Question about animation
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Posted 10/29/11
How do animators get timing right? When a character is walking, swinging a sword, jumping, etc, how do the animators get the speed right so it doesn't look too slow or too fast? How do they know the exact speed of these movements? Since anime is hand drawn frame by frame it's not like they can just preview it to see if it looks right (like you can do in computer animation). So how do they do it? How to they always get the speed of every movement so perfect?
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I believe it's a combination of talent, practice and various tools and techniques that have been developed over the years. The general movement is taken care of by a Key animator who usually hand draws each frame either on paper or on a Wacom tablet. The key animator doesn't do all the frames, only the key frames which are the most important for timing. The rest of the frames can usually be done by an in-betweener or by software, though purists may not like software tweening.

You can get the general timing long before anything is colored or finalized. There are tools such as animator's watches and x-sheets that let you build out each scene frame by frame. For example, if you are animating at 24 frames per second (which is usually actually 12 doubled up since much lower budget animation is done on two's or sometimes slower) means that if your action is estimated at taking 2 seconds, you need 48 finished frames. If it's an action scene that requires the smoothest motion, you decide to animate on "ones" but you don't need to actually draw all 48 frames to do the action. Say, it's a fist punch, you rough out the timing by using your watch and playing out the scene to get a basic idea of the time. You estimate the frames where you want the action to begin and stop; the artistry comes in on where you want to add a bit of your own "mojo" to it. In the Disney school, this is where you'd add the stretch and squash (basically, the theory that you have to exaggerate the movement in order to make it more interesting; actually stopping at the most realistic moment can look flat and boring).

After a while many movements are probably re-cycled because you already timed out the fist punch for one character, you can probably use the same timing for another scene, etc. If you've got a walk cycle timing done, you can re-use it for many other characters or scenes.

There is software that lets you play back the raw sketches at the frame rate chosen for the project. Even for 3D projects its useful to create an animatic for timing purposes before actually doing full on modeling or rendering. Basically, computers have made it much easier these days, and the software lets you do everything from the raw sketches all the way to final composition, coloring and output.


Basically, Animation 101 in a few sentences. Plenty of resources on the web if you want more information about the subject.

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Posted 10/29/11 , edited 10/29/11

mitojee wrote:

I believe it's a combination of talent, practice and various tools and techniques that have been developed over the years. The general movement is taken care of by a Key animator who usually hand draws each frame either on paper or on a Wacom tablet. The key animator doesn't do all the frames, only the key frames which are the most important for timing. The rest of the frames can usually be done by an in-betweener or by software, though purists may not like software tweening.

You can get the general timing long before anything is colored or finalized. There are tools such as animator's watches and x-sheets that let you build out each scene frame by frame. For example, if you are animating at 24 frames per second (which is usually actually 12 doubled up since much lower budget animation is done on two's or sometimes slower) means that if your action is estimated at taking 2 seconds, you need 48 finished frames. If it's an action scene that requires the smoothest motion, you decide to animate on "ones" but you don't need to actually draw all 48 frames to do the action. Say, it's a fist punch, you rough out the timing by using your watch and playing out the scene to get a basic idea of the time. You estimate the frames where you want the action to begin and stop; the artistry comes in on where you want to add a bit of your own "mojo" to it. In the Disney school, this is where you'd add the stretch and squash (basically, the theory that you have to exaggerate the movement in order to make it more interesting; actually stopping at the most realistic moment can look flat and boring).

After a while many movements are probably re-cycled because you already timed out the fist punch for one character, you can probably use the same timing for another scene, etc. If you've got a walk cycle timing done, you can re-use it for many other characters or scenes.

There is software that lets you play back the raw sketches at the frame rate chosen for the project. Even for 3D projects its useful to create an animatic for timing purposes before actually doing full on modeling or rendering. Basically, computers have made it much easier these days, and the software lets you do everything from the raw sketches all the way to final composition, coloring and output.


Basically, Animation 101 in a few sentences. Plenty of resources on the web if you want more information about the subject.



