/pc-supp/multimed/indeo/smartvid.htm
Also MainActor available for 95/NT and also Amiga systems can convert MPEGs, AVI's, MOV's Amiga Anims and more back and forth. Available as shareware at shareware sites or look at the developers webpage at: http://www.mainconcept.de/
|Apple Quicktime||Use "movieplayer"|
|Windows AVI||There may be players available on the net. Also there is a freeware "AVI to Quicktime" converter utility at http://www.shareware.com/ one can use. Use http://www.quicktimefaq.org/ for info You can also look for the Indeo Toolkit from Intel.|
|MPEG||Look for a program named "Sparkle" or "play-it-cool" available at
shareware.com or also available at:
You can also get the MPEG QuickTime extension from apples web site to use with Apple's "movieplayer". If you get MAC-OS ver 8, this extension is bundled in so you can view MPEG's natively.
|Apple Quicktime||Use "xanim" available from http://www.shareware.com/ or "movieplayer" that comes with the SGI media kit. Note that movieplayer will not play Cinepak compressed movies without a license.|
|Windows AVI||Download "unzip" to unzip PKZIP'd files if needed. Then use "xanim" or "movieplayer" to play|
|MPEG||"movieplayer" should play MPEG-1 movies or use the freeware "mpeg_play" utility.|
A word about small compression, and preferred Codecs from Keith Lango:
I used Astarte mPack on my Mac at home. Evelyn was 384x160 (i think), 24 fps. Audio was crunched down to 96 bits per second and video was something like 43 bytes per second. Basically, I scrunched that thing as much as my heart would allow. But I also highly recommend Media Cleaner. If only I had a copy myself. Used to have it at work years back and loved it. Especialy when you used the pixel sampling algo's on that thing, file sizes go way down.
I try to avoid using any CODEC that won't play on as many platforms as possible. I find that MPEG is the most widely supported format. Macs, PCs and SGI's all play them rather well. And you really don't want the folks on SGI's to be left out of the fun. One, because most major shops are running on them (and thus you want them to see your work I presume) and 2) That's what I'm on at work, the only place I can download these things at any decent speed. :o) Ok so that second reason was a bit myopic, but you get the idea...
Editors Note: As mentioned, as a general rule, MPEG is almost guaranteed to play anywhere. Some people on SGI's can view older quicktimes or avi's but not newer ones. Many people now prefer the DIVX codec for stuff, as it's small and really good quality, but once again, not everyone can see DIVX stuff.
5] What can I do to Copyright my artwork?
From a post by Jeremy Birn, 12/6/97:
For copyright information at the US Copyright Office go to:
For only $20 you can register any work (or any compilation of multiple works submitted at the same time) and get it stored for you in the library of congress. They will even send you free information packets and forms for registering films, videos, printed artwork, etc. This is made to be easy and affordable enough that no artist has an excuse for not copyrighting their work. The fact that work is copyrighted at the date of creation is only a technicality if you haven't registered the work, which is the only prima facie evidence of the date of creation.
"Prima facie" means big bucks if you have to go to court: this is accepted as proof automatically unless the opposition puts together a case to prove otherwise. Other techniques (like the urban legend about mailing work to yourself) would require a court battle, hiring expert witnesses about the adhesives on the envelope, etc...
6] Is there any information on contracts for freelance work?
It might be worthwhile to check out the book: "Contracts for the Film and Television Industry" by Mark Litwak. There is also an excellent book on the Television world with included contracts for a variety of uses titled "This Business Of Television" by Howard J. Blumenthal and Oliver R. Goodenough.
