Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New 'Toon, New Rules

I've started my next animation. I've picked the song, and made reference keyframes for the lyrics and beat. Above are some trial "looks" for the protagonist.

I learned a lot from animating I'm So Tired.
Here's some commandments I'll apply to this cartoon:

I. Thou shalt block in major shapes and movements before futzing around with details.
For example, than once I did the lip sync first and then discovered the timing or position of the character needed to change. I'd apply the changes and find the lip sync was off. Or I'd fall in love with a single drawing, only to find it didn't really fit into the animation plans.

II. Thou shalt design an animation friendly character.

Shorpy, as I came to call the purple guy, wasn't designed well.*

Flat, no eyebrows (big mistake!) and a basic "I'm sitting on fire ants" expression. (Okay, he was so tired, but still...). His face expressions and movement were limited. He was at his best when he was morphing into other characters.

III. Thou shalt remember looping animation and use it.
Some time-consuming animation from I'm So Tired zips by like a train, never to be seen again. If I had any sense I would have made more of the animated symbols play in continuous loops.

IV. Thou shalt make the first thirty seconds more interesting
I'm So Tired starts out calm and later goes berserk. I fear some viewers never saw the crazier parts because they thought He's just rocking back and fourth and complaining! and hit the back button. Any good story teller knows you should hook 'em up front.

Of course, I'm open to any additional advice anyone can throw me.

*I'm not saying he's a piece of garbage, just that in retrospect he could have been constructed better.


Linda said...

Love the colors you're using for your new character.

So interesting about the lip sync--so will you save it for last this time? You've mentioned the eyebrows before--is it that they help a lot with expression?

Looking back, what would you have looped in "I'm So Tired"?

I'm not sure I agree that the first 30 seconds aren't interesting. That clock!! It seems like you need to see the character and get to know him a little before he goes berzerk. But the morphing parts are hypnotic.

So glad you're starting another one!

stray said...

It's great you're starting a new one!!! Was just reading in "The Art Spirit" by Robert Henri about how important those intial large masses are before starting on detail and also the importance of eyebrows for expression....

Namowal said...

Thanks Linda,

I'll probably save the lip sync for last, if I do it at all. I think it may work better if the main characters aren't actually singing the song.

As for eyebrows (or, to be geeky about it, the combo of the upper eyelid, eyebrows,and the forehead muscles), they really help to lock in facial expressions.
Check them out on these Preston Blair drawings of Jerry.
I'm not sure which parts of "I'm so tired" I'd rework...
...but I'm still delighted that you like it.
Hi Stray,
Maybe I should look into this book you're reading. Sounds interesting!

Sally said...

Misc thoughts here:

You need a better main title-- it lowers expectations.

I think the Shorpy character works. Not sure you need eyebrows.

No matter how exciting you make those first 30 seconds it's going to be better later in the cartoon because you get into the whole rhythm and deeper concept of it as you go along. It's so hard to ever finish anything in Flash, esp. if you're not expecting to get paid for it, so don't be so hard on yourself at the outset. I think he's a little still at the beginning, but your focus was on the lip sync...

which you're realizing isn't that important, esp. with a song. When I started doing Sesame St. songs I thought it was weird they didn't want lip sync even though the character was obviously singing, but then discovered it worked fine. (Their reason was because of international versions.) Also people mumble, their mouths don't open shut like in cartoon manuals.

It works on the "Soo" as he walks thru the gallery.

Stop looking at Preston Blair now. He's a fabulous reference but I think you're past that and it hampers your unique style.

Sally said...

great that you're starting another one. Old style animation called loops "cycles" which didn't sound quite as reused. Beware of them in the wrong place, though, as sharp eyes do notice reused animation.

Since the comments page is separate from your post I forget what else you wrote.

Namowal said...

Thanks for the tips, Sally.
And to think I'd planned devote my weekend to studying Preston Blair characters.
I trust your judgement, and P.B. is going back to the shelf for now.

Sally said...

I hope I've given you the right advice re P.B. but I believe I have. Your style is developing uniquely and you have a good sense of movement already- FLY!