Search form

Things you learn in animation school

3 posts / 0 new
Last post
Things you learn in animation school

1. Probably most important of all! Don't go to your pre-production pitch with a first draft animatic; you will spend the following two weeks of production time freaking out. Actually, even if you have a pretty neatly wrapped-up animatic at your pitch, you may still spend the next two weeks fixing/developing things, but it will be slightly less painful.
2. Locked-off cameras are TEH EBIL. Cameras move around a lot more than you might think. That said, don't move cameras just for the sake of moving 'em.
3. Use the 12 principles.
4. If you get stuck, don't hide at home and freak out! Bring your problems in to class. Teachers and classmates can help you shake loose some solutions; sometimes really simple/obvious ones.
5. All-nighters aren't much point if you spend the next day feeling miserable. Only do 'em in absolute desperation.
6. Copy, and copy well. Feed yourself the good stuff (visual, audio, heck even food), and incorporate what works for your project.

(I'd love for other people to add their thoughts and experiences to this thread! Currently in an empty directionless daze the day after the end-of-year screening :D )

--Don't compartmentalize. Things you do/learn at the start are relevant at the end. Everything is related. Example: those 15-30 second life drawing sketches are a big clue about how to animate your final film.

--Those sketches again: you can animate the entirety of your final film inside of an afternoon. Yes, a single afternoon. Don't do finished drawings. DO RUFF 15 sec. sketches. Get the ACTIONS and TIMING down, never mind the volumes. Shoot a test to see if the animation works, THEN go back and add volumes and make the drawings look pretty.

--Storyboarding is not your thing? Suck it up. Storyboarding is a PLANNING tool. Use it to work out your scenes layout, your actions/screen direction and camera work. Do two versions......a working 'board and a final pretty 'board. The working board can be an ungodly mess, with all kinds of scribbled notes, drawings done right thru the paper, multicoloured pencil lines over the same line.....use it for the animatic. The working board is where you work out ALL your problems beforehand. The pretty board can be done after........long after if you like and is just for the portfolio. If you do not understand how to make a working board........don't make a film.

-You'll hear a lot of " watch your structure" when getting critiques about drawing. it means that the object/character you have drawn doesn't look solid, that shapes do not follow-through behind lines or that there's unnecessary bumps and bulges on forms when they could be smoothed contours.

--"Watch your negative space" is another one......usually it means to add more variety to the spaces in and between forms. The problem is that a lot of developing artists have to unlearn a lot of conflicting BS from regular school, where conformity and consistency are drummed into their heads.
Instead of drawing three circles of the same size and spacing, the idea is to draw three circles of varying size and varied spacing.....and do that in a INTERESTING way. "Interesting" means they'll still be circles, and they'll still be spaced apart, but they will not be anything else. Take some circles: O o O and space them apart thusly and you get the idea. The variations of the sizes of the circles, and the spaces between them is what makes them interesting. This is using negative ( and positive) space.

--"Think design" is a third term you'll here......and it simply means using the above idea, and this likes lines and shapes, and a interesting and "consistent" fashion.
Consistent here does NOT mean mathematical consistency, where you have three small, three medium and three large shapes. It means that if you have a, for example "L" shapes design element that it TENDS to repeat ( in a generalized way) over and over again in the design. Generalized can mean the shapes are not rigid "L's" either, but can be greatly softened, and even vague, shapes.

--Don't forget the line of action.

--To expand upon getting stuck: if you have to spend more than 15 minutes of a drawing, and still cannot figure it out.......put it aside. Work on other sections-keep the working flowing. Bring the offending image to class and get the instructor to help out. Do NOT stall.

--"KISS" it. Keep it simple. Simple does not mean plain. "Simple" means do-able, manageable. A 30 second film, with 2 characters, a good solid idea and 5 layouts is far easier to manage than some 5 minute opus magnus with 12 characters, 53 scenes and 25 layouts.

--On camera moves: don't show off. Keep in mind an audience will watch the stuff. Too many camera moves can make the audience sea-sick ( yes it DOES happen). Move the camera deliberately, and carefully. Less can be more here.

--Anime needs to be animated THREE times. Every scene. Don't believe me? To pull off the traditional anime look, you need the basic animated object/character(1), a shadow level(2), and then a highlight level (3). There's a reason a lot of anime is simply held cels with simple staggers......

--An education is taken, not given. ASK QUESTIONS. TAKE NOTES!! Get your instructors talking. Get those "war stories" out of them. Write them down. Get demonstrations, then try the stuff yourself. Don't just make things cerebral ( just listening), make them PHYSICAL ( doing) so they cement into your neurology.

--Frustrated with something? Good, that is EXACTLY where you want to be.
Frustration is a sign your brain is looking for solutions. Little knowm secret of human psychology and biology: our brains are "wired" to answer EVERY question put to it....even if we have to make something up. Think about that for a moment.
There's an answer......a solution for EVERY problem you will ever face. Now, the trick here, to get this to work for you, is to ask a better more specific, more focussed question. Asking a global question like "why can't I do this" will get you the answer: " because you are stupid" or something like that. But asking a SPECIFIC question, such as " what exactly am I doing wrong here? What steps am I missing, or am doing incorrectly? Who is getting results where I am not? How are they going about things? When do they takes certain steps to get certain actions and do those steps jibe with my own procedures?"

Notice something about those questions? The global question starts with "why". The other questions don't. That is because the other questions start to break down the problem into more manageable chunks. Frustration is good for you , in this respect because the more frustrated you feel, the more emotional intensity you have the greater your brain will place that problem in priority. More emotional intensity means more of your personal resources will be applied to solving the problem. And you WILL get an answer to it.
If it not the answer you want.......ask a better......a different question. Trust me, this WORKS.

--Likewise: obsess. School is a place to geek out, to immerse yourself into the craft and the "culture" of the craft. You don't have to be anyone else......or anything else. Become a sponge, soak it all up.

--In the midst of the above though, don't just be a consumer. Being a fan is a good thing, a strong suit, but do not let it consume you. The idea of all this here is to turn you into a CREATOR. There's a line that separates the two--albeit a blurry one. A creator understands there's a point where consumption must be placed aside and production has to commence. The more "advanced" theory of this holds that a creator understands when creative productivity means doing things that might offend fannish sensibilities. Its part of the job.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Thanks so much Ken, I was hoping you'd chip in your 50 dollars' worth :D

Just thought of more:

- The production mantra: Hours in, seconds out! (as in, put in your hours, and get your seconds of animation)

- Construct your character's pelvis as a bouncing ball; everything else will fall into place.

- When all else fails....cover it up with clouds/camera work/ sparkles/ you get the picture :D

- Stillness is underrated. (I learnt this one a little late...)

- Audiences can forgive bad visuals more easily than bad sound.