Looking at one of the boiler-plate contracts in the first book it has several sections:
|1. Employment||- conditions of employment|
|2. Form of Work||- what is being done|
|3. Delivery||- schedule|
|4. Performance Standards  ||- quality expected|
|5. Compensation||- how and when|
|6. Warranties||- the contracter didn't copy or steal the ideas|
|7. Ownership||- work for hire, who owns what|
|8. Notices and Payment||- official contact info for both parties|
|9. Assignment||- agreement can't be passed off to other parties|
|10. Credit||- what credit is provided.|
|11. Conditions||- other conditions|
|12. Arbitration||- how to resolve disputes.|
1] What should I put on my demo reel?
Most employers will want to see a sample of your animation ability. For this reason it is important to have a demo reel showcasing your work. In most cases this reel is simply a VHS tape with your latest animation work on it. Here are some Do's and Don'ts:
However many smaller companies may want a jack-of-all-trades type of person. In this case showing off your lighting, modelling, and texturing skills would be a plus. In addition if you are making a reel for clients rather than for interviews you should have a range of work showing off what types of jobs you would like to get.
For more demo reel advice you might want to check out Angie Jones'
Spicy Cricket website at:
It has a ton of information on how to break into the field for animators and TD's.
There's also the 3D Ark website at:
2] Where can I find video tapes for a demo reel:
Look under "Video Tape Duplication" in the yellow pages (or business-to-business pages). It's usually just about as cheap (or even cheaper) to have someone do the duplication for you (5 or 10 minute dubs are often $2.50 to $3.50 each including labels and cases, which compares favorably to most retail blank tape prices.)
Tape prices (as well as prices on cases or other supplies) are based on quanitity. But a company like Steadi Systems has just about every make and length and format of video tape you could find. See http://www.steadi.com/
Watch out for the prices of laser-printer video labels, too! (I saw some in an Office Max that were $45 a box!) If you call Arcal Duplicating Supplies you can get 1200 laser-printer VHS face labels for only $15. See http://www.arcal.com/
3] Good Ideas when going to SIGGRAPH:
SIGGRAPH is a great convention for people looking for work. For more information on the yearly show see: http://www.siggraph.org/ The following are some tips for those job hunting at the show.
Then bring more...maybe 5-8 more reels just in case so you can drop them off.
Other good ideas I've learned the hard way for SIGGRAPH: ;)
4] How important are traditional drawing skills? Do I need to draw well to become a CG-Animator?
This question can raise heated debate on the CG-CHAR list. The answer really depends on who is hiring. Overall having a traditional art background and drawing/design skills definitely won't hurt. However animation is really about storytelling and motion.
Computer graphics is really the purest medium to work with for animation. All the animator needs to do is to time and pose the character. The computer handles the rendering and in many cases someone else handles the design and modelling of the characters.
On the other hand, animation is a visual medium and some argue that traditional skills are important. In addition it may be helpful to sketch out ideas on paper first. In a smaller buisiness the animator may also be involved in character design, modelling and other areas that require basic art skills.
One thing to note is that while there is argument over whether traditional drawing skills are important, there is virtually none over whether traditional _animation_ principles are important. Indeed having a firm grasp of basic animation concepts such as squash and stretch, overlapping action, ease-in/out, and others are crucial for becoming a good animator in general.
5] Jeremy Cantor's Guide to Getting an Animation Job
The best piece of general advice I can give to someone submitting a demo reel:
Imagine that the people who are going to review your work are the busiest, most disorganized and inconsiderate folks on the planet. You want to make it as easy and painless as possible for them to look at your work. Try to avoid anything that might contribute to them not being able to (or not wanting to) review your stuff.
Keep in mind it often takes a while before a demo tape gets reviewed. If you haven't heard anything for 3 weeks or so it is okay to call and make sure your tape was received. But don't be a pest.
After an interview, it is a good idea to send a follow up letter thanking your prospective employer for taking the time to meet with you. Don't call unless you haven't heard anything for a while. And don't contact the company repeatedly.
If you don't get hired, resubmit your materials every 6 months or so. Our needs and criteria change all the time. Your skills/style might not have been appropriate for last year's project, but they might be right for this year's.
That's all for now.
Time for me to do some work...
