Category: Process



Anime Studio 9.5 has a new feature that almost made me cry with joy: nested layer control. With this, and the enhancements of smart bones, I can now create better head turns! The way I did it before was adequate, but it still required me to tweak things around to make the head turn look decent. Now I don’t have to worry about it because I can change everything in just one Smart Bone Action. I started to build my new character, Sam, using this new technique.

I created this sketch during the summer time, but I was too busy with the other part of Bo the Creature that I didn’t quite have time to build the character. Here’s the initial design:

Initial Design

Initial Design

But looking at it now, the design doesn’t quite match with the character in mind. Sam is supposed to be more of a tough chick, a bit edgy, and definitely cold-hearted. Here is my second try:Sam closeupsam new

I also decided to go with simpler clothing.

This is not final yet, I think I might stick with this.

I did not create any expression actions like before, instead I am just going to use smart bones. It might seem like a lot, but I had a lot more action expressions.

Smart Bones

Smart Bones

The bones pretty much what they say. I just turned the dial and made some expressions. Together they work perfectly! It’s quite unbelievable actually. I was expecting so much problems, but it’s a lot better than expected! Very seamless. I’ll post a video sometime. If it wasn’t for the nested feature, I couldn’t have everything on one layer. I am really pleased with Anime Studio this time. Here are more shots:

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I haven’t created the body yet, but I will soon. I think that with smart bones, I will be able to create walk cycles as well by making my characters sway as they walk, something I haven’t been able to do before. So far the file is only 5mb! That is such a big difference from before! I noticed that the bigger file sizes lag more.

So far, I am pleased with my character. I like the style I made, but I notice it is a little more stylized than my other characters. That means I am going to have to make some adjustments. Also, I might make all my characters with smart bones because I think it is just so much better! All the hard work I put in before though :/ Oh well! I am aiming for improvement! Always!


When animating a character, a lot of animators observe subjects from reality to create particular movement. It could be from a live-action video, or even watching themselves in the mirror. Whatever technique they use, is fine, as long as the outcome is a believable. A believable animation, does not have to be realistic. It is important to distinguish the difference. The animator’s goal is to convince the audience of the character’s existence. If the animator manged to do so while still creating illogical movement, then the animation remains believable. When watching a cartoon, we might not realize that what we are seeing is not quite realistic, but still accept it because the structural work is below our threshold of awareness.

The animator’s work is to create movement that is a result of a character’s thought process, or a reaction to a stimulus. As long as the character’s weight and volume in space is consistent, the animator can get away with doing a lot of things. The key word here is consistent. Consistency is important throughout the whole animation. If you have been animating quite a realistic animation and suddenly bring cartoon violence, it will confuse the audience and it will start to ask questions, that don’t relate to the plot. As I have mentioned before, the animator’s goal is to convince the audience of the character’s existence. Rules need to be set up from the beginning, and need to be followed till the end. You can’t be selfish, and not think of your audience.

 

 


How to Let Your Hero Beat Your Villain – Villain’s Tragic Flaw.

Voiceovers


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Unless I want to end up with a silent film, I need voices for my animation. Unfortunately, I can’t hire voice actors, so I just need to learn on my own for now. I purchased a microphone recently and started to practice yesterday. I believed it was going to be easy. Boy was I wrong. I found that reading children’s books helps with my little girl voice however. After reading the same passage several times, I improved. I will try to do different voices to continue progressing. Everything else is much tougher. Especially making a guy’s voice. Even after I change the pitch, the voice I hear still sounds off. Really strange actually.

At first I planned on using a voice changing software, but I find that the quality of all programs do not meet my standard. It’s too bad since I actually liked some of the voices I got from it.

I played around with audacity’ s options, but none really seem to do what I want. I don’t know if it’s because there are limitations, since it is a free software after all, or simply because I don’t know how to use it. I am after all not an expert in the audio department.

I will try to find some good books to read, since YouTube hasn’t been much help. I guess I can’t rely on software after all. I actually wish I started voice acting earlier because learning in the short amount of time I have is going to be tricky. Nevertheless, I will persevere.

Story Development


Before you can start animating, you got to have a story to base your animation on. Without it, there is not direction, no end. I started my movie on an idea. When I began, I did not know where it was going, I just animated. But I know see that I did the wrong thing. By knowing where I was going to end, I could have planned a better beginning. Alas, it is too late. Not to say that the beginning of my story is terrible, but I cannot do much about it now. There is so much that goes into a story that I did not think of before I started studying how to direct it. I had my story before, but as I look back I realize that it is not a very captivating story and it doesn’t have a lot of suspense, and beats, things that are vital in a story. Really, what I should have done first, after deciding on a basic plot, was to develop clearly the antagonist and protagonist.

