Many of us are enjoying the art form of animating on the computer. No longer are expensive cameras and stacks of drawing paper needed to complete a vision of animated character. For a few hundred bucks we can strive to join the ranks of Pixar or Disney and create our own animated film. With this freedom however we often forget that the computer like everything else that appears to save us time can create as many problems as it solves.
As easy as it is to find a cheap and suitable animation package, it’s just as easy to set a few keys frames. I see many young students and animators who’ll set two or three keys then call home to their mom and say “Hey mom, I’m an animator.” With that being said we simply state SETTING KEYFRAMES DOES NOT MAKE YOU AN ANIMATOR. Animation is the study of motion and emotion. It’s creating a convincing character that the audience loves or hates. The computer allows animators to do this very well as evidenced by some of the great computer animated films and characters that have come out in the last few years. But not surprisingly the ease at which artists can make characters move is creating a lot of animation that lacks those necessary qualities that makes animation great.
As many of you know, when we set keyframes in our animation software the program interpolates the actions between them. Basically, the “computer” is acting as an in-betweener. This sounds great doesn’t it? We can set a few poses then hit the render button and everything is moving around. We’re animating right? Not so fast.
This is where the computer starts to take control over the decisions WE should be making. The machine wants to create those in-between poses, but it’s not considering things like physics or motion and it is certainly not smart enough to understand human emotion. It’s basically doing what computers do best… it’s finding the fastest way to solve the equation. It’s moving our characters from point A to point B as well as it knows how. This more often than not isn’t the result we are looking for.
All in all, the general rule to animating effectively on the computer is that it is better to set MORE than LESS keyframes to create something that will come alive. This is not to say that you need to go crazy and have all the controllers or joints of your character keyframed at every frame. We are simply pointing out that in order to create animation people will respond to, be conscious of what YOU can do to create that believability. Be vigilant in your approach to keyframing. By the time you are finished with a scene, all of the choices in how your character is animated are controlled by your own decisions. Once you begin to implement this approach into your animation you will begin to create characters that even your mom would be proud of…. and then and only then…. can you call her and say that you are an animator. After all these information, if you want to know more about professional animation and visual effects, click here. Good luck.