1] What can I work on to become a good animator?
The simple answer is animate, animate animate. If you want to get good at animation you need to work on it. In addition here are some other things to do:
2] Is there a good way to work out timing and poses with CG-animation?
With computer graphics it is very easy to tweak animation and poses. However characters are typically complex hierarchies. Like any hierarchy the motion of the bottom objects/parts in the tree depend heavily upon what the main parts are doing. For example, where a hand is positioned in the scene depends on where the arm is which depends on where the torso is which depends on where the character is standing at that point in time.
For this reason it is generally easier to work with the top layer of motion first. Tweak that timing and then work down. For example if a character is going to walk to a table and pick up a glass you should first make sure the timing of the walk is correct before animating any arm motion. If you animate the glass being picked up and then find out you need to change the length of the walk or exact position of the character to help staging, you will generally have to reanimate that glass being picked up. In addition you would animate the hand motion before adding the fingers in.
Overall you can work the timing out on the major sections and then slowly refine the animation until you are done.
3] Steph Greenberg's Stages of Character Animation
The following is an excerpt from a post by Steph Greenberg. Please see the Copyright at the bottom of the FAQ regarding this section.
"This isn't the first time or the last time I'll say this, but here are the 3 stages of character animation, and what separates passable animation from great animation.
This last one is really, really hard. Think of Lasseter giving those desk lamps personalities. You could tell which was which, even if they had switched bodies. Or if Buzz and Woody had a brain switch, you'd be able to tell it was Buzz inside Woody's body.
Be that as it may, we very rarely, and I mean rarely, get a tape that makes it to #1. So if you have a reel with only character animation on it, maybe a few seconds of it, usually the last piece you did, will show your true potential."
4] What are some key elements of successful character animation?
When working on a character animation here are somethings to watch for and think about:
In general you should have a good understanding of the basic Principles of Animation.
5] The 5 "O's" of Story development
Here are 5 basic elements of a good story -- your story (short or long; written or visual) should clearly present all of them to your audience.
First the characters need to be (1) Ordinary such that the audience can relate to them. Like in Lion King, Simba couldn't wait to be King. This is an ordinary feeling for children. They want to grow up as soon as they can.
Then, your hero/ine has (2) an Objective of some kind. They encounter (3) an Obstacle that makes achieving their Objective difficult or impossible. They find a way to (4) Overcome the obstacle. Then comes the (5) Outcome of their efforts (anticlimax, happy ending, whatever).
Those are workable storytelling basics.. it's up to you to create interesting characters, add details and flesh out the story.
6] What are the general rotational limits of human joints?
There is an easy to read table from George Maestri's book online the 3d Ark at: http://www.3dark.com/articles/humanjoints.html
7] Helpful information relating to the basic principles of animation
When learning to animate, one of the first things to do is to start studying the 12 basic prinicples of animation. The following is a list of these basic prinicples. Their descriptions are given individually at the bottom of this document under the definitions section. Following these traditional principles are some additional ideas that may be helpful when learning to animate, courtesy of Ken Cope and Jeremy Cantor.
12 Basic Principles of Animation:
If a director tells you to make your character look heavier, believe me you are not going to find the answer to doing that by simply reading the list of the big 12. It ain't on there. Rather the answer is found in truly UNDERSTANDING the 12 principles and combining several of them effectively.
Once agaim truly understand the big 12. Everything else is using some or all of those 12 principles towards solving trickier problems. I'd almost want to call them parts of speech in an animator's vocabulary. I can name a couple of problems that a working familiarity with the big twelve can help you solve.
This was inspired by Bobby's Ollie quote in his sig: "Don't move anything unless you understand its purpose."
If everything is moving for a specific reason, the movements are more likely to appear to be externalizations of an internal thought process, yer classic personality animation. If the intentions, the goals behind all of a character's movements can be clearly read, there won't be room for any cues that read false. Mastering this makes the difference between a character that has been posed, and one who strikes a pose.
