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Sunday, January 25, 2009

How to Animate (Part 1)

How to Animate
By Teresa Carr

The history of animation goes as far back as 1826 with the Thaumatrope, which was a paper disk with strings fastened to opposite ends. When the disk was whirled, the bird on one side of the card appeared in the cage on the other side. The Phenokistoscope developed in 1832 had two revolving disks. When the disks were whirled, an observer looking through slots in one disk saw pictures on the other disk appear to move. The Praxinoscope developed in 1877 by Frenchman Paul Renault, had a mirror with several sides in the center of a cylinder. When the cylinder rotated, the pictures on it were reflected in the mirror and seemed to move. In 1887, Thomas A. Edison began to work on a device to make a series of pictures appear to move. He did not succeed until 1889, after the American inventor George Eastman developed strips of flexible celluloid camera film. A series of pictures could be photographed on this film and moved rapidly. With the assistance of William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, Edison developed two machines that made use of Eastman’s film. The kinetoscope was a device taking a series of photographs. The kinetoscope was a cabinet with 50 feet of film evolving on spools. A person could look through a peephole in the cabinet and watch the pictures move. The first kinetoscope went on display in New York City in 1894. The first animated cartoon was Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willy in the 1920’s. Animations are an important part of the motion-picture industry and in television. Animated cartoon characters such as Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse were very popular during the World War II era. So much so that Disney’s Donald Duck was use by the government to sell defense bonds. The armed forces used animated cartoons in training films. Animated cartoons are used widely in Advertising and T.V. commercials. The first American animator was J. Stuart Blackton in 1906 invented the first projector created moving animation by drawing humorous face on a blackboard. In 1890, Emil Cole was the first to experiment with film and trick photography. George Lucas credited his work with Emil Cole. Known truly as the modern father of animation was Winsor McCay in 1909 animated “Little Nemo in Slumberland” in dream sequence. His “Gertie the Dinosaur” used some four thousand drawings. Disney credits the cavemen of prehistoric times of being the first animators, proof of it is in Lascaux. Other first in animations were toys like flapbooks (flipping papers with sequenced drawings clipped into a book). J.R. Bray created the first animation studio. Harold Hurd revolutionized the way animation moved. Many animators followed with full-length cartoons. Some well known ones on the early 19th century was Pat Sullivan creator of “Felix the Cat.” Cartoons then took a second step when sound was introduced. Pat Powers creator of the sound machine added sound dimension too “Flip the Frog” series. Ub Iwerks head animator for Disney creation “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” (1928) later evolved into Mickey Mouse and starred in his first sound released animation of “Steamboat Willie.” Later Ken Iwerks used Mickey Mouse in full-length cartoon productions of “Plain Crazy” and “Galloping Gaucho.” In the early years of animation, after Disney many other animators in the time animation was emerging Walter Lance created a character by the name of Woody Woodpecker. Max Fleischer was the creator of Betty Boop and Popeye. Animation has evolved from simple drawings and mechanisms to large-scale computer generated 3-D technology br leaps and bounds. In the late 1990’s, after the success of such films like Babe and Ants animation has been growing and developing ever since. Animation has even taken a step from the page to other media such as Claymation in the features like the Meet the California Raisins and Creature Features.

The Animation Process
When putting together an animated cartoon series must go through several processes to get successful takes in making animation film or show. The steps in preparing an animated cartoon are as follows:
  • § The story develops the basic ideas for combining pictures, music, and voices to tell the story.
  • § The Animator keeps his original sketches close while drawing portraits of the main figures in the animation story.
  • § The Layout Man works out problems of framing the action on the background.
  • § Inking in the Outlines for figures, an artist draws successive positions of a character’s movements on individual sheets of clear celluloid.
  • § Painting in the Colors, another artist repeats the color schemes already chosen fro the character’s costume in any sequence of the film.
  • § The Background Artist, puts final touches on one of the elaborate backgrounds for an entire sequence.
  • § The Composer works out music timed to fit the scenes of the completed film. The voices must also be timed to fit.
  • § The Cameraman shoots pictures, one at a time, of the characters moving in front of the background.
  • § The Film Editor checks the final cartoon to make sure that action and sound come together.

Animation Mechanics
Timing is everything in great animation. This ability to applying “timing” and “drawing” is the secret to animation. The steps to animation is getting an idea for a story, then followed by writing a script. The animation is then planned on the storyboard a comic strip form of seeing a movie. The next step are the layouts that explain the scenes, which are done in pencil drawing. Voices and music for lip-syncing are recorded. All recording are placed on exposure sheets. After the animation work, then it is shot. The exposure sheet consists of 11x17 for 4 seconds long animation and 8-1/2x14 4 second short animation there are 96 lines using multiples of 2 for 8, 16, 24 length frame animations 8=1/3 second, 16=2/3 second. Changes are then made to the workprint consisting pencil tests, twicking, and correcting. These are sent to ink and print. The drawings are Xeroxed onto cel. These are sent to the cameraman to shoot the drawings one frame at a time. The number of frames on film runs 24 frames/second. The number of frames on video runs 30 frames/second. The film standard is about 12 drawings/second. To complete one second of film for 24 frames/second to make 12 makings/second shooting two drawings twice. The equation is 24 frames/second x 2 shots=12 drawings.

The following chart is the number of frames corresponding to the timing measurement used in animating a character and scene.
4 frame1/6 second
6 frame¼ second
8 frame1/3 second full beat
12 frame½ second
16 frame2/3 second
24 frame1 second

The basic exercise is the classic bouncing ball with a maximum of 24 drawings. You begin with a key pose or pose planning, then plan the extreme positions in an action. These key poses are used to animate scenes that involve repeated cycles in a path of action. Animate scenes of drama with the key gesture poses. Line of action is an imaginary line extending through the main action of the figure. Plan your figure and details to accentuate this line.

(Next time)
Types of animation.
There are 3 types of animation. They are limited, artistic, and full. There are three basic patterns. They are horizontal lines and vertical called stability; diagonal lines or zigzag create tension; and spirals create motion and actions.

Books and Software:
Blair, Preston J. How to Draw Cartoon Animation. Walter Foster Publishing Inc. 430 West Sixth Street. Tustin, CA 92680-9990. call 714-544-7510.
Blair, Preston J. How to Animate Film Cartoons. Walter Foster Publishing Inc. 430 West Sixth Street. Tustin, CA 92680-9990. call 714-544-7510. (companion book #190 to How to Draw Cartoon Animation #26)
Foster, Walter. Anatomy #21.
Franks, Leon. Characters #62.
Loomis, Andrew. Figures in Action #191.
Powell, William. Perspective #AL13(Artist’s Library Series).
Miller, Kirk. Landscape Workshop #216.

Maya. Alias Wavefront.
Lightwave. Newtek.
Strata 3D.
Zbrush. Pixologic.
Flash (for the Internet). Macromedia.

©2007. Teresa Carr. Skyhouse Communications & Mega Grafx® Studio.

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