I chose animation as my minor on account of the fact that I had never done it before. I wanted to push myself and perhaps add something new to my skillset that would be useful in the genre of games I’m predominantly interested in making.
I began this journey by asking a lot of research questions covering the basis of what I thought I needed to know about animation (Sketchbook 2 page 1) and trying to find the answers. I filled in most of the gaps in my knowledge about animation in terms of key frames and frames-per-second.
I broke down a movement from the short film Afternoon Class (2017) to discover the different techniques used per frame.
Next I spent a lot of time watching different types of animations in order to glean information about the effects of different techniques and see whether there was a particular one I wanted to imitate.
Coda (2015) struck me immediately as a style that I might like to imitate, with a simplistic art style and a memorable animation style featuring a low frame-rate and exaggerated movements.
Kagemono: The Shadow Folk (2012) is a beautifully animated short film with a style reminiscent of Disney, which features a hand-drawn, pencil texture art style which I could imagine being replicated in the game.
Thought of You (2011) conveys immense emotion with exaggerated movements and the use of multiples (drawing an object multiple times in a single frame) implies fluid and fast movement.
Above is my first attempt at animation, using a short piece of movement from Thought of You after having searched for a long time for a piece of software that would allow me to string frames together on an iPad. I played the short film at quarter speed in order to glean an idea of what the key frames and extremes of the movement were, and played the animation at 12 frames-per-second – the same frame rate as a lot of my favourite pieces found in my research. I didn’t want to computer generate any frames, which made the process time consuming but I was relatively happy with the results of this basic first attempt.
Further experimenting yielded disappointing results. The above walk cycle was based on a running movement from Coda, but I used the “straight ahead” in which I drew the whole animation from start to finish, and meant I couldn’t properly predict what the finished movement would look like. At this time I was extremely disheartened and frustrated by the amount of time I was putting into this venture and the finished products I was creating.
I went back to the drawing board, watching a video about the 12 principles of animation, (see below video and sketchbook 2 pages 9-12). I realised that often some frames need to look peculiar in order to create an effect for the entire movement, considering they only take up a fraction of a second even though I was spending minutes creating the frame.
I started adding these principles to a double-jump animation, finding “squash and stretch”, “anticipation”, “pose-to-pose”, “follow through” and “slow in/slow out” to be most applicable to the style I was trying to imitate/create. Using these, I managed to create my Prototype 1 (below) which I was extremely pleased with.
I had managed to achieve precisely what I liked about the other animation styles I’d studied – a slightly shaky animation that looked almost like a story-book, which I believed suited the art style I’d decided upon through my character and environment development.
My second prototype threw up some flags as to what I need to personally improve upon. I am aware that I need to practise extremely over-exaggerating the movements of my characters in order to truly achieve that dynamic, stylised effect I envy in the work of others. I have a long way to go, but I’m really pleased with the progress I have made.