With a character's actions and reactions to its environment you can show that it behaves with intentionality, and get inside its thought processes.
More elementarily, if a sleeve should drag when a hand changes direction, and you make no provision for moving it the way it should move, you have violated the intentionality of that sleeve ("wanting" to behave according to its inertia) by making it do something it would not have done ordinarily, making it look like it was something you did instead of the sleeve doing it.
Your planning must be rock solid to animate without the capacity to revise the position and timing of any part of a character without fear of destroying a ton of work. If a puppeteer can move a character's hips, leaving the knees and shoulders in place, as easily as can a pencil animator, why should it be harder in CG? Isolate the timing, as well as the position, from other parts of the character and points in time-- goals that rigid, top-down heirarchies make difficult.
We CG Char types paint ourselves into a lot of corners and live with the results, hoping to apply what we've learned to the next task. They're just different corners than cel or stop motion.
8] Jeremy Cantor's Explanation of Realistic vs. Cartoony Character Animation
Realistic style animation requires exacting attention to real-world gravity and physics (especially when you are compositing a CG character onto filmed background plates). Cartoony style involves exaggerating and/or de-exaggerating such things (and occasionally even breaking such rules). Increasing snap. Bigger, longer anticipation holds. More extreme follow through. Exaggerated squash and stretch. Longer holds at the extremes. Generally fewer actual extreme poses. (Elegant simplicity you know), etc... Often with cartoony style work the animator has some artistic license to adjust physics and gravity to what looks appealing...
HOWEVER, in both styles, once the physical reality has been established, internal consistency must be maintained.
Keep in mind that the fundamental principles of animation apply equally to both styles, just in different ways. Cartoony style sometimes involves intentionally ignoring a rule, but it is extremely important to UNDERSTAND the rule you are breaking in order to break it effectively and with appeal.
A character being "cartoony" is by no means an excuse for not paying attention to center-of-gravity issues and indication of weight. Those issues need to be there. The difference lies in how they are applied.
With regard to technique, we find that (and this is definitely a generalization) realistic animation has more to do with proper attention paid to the smooth, realistic transitions BETWEEN poses while cartoony style is more about the poses themselves, sometimes with rather limited regard to how the character got to that pose. (And I certainly don't mean to imply that posing is less important in realistic-style animation - I'm simply saying that there is more emphasis on the extremes with cartoon-style). Realistic characters tend to smoothly flow through poses while cartoon characters tend to snap into and hold their poses longer. Real characters certainly can move quickly but they can't start and stop on a dime like a cartoon character can. Cartoony anticipation and follow through tends to be EITHER much more than in real life OR much less than in real life.
Watch old Warner Cartoons and you'll see that much of their characters' animation involves not much more than keyframes on the extremes with just a few in/out frames on either side of each extreme pose and very little of what we'd define as "in-betweens". Snap into this pose. Hold. Then snap into that pose. Hold. etc...
9] Interesting facts about eye motion
Just as you can read a thought or feeling from someones body langauge, eyes also play a key role. The following are some guidelines that have been discovered.
The following has been updated from the following page, which also has a nice diagram showing eye angles and what they are related to at:
Eyes or "windows to the soul" as gypsies referred to them can reveal our fears, desires, attitudes, sincerity and many other elements that we often cant or wont communicate through words and actions alone.
Verbal communication, which includes rhythm, pitch and tone as well as the actual words we use, only accounts for about 20 to 30% of our total communication efforts. This leaves a pretty hefty chunk of the communication up to body language. More interesting is the fact that people only make eye contact about 20% of the time. So what are our eyes doing for the remaining 80%? The answer: a volley of movement as we switch in and out of different modes of information recall (recalling past experiences) and construction (creating new information from previous experiences).
