Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I Have No Head! (tastes great!) I Have No Head! (less filling!)

This is my favorite part of the animation process. When I throw all the colored Photoshop files into an After Effects Comp at once, and it looks all crazy.
This is how the episode is looking right now. We've got all our shots laid out, but are still adjusting things and waiting to put in the backgrounds and lip synced heads. So until all of that is finished- it's just a bunch o' headless people standing around.
But this is what all of the tedious pre-production helped us accomplish. Now that we have head libraries for each character, animating and coloring the actual shots goes a lot smoother. Like with the shot above, all I had to draw was Mark's shoulders and neck. And for the running shot featured at the top of the post, I didn't have to redraw the head over and over, which helps a lot when you have to color little facial details.

If this shot were fully animated, I would have had to drawn each frame of the run with different mouth positions to match up with the sound track. But with this head system, I can just slug on a profile head from Mark's library, and turn off and on mouth layers in After Effects to make him talk. And if the timing or dialogue changes, I don't have to redo any drawings. Plus, I can now reuse the run cycle in another episode even though Mark might be saying something completely different.

This isn't a new idea, cartoons use short cuts like this all the time. If a character is standing and talking, they'll just draw the body and hold that frame while they animate the head or arms. Some TV shows which are animated within the United States use extensive character libraries in programs like Flash or After Effects to cut down on actual drawing time and save money. This can produce mixed results of course, but I think shows like South Park are a pretty good example of what can be done.

Anyways, I'm not saying animation should be made cheaper and quicker, but when you're just two dudes in Queens trying to animate a cartoon- you take short cuts. Sort of. How many months have we been working on this?

10 Yard Fight & Robot Rights


Kittrick said...

I'm so excited for RDCCDX. It's awesome getting a look into the process. It's really neat to get an understanding of how much work really goes into animation.

Ben said...

Awesome. As you can see, the first episode of the mini saga should be done soon. So, I hope we don't disappoint.

It's good to hear these animation posts are somewhat interesting, I can never tell if I'm going on too much about the same thing. I'm just hoping to put some information out there.

Carrie said...

I think they're mind-numbingly boring. More LOST posts pls!

dmac said...

I'm all about these posts.

BTW, that headless video is mad creepy. You need to set it to some weird Peter Gabriel music or something.