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Does vector pose limitations

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Does vector pose limitations

For a long time I have gone back in forth between using vector and pixel based animation software. In the vector world, I have only used Anime Studio Pro, not being a fan of Flash, and having never tried Toon Boom Studio or others. I have often felt that there is a type of animation where the vector software really shines, while there are other types where pixel based solutions seem ideal. To put it most basically, it divides between animation that necessitates the drawing of every new frame, versus animation that can benefit from pushing and pulling vectors.

Using American television animation as an example, the typical "sit com" style animation of shows like The Family Guy or The Flintstones seems like an ideal environment for the use of vector animation. On the flip side, a very pose intensive show like Avatar: The Last Airbender seems to all but require pixel based animation. (or traditional animation on paper of course) This could further divide the ideal uses, of each type of software, between dialogue based animation and action based animation.

Dialogue based animation lends itself very well to vector software because it basically lacks two things, dynamic camera angles and dynamic poses. The fact that the story is driven by what the characters say, rather than what they do, means it doesn't matter if the characters are often seen from the same, near profile, camera angle in every scene. The characters also don't need to swing from ropes, leap over buildings or shoot fireballs. For this reason, building the characters as a type of "rig" in vector software makes for a small, upfront investment with a large payoff in being able to animate many scenes very quickly and easily.

Action based animation lives and dies on dynamic camera angles and poses. The characters are almost always seen from a new and dramatically different camera view. The characters may also need to do kung fu, shoot guns, or perform amazing acrobatics. This often requires the need to draw a completely new image for each frame of the character's motion. Although it is certainly possible to do so in vector animation, this process can actually slow the work down, rather than speed it up.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. We have seen vector based works from the likes of Grey Kid Pictures, on their La Reine Soleil (Princess of the Sun) film some years ago. Using vector software, they achieved feature quality animation with quite a bit of action. Other examples of their work contain similar feats of pushing the limits of vector animation. They have, however, also written that to accomplish this required a considerable upfront investment in building character rigs that may rival those used in full 3D animation. Still, they leave no question as to whether or not it can be done.

So what do you think? Has the software ever stopped you from doing something you wanted to do? Have you ever felt the need to adapt your ideas or plans to fit the software?

the benefit vectors have over images is it looks the same regardless of distance. that is a very big difference. that was the first thing that drove flash to prominence. images can be converted vectors and the other way around

Just like any medium, it's not so much that vector animation is limited, as it is better suited to certain types of animation styles. Where Flash and the other vector programs excel is in the use of symbol assets and and re-useability. This makes Flash perfect for TV series, if the style warrants it. With a Flash pipeline there is a lot of front end work, developing cycles, poses, head turns, mouth and eye pack, and the like. As the series goes on, the library of assets and actions grow, and the animators have more to choose from. This is Flash's strength. Lots of different dynamic camera angles? Not so much. Not to say it can't be done. Think of anime, like Ghost in the Shell: Stand alone Complex. Characters will stand around and not move while they talk for five, ten minutes. Then they'll get to a one minute action scene and the animation is amazing. It's all a matter of where you want to spend the money. You can animate traditionally in Flash, but you aren't taking advantage of it's strengths.

So it's not so much about limitations, as it is about what you want the style and look of the show to look like.

the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

animated ape Im surprised you have seen ghost in the shell. pleasently surprised, but ghost in the shell is a little high to be shooting for. I mean you have to have a pair on you. to tackle the subject matter that series does. with multiple storylines on top of that. and they deliver

but with conversations. when adults are talking about serious subject matter they dont a lot of moving around. thats actually right, being able to have it come across as interesting is the challenging part

two more series you might find interesting claymore and cannan. both dramas, best watched with original voices and subtitles. to many things are lost in the dubbed versions

I'm not a fan of re-use overkill. Having done two Flash projects and some pre-production on a third, I know there are people out there who know how to re-use certain elements and animation very effectively. When in doubt, though, I'm the kind of Flash animator who prefers coming up with a new approach to a kind-of-similar bit of animation rather than trying to shoe-horn something from the library in. Of course I like to re-use standard elements as symbols so I won't have to redraw theme very time but my general approach is to build poses re-using as many elements as possible and then animating the really important or expressive bits from scratch. Mostly arms, hands and expressions, that is.