According to the experts whenever we look to the left we are recalling information and to the right we construct. Something that must be taken into account is the fact that a small percentage of usually left-handed people are wired in the opposite way. Psychologists will often perform some kind of calibration before examining a client by asking leading questions to learn how their eyes behave.
Try the following: Ask yourself what colour your car is and take notice which direction your eyes are looking.
Up: Looking up (whether to the left or right) is the visual area. E.g. remembering car colours (up-left) or making them up (up-right).
When we recall visual information we look diagonally up to the left. On the other hand, when we look up to the right we are constructing visual information. Both visual and auditory construction have often been mislabeled as lying; this is only half true. Up to the right indicates they're making things up but does not mean lying necessarily as they may be guessing or confused and not actually intending to deceive. Looking directly right means possibly constructing sentences - ie telling the truth but not sure how to word it. As you can see lying is not as black and white as someone just looking diagonally up right or directly right.
It has more recently been discovered that people close their eyes briefly before giving a false answer.
There is also a small percentage of people with what is called the thousand-mile stare. These people look like they are looking right through you when communicating but actually require very little eye movement when retrieving or constructing information.
Middle: Looking directly left or right is the auditory area. E.g. remembering what was said (left) or making a new sentence (right).
Down: Looking down left and right is the kinesthetic or feeling and emotion area. Feelings and emotions are expressed when a person looks down diagonally right. Diagonally down left is internal dialogue. You may recall when Buzz Light-year realized he was only a toy how he looked down searching his feelings.
Confident people usually make more frequent eye contact when communicating. Nervous and surprised people can be wide eyed while untrustworthy and defensive people will often squint and dart their eyes from left to right. Open and warm communicators may also appear to be wide eyed which can also be a sign of intelligence or attentive listening. Open communicators will also make use of smiling eyes. In contrast an angry person may stare with squinted eyes for an uncomfortable length of time.
Is he/she interested in me? Ever had someone look you up and down? When the opposite sex, an employer or enemy first approaches you they may look you up and down to size you up. Men will also often glance at a woman's breasts when communicating, hmmm the statistics on that would be interesting to see.
As you can see there is a great deal of information being communicated through this window to the soul and a good understanding of eye-movement is an invaluable tool for the character-animator. While body language can be difficult to interpret it is vital to communication and can weigh more heavily than words.
10] Help on lipsync
There is an article on basic lipsync that should be useful to beginners and perhaps others. It is available at: http://www.comet-cartoons.com/toons/3ddocs/lipsync/lipsync.html
In addition one might want to read some traditional animation books as listed on the CG-Char web pages, or Doug Kelly's "Character Animation In Depth" book, George Maestri's "Digital Character Animation", or "Animating Facial Features & Expressions" written by Bill Fleming.
11] Bobby Beck's "Boom! Animation!"
Things I've been learning
Where do you get ideas? man this is the hardest thing. I usually have one or two good ideas, thumbnail poses then get to it. He was saying the tendency is to just jump in and start. He did it for years. But he Heard Crazy amazing MILT KAHL speak and he said it changed his life! Milt would do PAGES of thumbnails for just one action! BOoommmM! pages!!! No wonder that dude was one of the best! That's the only way you are going to get the best stuff. Exploration!!!!!! Explore! Explore explore!!!!!! Frank and Ollie used to show their stuff to janitors to get input! Man, that's great! Show everyone and get more ideasss!!! Whoooasaaaaa I'm going crazy here!!!!!!!!!
12] Character Setup Help
Probably the best advice for anyone trying to setup a character is to suggest that they really study anatomy. There's no question that setup is an art unto itself. There's skeletal issues such as where and how the joints rotate, there's deformation issues such as how does the muscle or mesh properly animate, and there's the issue of making it all simple and easy for the animator to work with. It's no wonder that the bigger houses tend to have a separate job for character setup technical directors.
Listed below are several good anatomy books with a small descrption for each provided by Angie Jones.
