Animation is everywhere. We, as a civilized modern society are so accustomed to animation that whenever it is in front of us, we oftentimes fail to acknowledge the work that goes into even the simplest animated button.
There are many different methods of creating something like an animated button, just as there are even more methods of creating full blown animated cartoons like Pixar movies, episodes of South Park, and shorts starring Gumby.
Everything begins with a concept, which the developer—or animator – will build upon through storyboarding. The method may not come until later, unless of course the method is the reasoning behind the animation.
But whatever method and concept the animator develops, when the animation is complete, it will need to get in front of eyes.
Reading & Writing:
The final chapter of the book, “Animated Storytelling,” by Liz Blazer, focuses on ways to get your work in front of eyes and for the public to see.
Step 1, according to Blazer, is to package the project. Whereas in the past packaging meant putting the movie on a DVD, everything has gone digital and can be put on the web. The different elements of the package are a logo, title and still that encompasses what the animation is about, a synopsis describing the project, a director bio, and the story of the film and how it came together.
Step 2 consists of networking, Blazer explains, which involves plugging into online communities of artists, connecting with peers, seeking out like-minded artists, and then making sure you connect and engage with those people. Of course, networking does not only have to be online. Despite one’s hesitations of meeting people face-to-face, it can mean a world of difference when making long-lasting connections.
Now, you can send the package of goods to everyone, or you can be selective. It is completely up to you, Blazer says, if you are “as professional as humanly possible.” Go to festivals, knock on doors, and shake a few hands in the process.
Blazer says one more thing: “Never stop. Being an artist is a constant itch. After completing this project, you may need a day’s rest, but as soon as you feel that itch to create again, yield to it.”
I have already started thinking about my next project.
Research to Inform
This week I decided to investigate some advanced methods of animation, including taking a 2D image and making it 3D, or fading into scenes, dissolving images, and more. Here are a few examples showing what other artists have done using advanced techniques.
O-Ren Ishii – Kill Bill
This video is a bit graphic, but I love some of the things that were incorporated in the animation. The short of this video is O-Ren Ishii’s parents are killed while she was hiding under the bed. The simple use of the word “Whimper” coming from her mouth as whispers is powerful. There is also a scene at the 3:15 mark where a sword goes through the girl’s mother – I know, super graphic – and all you see is Oren hiding under the bed, the sword coming through the bed and a zoom in of Oren’s eye. The iris changes. Again, very powerful, the story is told wonderfully, and the techniques are spectacular.
Thor Ragnarök Ending
I am a huge Thor fan, so I have included the end credits for Thor Ragnarök. The use of stills and creating 3-diminsional images out of them is inspiring and goes along with this week’s lesson. The whole sequence is phenomenal.
HBO Opening Sequence
This whole semester, I have wanted to show this opening sequence that HBO use to play before every program, particularly, movies. I remember watching a short documentary when I was a kid, about how they made this intro. If I remember correctly, they had a set that they did stop motion with and panned a camera through the set to make it look real. Then the camera goes up into the sky and an animated sequence is played. I know this was from the 80s, but the techniques they used to piece this together were very advanced for their time. They are e even advanced to today’s standards.
This week I created a small PSA showing how colorful the beach is. While it may appear simple to some, I incorporated several elements that I learned this semester, including squash and stretch, gravity, staging, and anticipation.
The concept is that a skater ollies into a monochromatic scene, and when he ollies out, the screen switches to color. In the background there is a sunrise occurring, seagulls are flying, a sailboat comes to the foreground then fades into the background, then a beach ball bounces into the scene. The ending includes a slogan, the scene fades to black, and my name bounces into the scene from below, and fades out.
The images were drawn using Adobe Photoshop and several layers. Each element had a monochromatic version and color version. The person, boat, and faint seagulls were drawn by hand using the Microsoft pen. Once all the elements were in the .psd file, I opened the file up in Adobe Illustrator and converted it to a vector image. Once that was completed, I opened a new composition in After Effect and imported the .ai file.
I tried to incorporate several methods and elements into this composition. The hardest was the timing of sound, though I am happy with my result. The way the sound hits when the skateboard hits the ground, and the ball bouncing sound times to the ball took cutting and modifying in Adobe Audition.
When the skateboarder hits the ground, his body scrunches and pops back up. Then when he is ready to bounce out of the screen, he scrunches back up to ollie.
The sun is moved both in position and scale to make it feel more like a sunrise.
3D axis was used with both the birds and the sailboat. You may notice the sailboat slanting toward the boardwalk, and then away as it sails toward the horizon. This was done using the 2D image I drew of a sailboat and tweaking the z-axis. I also have the boat grow in scale as it approaches.
Then the beach ball squishes when it hits the ground.
I hope you enjoy the animation.
As this semester ends, I want to look back at some of the things I learned.
By profession, I am a writer and a storyteller. I have never wanted to be an animator because it looked far too difficult. This class has helped me see my potential and has included a new tool in my tool chest for telling stories.
Some of my favorite assignments over the past 7 weeks included the cinemagraph and logo. For the final project, I was going to incorporate my first assignment of a surfer dropping into a wave but decided the final project may be too busy at that point. The good news is I have the motive, now, to go out and improve upon that first animation.
If you are like me and decide to change professions in your 30s, only to find yourself in your 40s still chasing that dream, you may as well have fun on your journey and do something you will enjoy doing. This class and the skills I have learned helped reiterate that for me.
I am excited to be able to use these skills more often, and hopefully, one day, use them professionally.