Friday, 3 May 2013

2004/2005 - First year at uni - animation line tests

Line Tests

Being a complete beginner at animating by hand (or otherwise for that matter) my first line tests are rather, shall we say, they are kind of shady at best. Still I found certain exercises easier than others and ironically it seemed to be the so-called difficult one’s I was good at whilst the one’s we were meant to find quite easy I struggled with. Well, I couldn’t just tackle this in the ‘usually expected’ manner now could I?

Now for those not in the known the standard viewing rate for film is 24 frames per second, so that's 24 images for every second you see on screen. You can get away with a lower frame rate of 12 per second and things will still appear as though they are moving quite smoothly - I seem to recall we worked at this lower frame rate but am not 100% certain  it applied to all projects - it was a long time ago and alas my memory fails me!

  Anyway, point being, for these line tests we needed to create a minimum of 12 drawings for every second you see....though I distinctly remember it being more in some cases it could be because I made so many in-betweening errors that required correction!! We were given three days to complete each exercise, none of which I completed in the allotted daylight hours, yes, lots of nightly scribbling in the studio to meet deadlines and all for one tiny little snapshot. 

Sadly these files are terribly low quality and some of them seem to have got corrupted along the way. So I apologise in advance for making you squint, bear with it if you can, (full screen isn’t recommended) these are the best examples I could salvage of the first line tests we were instructed to create.

A bouncing ball

The first one we are all set to do, this was fun but frustratingly time/paper consuming to try and get the damned ball to roll to a stop! Oh and there was a simple floor line with small steps that you can't rightly see in this clip...just in case you were wondering why the ball makes a few funny jerks towards the end there :P

A flag wave and a sack drop 

Flag waves and sack drops are meant to be notoriously difficult, I actually enjoyed doing both of these and didn’t find either as tricky as the basic walk cycle.

The characterisation of this sack was an addition after I had completed the original task, I assume we were told to do that but I’m not entirely sure, seems like the kind of random thing I might tack on just because…

A basic walk cycle (human character)

Actually this is the first ‘attitude' walk, I put this in place of my first ever walk cycle as the video quality was so poor you may as well have been staring at a blank grey sheet. Both tests were fairly similar except in this one I’ve made him 'stomp' and included clothing/a ‘flag wave’ in his scarf as though he’s pressing forward on a blustery day.

A walk cycle with ‘attitude’

Gave up on humans after a while with this exercise and popped out this dinosaur in double-quick time, amazingly it turned out better than most of my human attempts.

A stretch and yawn

I remember this and the ‘lifting something heavy’ being horribly difficult and I think it shows, I found slow/subtle limb movements the hardest to achieve.

A run and jump, combined with ‘lifting something heavy’

I liked doing the run and jump part, the lift not so much.
No idea why I made the character a pirate kid either.

An animal walk cycle

We did animal tests last of all as they were supposed to be trickier than human walk cycles. Apparently this means I’ve spent far more time watching animals move than I have humans as I found these easy in comparison.

It should be noted that when I say ‘easy in comparison’ I really mean it as there is nothing I found particularly easy about creating animation at all!

An animal run cycle

 I remember this being fun, a chance to play with colouring and I was pleased at the second soft pencil rendering of this springy cheetah.

So whilst my initial line tests were not too bad for a complete beginner I think I concluded by the end of year one that I’m not an animator but a concept/background artist. I deduced then that layouts, concepts and backgrounds are the areas that best allow my strengths to shine and fortunately are also the fields within animation production that interest me the most – hooray!

1st year note on grad films
Now ickle first years aren’t really meant to work on the graduation films however the third year students are so busy and pushed to meet deadlines that first years are often employed to do the odd job or three on their precious films. I was lucky enough to work on a film titled, ‘The Garden House,’ in my first year. I didn’t do a great deal but had my first taste of the joyous job that is ‘clean-up.’ Now this is a painstaking trace process from the original animation and actually a very important task since it is the clean-up artists’ lines that will appear in the final animation, but boy-o-boy is it dull as dishwater to actually do! Still I was most grateful for the opportunity and pleased as punch to be able to help my peers. I would link you to a video of the final film however it doesn’t seem to be on YouTube anywhere and my hard copy is…yep once again you guessed it, it’s still in England!

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