Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Looking at style not process- the hiccups of the student

 I should back this up with a little back story: I went to a screening of of a beautiful animated movie (Secret of Kells) with an old animation colleague (we were students together) and his students from the same course that we both took back in the day (not that I'm old mind you). 

I noticed even afterwards the students took away the styling which seems odd, as apparent as the nose on your face. Styling is only there to further storytelling:

(for example in "Who framed Roger Rabbit?" Bob Hoskins was addressing a wall and forgot how small the rabbit was. They only had a small time to get the movie out and so they really couldn't shoot that piece again. They decided since the rabbit is clearly paranoid that they could squash him against the wall therefore increasing his height twice fold.)


I really did enjoy the detailing, but I noticed that the colours were there to show the dramatic or calm scenes. The difference in height of the characters meant that you could see the power play at work before they even spoke, even the different nationalities meant even when they were pushed together on screen they didn't get lost. Also the detail in the framing of the shots meant that the viewers eyes get directed to the middle of the screen. I really liked the animation on Pangur Bán (the cat) as in that usually with quite stylised animation usually style wins over trying to show character or extremes of movement. 


But I digress, Style is not process; nor is something that will win you a lot of marks (only animating "anime" style is not going to get you a job in anime since it's only the way you animate that matters). Style holds hands with how good you are as a storyteller, coupled with how good are you as a mimic/copycat/actor. You still have to show personality, give a reason to be empathetic with "your" characters and understanding that the audience needs clear idea of the concepts or the story to follow the story that you are trying to portray. 

Too long do students play with the idea of styling, cameras and lighting. Scaring them in to a  complacent role in their "job" of animating;
  • So much so that they don't start story-boarding/capturing live action early enough, 
  • Rush through the first key defining aspects of tying down the animation to animating one week before deadline, 
  • Do not give themselves the leeway of throwing the whole animation away if they don't like it (for whatever reason) or starting back from whatever save that they are happy with
  • Do not give themselves a couple of hours (or day/s of playing with the scene to push the concepts/body language/personality) to tweak what is already looking non fluid and muddy,
  • Have no concept of the arcs and beats being something that should be planned in story-boarding/penciled dope sheet 
  • Then hand it in with a attitude that "It was all I could do in that allotted time frame" without realising that they have in themselves essentially made the process/workflow a lot harder for themselves and also sabotaging getting themselves a career in a very competitive industry.
This is not to say that anyone/everyone is not free of this and this is why animators are so interested in other animators workflows or animation techniques to make sure that they don't get caught up in the self perpetuating cycle of doom ("why I am I doing this/everyone is better animating than me/my animation looks crap or I didn't have enough time to finish/such a failure no good animator") . 

If you are a student or starting animating, I am not attacking you personally and this is a perspective that I see, being a "non-student" of animation for quite a while now (doesn't mean that I have stopped learning or stopped not loving an art form that is amazing even in this day and age). All I am trying to say to you is if you haven't got to the stage of not repeating the steps above then break the cycle, it's not a fun place to be in (I know) and that's why I'm trying to help you.

Until next time, Happy animating!
Cassie
 


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