Crafting a villain is much more complex than I thought. It takes a lot of planning, and it is very important to know your character, especially his/her background, since it can affect the choices they make strongly. The appearances they have can have a great effect on how we perceive them, since we as humans tend to, unwillingly, judge others based on looks. I am still working on my villain for the story, which will completely change the direction. It is exciting, yet nerve wrecking at the same time. I have come up with so much ideas, that at times don’t seem to be enough, but at others too much to deal with. This doesn’t only apply to working on the villain, but for the story overall.

Brainstorming is an important aspect of story telling. I wish I had done more of that before.  I recently have been doing that a lot which caused me to modify things in the story, add and subtract. This project will be my first substantial story, so I don’t have too high expectations of myself. Hopefully it will all turn out well.


Characters are essential in a story. That is why it is imperative that yous pend a good of time developing them. Each should have a distinct personality that is memorable. Keep in mind that people have preconceptions, and judge people based on stereotypes, and physical appearances, even when they do not mean to do so. You can use this as an advantage at times. We all know stock characters such as the typical damsel in despair, mad scientist, or even the nerd. You can create a character and put him/her in a ironic situation. Doing that can capture the attention of your audience. If you have a tomboyish girl who suddenly decides to participate in a beauty pageant, it creates an unexpected situation. This could cause the audience to question the girl’s motif, guess the reason, and watch to see if they are right.

By giving your character a history, and explaining how he/she got to the way they are, it gives more meaning to the story. If your character is generally loud and obnoxious, then in a moment when he/she is quiet, it creates a great contrast.

You have to know your character inside out. Ask yourself the right questions. Start with the basics. The first one you should answer is “What is my character’s goal?” The answer will drive the character’s action and in turn the story. Other things you should figure out are name, age, location, hobby, fears, and qualities.

Basically, to create believable characters, start with an archetype, build on it, reveal the character’s motives, and show how they deal with their internal and external conflicts. Grill yourself with all possibilities until you are burned out. It is only after the development of the character is over that you should start designing your character.

Further reading:

  • Character Animation Crash Course by Eric Goldberg
  • Creating Characters with Personality: For Film, TV, Animation, Video Games, and Graphic Novels by Tom Bancroft

Good Questions:

Stage 1 – Planning


Do not do what I did and plan before you start! Having some sketches here and there is fine, but DO NOT create full character model sheets or rendered backgrounds. It is important to get ideas out where it can be seen, so I would recommend having a notebook or sticky notes around. Think of a story, or more, that will leave an impact on the audience. Something that will immediately grab the viewers’ attention perhaps. Or maybe a story that will get them thinking at the end. Speaking of the end, you can have one in mind and create events and situations that lead to it. It does not have to be concise, but it should be clear to some extent. Never mind about minor mistakes like punctuation or grammar. Focus on your plot instead. Everyone is different of course and some prefer using a computer, or tablet instead of writing on paper to generate ideas. It is imperative that you do what helps YOU be creative best and not be limited by ANYTHING.

This is what I wrote when I was planning for a part of an episode:

Scene 1

  • The scene starts with Farnham’s movie trailer. His logo is shown (incredible oddball) and the trailer starts. He looks at his views and gets very disappointed. He thinks of stuff to buy (bubble) looks at his wallet, checks the mirror out and leaves the house.
  • Farnham is looking through dumpster of movie producing company for stuff. Finds better hat. Bo crashes gets scared off by some cats. He runs and crashes into wall or something. and gets momentarily knocked out. Farnham spots Bo (same alley) pretends to be the nice guy. Pretends he can help bo but real intention is to report him to the city to get recognized and get money. But then when he gets home and looks around he realizes that he can use Bo in his movies and make a bigger fortune.

It is important to get other people’s input. They can give you suggestions that you might not have thought of before. If a person contributes a significant amount of ideas however, I think it is only fair to give them a little credit. Isn’t it?

Stages


I have not been able to find a clear step by step article or tutorial of what the animation process is. Since some people have asked me how it is done, I have decided to post at least one post a day about it. The title will be Stage_ and I will try to explain as clear as possible each stage of the process. Of course there are many ways to achieve something, but if you have no idea what to do, you can start here. Stay updated and subscribe if you haven’t done so yet!

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