Want to get better at animation?

Hey everyone, hope my ramblings are useful to some of you ;)

Here's something you can do to improve your skills, and you don't even have to animate ... give critiques. The easiest part of your animation abilities to build up is your eye.

You've heard the stories about animator's pulling in the janitor to look at their latest stuff? That's because every single human has been studying motion for their entire lives. So none of that "I'm not qualified to give critiques yet" excuses, our audience is everyone (not just other animators) as long as you have vision then you ARE qualified to critique. Critique's don't have to be long and elaborate, even quick little comments can unlock a puzzle.

The reason to give critiques is it will help you. The more you critique the stronger your eye gets. With a strong eye you'll be able to objectively see your own work, so when you're ready for a critique from someone else it'll be about making your shot sing instead of just fixing fundamentals to get it to acceptable. Practice at analyzing why things don't work and brainstorming ways to improve them directly will work just as well on your shot as someone else's. And the more critiques you give, the more will come back to you (like tag)

Eric has a great article on how to present your critiques in an easy to hear way. But what do you actually say? Ask yourself these questions:

1) Does it look like believable motion? (if you are new to critiquing, this may be as far as you can get, which is fine, just hearing "it doesn't feel believable" can help)

2) If it doesn't feel right, can you say why? (is it the way things move from pose to pose, is the problem isolated to only some body parts, are the arcs not clean? this is where the more critique's you give the more you improve this skill)

3) What is the animator's intention? (as an animator it's useful to know what people think you are trying to say, it can help you make decisions for better clarity)

4) What might help? (ways they could make their intent more clear, or their animation more natural. the longer you animate the more tricks you have you can share)

Warning, your eye will improve faster then your animation abilities will, which can drive you nuts. You may have upgraded your animation abilities to level 2 but now you have lazer precision level 8 eyes. But of course, with level 8 eyes you can analyze why your animation isn't working and hoist it up, and before you know it your a level 10 animator (of course your eyes will now be level 20 :P ... just keep swimming, just keep swimming)

So recap: 1) does it feel right? 2)why not? 3)what's the point? 4)things to try.


Frank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank said...

That should have read... Alonso what a great post. Feeding off Eric's compliment sandwich!

I can feel the ARC shifting up a gear. There is some sizzle in this sausage.

It looks like it won't just be Ian and eye ;) debating animation ideas.

Frank said...

Any animation students surfing past, go to the 11 Second Club web site and practice your critiquing by voting on the entries for the April competition.

Ian said...

Great post Alonso :)

Reminds me of my classic cleaning lady story. (Sorry to any ex student who have had to endure this before over and over):P

When I was animation lead at Oska I used to get in early before the other animators (best time to get some work done in peace), I often used to ask the cleaning lady (her name was Die) what she thought of my animation.

She was great to ask because she would just express her blunt reaction. Something like, "biy she's happy isn't she?" or "wow thats a fast one!" I would then compare what she said with my goals for the scene. Maybe I was shooting more for amusment than outright happy. Sometimes here reaction would be completely different to what I wanted, and I would know I had more work to do.

Its not a line of my own, and I can't remember where I read it, but I love this, "Its not the message we send, but what the listenner dose with our message that determines our success as communicators." Animators are communicators, and how are you ever going to understand what the listeners (or audiance) are doing with your messages if you don't listen to what they have to say.

There is also the fact that teaching something is one of the best ways to learn more about it, because it forces you to clarify and articulate your ideas.

Give critiques and seek them out for your own work. You will be all the richer for it :)

Oh... one thing to be carefull of. Don't make a habit of asking people who a trying to protect your feelings (best friends, loving family members etc). They may not be willing to say what needs to be said for fear of hurting your feelings. See if you can find people who are willing to really sink the boot in ;)

Frank said...

I am learning a lot teaching animation.

I think animators should consider some teaching time in their animation careers. It will give them a boost along toward achieving their goals.

car2ner said...

Nice blog! See also human frame-by-frame animation on the bed