Saturday, February 24, 2007

My animation process

I've been asked a few times, by friends and folk from the web, about my animation process.
I'm not a very experienced animator and recently I have been struggling to develop a more solid approach to my shots and a better workflow.
I think that understanding and having a strong workflow that benefits the quality and speed of the animation is one of the most important steps to become a successful animator, especially in the competitive CG animation market.
Animating a character properly is a difficult and complex task. There are so many things to be aware of, that an animator can feel lost if he or she does not know what to focus on at a given time.
The thing that has helped me the most is not to do too much at the same time and even though this may sound like it doesn't too much help speed wise, it actually does!
So here's my animation process.

1 - THINK!

Ok, this may sound ridiculous as it is so obvious, but you have no ideia how many times I just jump right into the computer without knowing exactly what I'm going to do.


I start to put those thoughts into paper. Yes, paper! Not photoshop nor maya. Pencil and paper!
I sketch, thumbnail the action and add notes. Whatever it takes to help me understand the action as clearly as possible.
I work on the poses and explore multiple options.
I try to find The Pose and work my way around that.
I'll also plan some breakdowns to define how to go from one pose to the other.
It is a good thing to spend some time in the planning stage. It's fast, cheap and it is like building a road map to the crazy journey that is animating in CG. The better the map the better the chances of not getting lost. And I have been lost before and let me tell you: it sucks!

3 - GO CG

After I have my map, I'm good to go into the computer.
I start posing my character using my thumbnails as reference.
At this stage I'm just posing my character one frame after the other. like: pose A = frame 1 , pose B = frame 2, pose C = frame 3 ... this way I focus on the poses and don't think about timing.
This is what I mean by focusing on one thing at a time.


Now that I have my poses I can start testing my timing. It's cool to use a pencil tester software like MonkeyJam. Instead of moving keys around I am working with flat 2d pictures much like a traditional animator.


I add more necessary breakdowns.


After adding more information (more breakdowns) I usually feel the need to adjust my timing.


Now it is usually the time when I jump into the graph editor and start polishing my animation.
Sometimes, I turn my curves directly into spline tangents, others I prefer to turn them into linear first.
The trick I think, is not to do too much at the same time ( one controller and one attribute at a time), I do this by starting at the character's root and moving my way down the hierarchy.
And I'm done!

This is the process I am using now. It's not the best nor it is the only way of doig things, but right now, my animation is really improving by working in this way. Maybe in a few years as I gain more experience, I'll have a completely different way of doing things and I'll look back at this post and think : "what a dumb ass" :)

I'll see if I can post some examples of my work with my next animation.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment.


Ricardo Silva

1 comment:

messytimbo said...

hey man your page is great. loved the bear animation, really funny.