Chapter 3: Animation For Dummies
OK, here’s where Deitch the teacher addresses a classroom of wannabes, laying down the basics. If you can’t get this stuff into your head, you might as well go into another line of work.
The best thing I could do to teach you how to make animated movies would just be to help you find your own way.
There are unnumbered ways to make animation. The only limit is your own imagination. When I was a young animator, in 1949, a mindless "veteran" of 10 years in the craft said to me, "Gene, when you've been in the business as long as I have, you'll know you can't get away with those kinds of crazy ideas!"
A lot of my "crazy ideas" of those days are already old-fashioned ideas today. I'm well over 55 years in the craft and I know that "crazy ideas" are what keep us all alive!
But there are some rules that do stay. They are basic to any kind of film or video animation. If you can learn just the basic rules of how to harness the technology that gives the illusion of life to still drawings or objects, and how to string together individual shots and scenes to tell a story, or create a homogeneous, meaningful sequence or mood, then you can use these rules in your own personal way.
The whole thing about making animated movies is to somehow find a way always keep in your mind the amount of time any action is going to play on the screen. You will of course be working incredibly slowly in comparison to the time your drawings, models, images, or whatever, will actually be seen. The one rule you cannot break is that 24 individual pictures go whizzing by on the screen each and every second.*
(In Europe, where 50 cycles per second is the electrical standard, the video and TV projection rate is 25 frames per second. The difference is visually undetectable. 24 frames per second is the internationally standard film projection rate, except for special presentation systems, such as IMAX.)
If you are going to make drawings, or move objects that will be registered one phase at a time, then each drawing or each phase of movement, has to have a number that indicates on which frame of film, or sector of tape, disk or memory chip it will be registered.
But how are you going to know which drawing goes with which frame or frames? Well, the answer to that will make the difference whether your movie will just move or whether it will seem to live!
I can tell you how to gradually find the answer. You have to start with the idea that you are an actor, a mime. You will need to have a stopwatch for timing. Nearly every cheap digital watch usually has a stopwatch feature.