That said, I think symbol-based animation works best for stylised animation. Today's designs, especially for TV animation, tend to be graphic and flat and in combination with the right kind of layout that can totally work as an artistic statement. With such styles it doesn't matter so much if certain body parts, expressions and poses get reused.
I've seen 'fuller' animation attempted in Flash with the symbol-based approach, though, and usually the fact that you're dealing with cut-out puppets tends to stand out more the more elaborate or realistic the designs become.
One might argue now that especially in the case of anime which tends to switch between long and static shots and frantic action scenes it should be possible to mix the two methods of hand-drawing scenes in which bodies move dimensionally in space and handling static dialogue in a more cut-out way. However, we tried that on one project and it was difficult from a software angle. The most seamless results are achieved by sticking with one program or software package. We tried combining ToonBoom scenes and Flash scenes and the test renders we did of certain scenes showed a noticeable difference in the picture quality around which we had to work.
So my advice would be, know what you want to achieve graphically, choose your tools based on that and know your tools well.

I always thought the decision came down to dimensions and weight. You use vector when the dimensions aren't set and you wish to remain scalable, and byte weight is a restriction. If bytes aren't a problem and you know your ultimate dimensions go pixel and throw every special effect into the mix. If it doesn't quite work you do like the "flicks" and blurr and darken. People are already squinting so what? They won't notice the holes.

Even pixel based animation reuses assets.

What vector can do is lossless scalability. What pixel based creation can do is add a lot filters and special effects pretty easily.

So what do you think? Has the software ever stopped you from doing something you wanted to do? Have you ever felt the need to adapt your ideas or plans to fit the software?

Sure tools always have their limitations.

Pat Hacker, Visit Scooter's World.

two more series you might find interesting claymore and cannan. both dramas, best watched with original voices and subtitles. to many things are lost in the dubbed versions

I checked out a couple of clips of these shows and they look promising. I will have to give them a viewing. I am really missing out. I never heard of either of these. I had thought pretty much everything descended into the moe style and that dark dramatic works were left in the past.

to phacker vectors can have effects just not as many as an image.

to artfx, its just not possible for anime to become one thing, there are too many people that do it. adults that take it very seriously. a viewing audience that expects depth. moe has become another character type to be thrown into the mix, and honestly is being used quite creatively. with misdirection

an example is steins gate. the first few episdoes are entertaining, very enjoyable but then it becomes a completely different series. no less enjoyable but a great deal darker. and you cannot see it coming

Vector vs. bitmap and "points of no return"

Hello All

Though this is not really a vector vs. (flat) bitmap discussion I would like to give a production technical angle on this subject.

Imagine the production is running well when the producer suddenly finds out that to follow the latest crazy trend, the hat of the main character has to change shape, otherwise the final film will be a total flop and an economical disaster. 900 scenes has to be redone. Should the production fold or redo the 900 scenes?

If this was done (the right way) with vectors it would be possible (not necessarily easy though) to change this without redoing ALL the work, where as with flat bitmaps most of the work would have to be redone completely.

A paint stroke in flat bitmaps would create what we call a "point of no return". You can not "simply" go back and move some vectors around to make changes in case of a re-take.

Before you start your production, try to identify potential "points of no return" and see if you can avoid them or ask someone experienced about it. There are many more than just those for your drawing software.

Think of this and consider the cost of each "point of no return" for your production, before you choose your tools.


HoBSoft Automated animation workflow for feature and tv-series

animated ape Im surprised you have seen ghost in the shell.

And why does this surprise you? I think as an animator, or any kind of artist, you should watch other styles of animation and art not just what you favor. You can always learn something. And yes I've watched Claymore.

Like I was saying, you can do it, but it wouldn't be the best use of the program.

the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."