Thanks.
And I actually know a lot about animation and the process, I just couldn't figure out how they get timing so perfect.

And you mentioned software tweening. But anime is traditional animation. The important frames are drawn by the key-animators and the rest are drawn by the less skilled in-between animators. Computers are never used to do any actual animation.

I'm sure there are a few exceptions such as the Super Milk Chan Show, but pretty much every anime out there is traditional animation.
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Posted 10/29/11 , edited 10/29/11

suzzanuzza wrote:
Computers are never used to do any actual animation.

I'm sure there are a few exceptions such as the Super Milk Chan Show, but pretty much every anime out there is traditional animation.

CGI would like a word with you.

I assume you meant computers are never used to do tweening in anime. As you had to acknowledge, there may be exceptions. If an episode is running too close to deadline, the use of whatever tools could be employed to get it out on time would likely not be ruled out.

This is not even taking into consideration various short anime (such as Haiyoru! Nyaruani: Remember My Mr. Lovecraft from December 2010) that have been created using Flash, which definitely employs the computer to animate the characters.

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Posted 10/29/11 , edited 10/29/11
I'm not an advocate of it and I wasn't speaking of anime in particular just mentioned it as example, but if it's in the toolset, I'm sure it's used at some point. The technology is probably still too primitive to replace a skilled animator for true blue character animation. There are several very popular professional animation packages that I believe are used by major studios such as TOONBOOM with Harmony, that include some computer assistance, vector line based penciling, compositing, particle and motion effects.

I'm partial to TVPaint myself (also its US predecessor Mirage) because it still uses true pixel level graphics instead of vector line art.

I suspect a lot of stuff is just CG rendered with cel-shading. Quite a bit of Gantz for example had 3d objects embedded in it. Just about anything we see today in anime has obvious 3d trains, vehicles and ancillary stuff that are just shaded models. But that's an aside from character animation.






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Anyways, back on the actual topic. The short answer I should have given was: you do a pencil test. It's very quick to do one these days, even with hand drawn paper it's really quick to use a digital camera on a stand or automatic sheet fed scanner to ingest the raw pencils and create a test.

If you do it on Wacom, it's pretty much instant. You can do pencil tests till the your eyes get sore.

I'm excited by this new Wacom toy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXbBA1DRE84
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Posted 10/29/11
they use a animation program made for that company only
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Posted 10/31/11 , edited 10/31/11

mitojee wrote:

I'm not an advocate of it and I wasn't speaking of anime in particular just mentioned it as example, but if it's in the toolset, I'm sure it's used at some point. The technology is probably still too primitive to replace a skilled animator for true blue character animation. There are several very popular professional animation packages that I believe are used by major studios such as TOONBOOM with Harmony, that include some computer assistance, vector line based penciling, compositing, particle and motion effects.

I'm partial to TVPaint myself (also its US predecessor Mirage) because it still uses true pixel level graphics instead of vector line art.

I suspect a lot of stuff is just CG rendered with cel-shading. Quite a bit of Gantz for example had 3d objects embedded in it. Just about anything we see today in anime has obvious 3d trains, vehicles and ancillary stuff that are just shaded models. But that's an aside from character animation.



Sorry I should have been more clear.

I never meant that computers aren't used at all. They are used to do almost everything EXCEPT drawing frames. Computers are used for digitizing and coloring all drawings, adding effects (ambient lighting, blur, flare, etc.), compositing, filming, and other stuff. And a lot of anime uses cel shaded cg for cars and other vehicles, but the important stuff like characters are all hand drawn. And even if a tablet is used to draw directly into the computer every frame still has to be drawn by a person so I still consider it hand drawn.

And I mentioned that in between animation isn't done on a computer and that's because its impossible. Something as simple as a character turning their head to one side is 100% impossible with tweens. In 3D animation tweens have unlimited usefullness, but in hand drawn animation they can't do much other than moving a still image around the screen. That's why Flash animation looks so crappy. It's because it's made with tweens and that's as much as tweens can do.

