Frame Rate Shame Rate

I often see students asking about frame rates on blogs and forums. "What frame rate should I use when doing my student animation?" That sort of thing.

My new job is the first commercial one I've had working at 30 frames per second, and it has reminded me that it just doesn't really matter. You see your goal when learning to animate is not to remember how many frames it takes to do this or that, that's going to limit your vocabulary as an animator big time. And if it was really useful then the net would be full of long lists that dictate how many frames (at different frame rates) it takes to animate all the possible actions you might ever have to animate. Boy howdy, wouldn't that take the fun out of things, and make for some very predictable animation.

The skill you should be working on is your critical eye. Have a stab at the timing, knowing from the outset that you are unlikely nail it first go, then watch it and ask yourself how well it matches the idea you had in your mind. Critique it! Then set out to make the changes needed to get it working. Making animation is a process, not an event.

Why would you listen to the mathematician in your head, when timing is an opportunity to listen to the artist inside. Who cares about the frame rate, just make it good! Easy HA! ;)


Frank said...

Gah! Dagnammit Ian. Just when I was getting a 'feel' for things like jumps being about 9 to 13 frames at 24fps. It was that Richard William clip where he picks different walks at different frame counts (working in a 24fps time base) that sent me thinking that way.

For me it's nice to know a starting point walk is about 1 step per second. It matches a relaxed heart rate. I can work on the variations from that starting point.

I think it is good to act it out and time things when watching others acting out physical movements.

For students just starting out, who need something to grasp, as they are developing their sense of timing, which gets them to a starting point, I think frame-by-frame counting examples of work they want to aspire to is a good idea just to get to a starting point, to then start adjusting the frames along the timeline to see what works best.

Eventually though, I'm not there yet, when the concept of timing and spacing starts becoming a 'feel', a process that doesn't take as much conscious maths and lots of planning and reference watching, that is where we should aim as animators (and Ian and I will meet and agree 100%) :)

Alonso said...

There's lots of different ways people think of their timing. The old school guys often thought by metronome beats, or film feet, or other things. The world is so small now you never know if you're gonna be working at 12fps, 15fps, 24fps, 25fps, 30 fps, 60fps, if you're doing games or film or video or internet or who knows.

Personally I prefer to think of things in terms of seconds (1/2 a second, 1/4 of a second) that way it doesn't matter what fps I'm working at. When I was greener I had a regular stopwatch that I would time people doing motions (cycle of a walk, standing up, opening a car door and getting in)

Sadly the only real way to learn a sense of timing is to animate enough that you build up experience knowing how things feel. So get back to your 60 frames :)

Ian said...

Sadly?!?! Sounds like fun to me :)