Even the masseuse here, recommended it for learning all about the muscles, skeleton and their connections. You simply color in the areas of each page and then color the name of that group with the same color. Its kind of a *hands-on* thing that helps you learn how the body moves and works. It also has every part of the body separated, so you don't see a shoulder area with ALL of the muscles at once. There are simplistic explanations for the many types of joints too! I cannot believe that 3D software has not been set-up with regard to the skeleton before! If the software developers actually looked at this book they would see the many types of joints...ball and socket, hinge, saddle, ellipsoid, pivot and gliding! All of these should be available functions of IK solutions that you can use to create you skeleton. For now we just have to think of work arounds to emulate these motion. Bottom line, get this book and study it! You will become a better animator and create better skeletal set-ups.
This book is also a great learning tool. It offers pages of each muscle, its origin of attachment, the insertion on the skeleton, and its action. You can easily use this book to set-up complex relationships between your skeleton and your deformation tools to create the muscle movement that happens when joints flex.
Great reference, plus just a beautiful book with the illustrated plates inside. Orders the muscles into 3 layers. Each section starts with skeleton, first, second and then third order of muscles.
If you need a reference for realistic textures of skin, bones and insides...look no further. There are many color photos of cadavers and body parts. We got it mostly for the texture info, but there is also plenty of good info in this one.
13] Good Character Animation Web Links
The following are some sites or articles that may be useful for character animators. Please realize these links are not a part of this document. As such I make no warranties as to the usefulness, safety or quality of these sites. (ok legal jargon done! :) )
14] Some notes about Visual Storytelling
In one Pixar class, Oren Jacob, a lead TD, shared his notes from a 3 day seminar by Bruce Block, about visual structure.
Visual structure is the use and control of the 7 visual elements on screen (Shape, line, hue, value, space, motion and rhythm) to support the narrative line of the story. In a very small example of one element, notice how editing two shots with motion in them have a different effect, depending on whether the motion has the same or opposing direction from one shot to the next. If the motion is opposed in the second shot, the resulting effect is of higher contrast in the visual makeup, bringing about a moment of higher intensity that hopefully corresponds to your script. The use of CONTRAST and AFFINITY in the arrangement of the elements on frame, or from one shot to the next, will help amplify your story.
"In the Blink of the Eye" by Walter Murch
"On Directing Film" by David Mamet
15] Hero Story Model
"The Writer's Journey. Mythic Structure for Story Tellers & Screenwriters" by Christopher Vogler argues that the quest theme is the basis for all stories. This book evolved form the practical notes Vogler put together while at Disney's story department. These notes were largely inspired by Joseph Campbell's "The hero with 1000 faces".
In essence here is the hero's journey model whatever the genre:
call to adventure
refusal of the call
(meeting with) mentor
first Threshold (skirmish, difficulty etc.)
tests, allies, enemies
approach to inmost cave
reward (seizing the sword)
the road back
resurrection (near death experience or rebirth)
return with the elixir
1] Character Animation Terms
However, one could draw 15 frames of animation, and shoot each image twice in a row. This is animating on 2's. The result is the animation is a little more jerky and is at 15 fps instead. However this saves drawing time and the motion in many cases looks pretty decent.
Generally quick fast motion requires animation on 1's or you may lose information. A lot of typical cartoons are on 2's, or even slower. I've seen some anime with keys around 6 or 7 for some shots. As long as the motion is somewhat slow it can work.
For computer animation the software takes care of all the tweens for you. So you are basically animating on 1's all the time, unless of course you tell it to render every other frame, etc...
In traditional animators typically drew "key" poses/drawings and the inbetween drawings were taken care of by another animator also called an "inbetweener".
Note that these poses do not need to be the extremes (though typically they are). For example, in releasing a thrown ball the 2 extremes might be the arm coiled back and then out very straight and stretched (for follow-through). Then there would be an additional key frame of the arm coming back to a more natural position but still out (end of the follow-through). So those are 3 key drawings. But the most extreme is in the middle.