And I wouldn't doubt that they use tweens in anime for very little things like a still image of a character sliding across the screen while they speak. But that's about all tweens can do, and any real animation is frame by frame drawing.

Also if you are interested I've read that RETAS!PRO is the software used for the majority of anime:
http://www.celsys.co.jp/en/products/retas/index.html
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Yes, I've heard about RETAS, didn't remember it off the top of my head.

Anyways, back on topic, I think anime has the best technical animation in terms of timing action scenes, fights, explosions, weapons, etc. But a lot of the character animation still looks a little weird to me. Probably just a matter of taste, I think. Maybe it's the emphasis on the ending poses, but it makes some of the movement seem a bit robotic or stiff at times. Still, I prefer it to the over jiggly Disney style stuff--jello people, I call them.
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suzzanuzza wrote:
And I mentioned that in between animation isn't done on a computer and that's because its impossible. Something as simple as a character turning their head to one side is 100% impossible with tweens. In 3D animation tweens have unlimited usefullness, but in hand drawn animation they can't do much other than moving a still image around the screen. That's why Flash animation looks so crappy. It's because it's made with tweens and that's as much as tweens can do.

And I wouldn't doubt that they use tweens in anime for very little things like a still image of a character sliding across the screen while they speak. But that's about all tweens can do, and any real animation is frame by frame drawing.

Even in Flash animation, tweening can morph between two states of an object. (It is fairly easy when one is dealing with vector-based art). While this can sometimes result in an unnatural transition, it is possible. A more advanced program could take the physical characteristics into account to prevent this, but unless one was constantly using this feature, the set up time would likely not be worth the investment.

I wouldn't be surprised if some studios occasionally use simple stick man kinematics to set up the timing of scenes.

One thing is certain: Computer power will continue to advance and computer programs will continue to improve. I would not be surprised in my lifetime to see the job of inbetweeners mostly eliminated.

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TheAncientOne wrote:


suzzanuzza wrote:
And I mentioned that in between animation isn't done on a computer and that's because its impossible. Something as simple as a character turning their head to one side is 100% impossible with tweens. In 3D animation tweens have unlimited usefullness, but in hand drawn animation they can't do much other than moving a still image around the screen. That's why Flash animation looks so crappy. It's because it's made with tweens and that's as much as tweens can do.

And I wouldn't doubt that they use tweens in anime for very little things like a still image of a character sliding across the screen while they speak. But that's about all tweens can do, and any real animation is frame by frame drawing.

Even in Flash animation, tweening can morph between two states of an object. (It is fairly easy when one is dealing with vector-based art). While this can sometimes result in an unnatural transition, it is possible. A more advanced program could take the physical characteristics into account to prevent this, but unless one was constantly using this feature, the set up time would likely not be worth the investment.

I wouldn't be surprised if some studios occasionally use simple stick man kinematics to set up the timing of scenes.

One thing is certain: Computer power will continue to advance and computer programs will continue to improve. I would not be surprised in my lifetime to see the job of inbetweeners mostly eliminated.



Yes tweening can morph between 2 states of an object, but it only works on a 2 dimensional plane. For it to work both images HAVE to be the same view/angle of an object, and there can only be changes in the basic shape of the object. But with a turning head, one frame shows the character's face, and the end frame shows the side of their head. So right away it won't work because they are 2 entirely different images. And when you tween between these images one will just transition into the other and it will look nothing like the character is turning their head. This is because a character turning their head is a 3 dimensional movement and requires all the views of the head in between that only exist if you draw them. The computer has no idea that you want the movement to be a turn of the head because it only works on a 2 dimensional plane. You can only tween left, right, up, and down. Turning their head would require the use of 3 dimensions. The only way a turn of the head is possible is if you had a 3d model of the head.

So unless we can teach computers how to be creative and draw for us, tweening drawings will remain extremely limited.

But its more likely that they will find a way to improve cel shaded 3d so it looks exactly like a drawing (because right now it certainly doesn't) and then use 3d for everything. But I hope they stick with traditional animation.
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how do anime characters have rainbow hair?
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