Another important note is that no action should come to a complete stop before another action is started. Even though ideas should be presented clearly (see staging) there should be some overlap in activity and action to maintain continuity.
Another way to think of this is the character tends to move quickly from one pose to another in only a few frames. Computer animation has a tendency to look very flowing and mushy and it is a good idea to work on timing and editing spline curves to add some snap to your animation.
A note of warning!: There is another term that is sometimes used which is 'Snap and Drag'. This refers to a quick change of direction due to a wave like motion or whiplike motion. For example with a whip there comes a point where the end of the whip is moving outwards while the base mass moves the other way. The tip is essentially dragging behind until it suddenly snaps back the other way. This is known as 'Snap and Drag' and while somewhat related to this definition of Snap, it is not what is usually meant when the term is used on the CG-Char list.
Note that this is somewhat related to Overlapping Action in that many items animated for overlapping action will utilize a breaking joints type motion. In the dog ears overlapping action example given for that definition, one would expect the ears to smoothly bend with the base reaching forward before the tips...ie: each part of the ear 'joint' is keyed slightly later working down the hierarchy. However, successive breaking of joints can be used for standard motion as well as in the arm reaching sample above.
One important note about squash and stretch is that no matter how an object deforms it should still appear to retain it's volume.
Another important note is most people try NOT to simply use scaling in 3D animation for squash and stretch. Real squash and stretch is usually some part of an object deforming differently that just a simple scale. For this reason using Bones, FFD's or morphing is usually a better way to go.
A good example of a natural standing pose without twins would be the contrapposto. This is an Italian classic art term, paticularly evident in ancient Greek sculpture. When standing, a human puts more weight on one foot than the other. On the side that has the most weight, the hip rotates up and the shoulder rotates down towards the hips, while the spine is shaped slightly like an arc. This makes the pose appear more natural and less stiff.
2] Computer Animation Terms
It is similar in idea to the rotoscope, a machine which projects a live actor on film to an animation disc. It is a device, patented in the 1920s by the Fleischer brothers, designed to allow animation to be matched to live action. It was later employed to create cheap but very human like animation which is generally reviled by classic animators.
Motion capture is not without controversy, however. The goal of animation is not to create human like motion, but to impart unique personalities to animated characters, to give them the "illusion of life". Both the Rotoscope and motion capture impose human motion on animated characters, which make them seem flat and lifeless in comparison to those animated or hand keyframed by skilled artists. In the case of the Rotoscope, artists trace human motion but interpret it with the model of the animated character. In the case of motion capture, human motion is copied directly to the animated character. The temptation to use this captured motion and call it "animation" has led computer animators practiced in the art of traditional animation to call it "Satan's Rotoscope" (a term attributed to animator Steph Greenberg).
3] Common Computer Acronyms
These are abbreviations people often use when writing E-mail or news postings to save time.
BTW = By The Way CG = Computer Graphics CGI = Computer Graphic Imagery FAQ = Frequently Asked Questions IMHO = In My Humble Opinion IMO = In My Opinion LOL = Laugh Out Loud MOCAP = Motion Capture OT = Off Topic ROFL = Rolling On Floor Laughing STOPMO = Stop Motion (Animation) :) = Image of a sideways smiley face
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The section titles "Steph Greenberg's Stages of Character Animation" is Copyright 1996 Steph Greenberg All Rights Reserved. That section may not be duplicated in part or in whole without prior consent from the author.
Some information in this FAQ is gathered from the contributors listed at the top of this document, from resources listed in the bibliography and from infomation gained through general postings on the CG-CHAR list.
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"Animation From Script To Screen", Shamus Culhane, St. Martin's Press, New York 1988. "The Illusion of Life - Disney Animation", Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston, Hyperion, New York, 1981. "Principles of Traditional Animation Applied To 3D Computer Animation", John Lasseter, ACM Computer Graphics, Volume 21 Number 4, July 1987