Ian's Rambles - Hooray For Old School

Recently I heard that one of the major animation courses in town (possibly THE major animation course in town) was dropping all drawing from its program. WHAAA!?!?! Man I am so glad I don’t work there. Now I sense an opportunity for the Southbank course.

There are only two full time courses I am aware of in Brisbane that still use traditional animation to teach basic, fundamental and I believe essential animation principles, and out of those two our students utilise traditional techniques far more than the other. There is often a misunderstanding as to why we consider it important. Its not because we think hand drawn animation is better, that depends completely on the practitioner. Its because there is no more immediate way to form an intimate understanding of timing and posing. You are forced to start from nothing for each frame, you put it there on that frame and here on this frame and see the results. There is a direct connection between what the student created and what appears in the animation, its not some vague, arty farty thing about “feel”, or “intuition”, it’s a solid physical memory between what you created and the resulting movement.

Someone who has really understood how to control timing through drawing each frame by hand will never trust the software to space out the inbetweens, or create an arc in a movement, because they will always be able to remember the physical process they had to go through to create convincing human movement from nothing. Its not about being a great illustrator, you can achieve this intimate understanding with stick figures and blobs on the page. Its about that direct connection from your brain down through a pencil and onto the page , instead of adjusting a number that results in a rotation along a specific axis. All the commercial work I do these days is digital, but I believe down to my cotton socks that drawing is and will continue to be the absolute best way to introduce students to the world and possibilities of animation.


Anyway all this has left me hungry to share some more old school animation wisdom with the world. So I’ve made this tutorial about traditional FX animation, this is one area that is truly dominated by computers these days, even traditionally animated films have traded in their hand drawn effects for CG stuff in recent years. But I think anyone working in this field would benefit from the experience of having to draw the FX by hand, just so they understand what’s going on down to a micro level (graphically instead of mathematically). Anyhooo, enough of my babbling (written babbling anyway), I hope you enjoy and find this useful.

Demonstration/tutorial on Traditional FX Animation from laceyi on Vimeo.


Clayton McIntosh said...

Nothing to do with that post (which I havent read yet) but I was just reading the little blurb up the top and I was wondering if anyone knows any stats of this blog? how many people are using it and stuff...

Ian said...

I might answer this question in the general chat strand Clay. The link is on the right of the main page :)

animation_student said...

The important thing is not how many people are reading it but what a reader gets out of it.

This blog is a gold mine of essential information for animation students. Yeah, sure it has subjectivity and opinion thrown in, but that's the 'personality' of a blog.

If you want to learn from a practical source, stuff that some courses fail to teach because they have to make cuts, that includes all those animators who will just be taught how to drive 3D software and wonder why their animation is lacking, this blog is one of many good sources.

Ian said...

Ta for the kind words :)

Lisa said...

...and it links students to industry folk as well....wish I had that when I was in Uni!!! :-D

Kristi said...

Effects animation, huzzah! I never got past hand-drawn tones, bubbles and water ripples, that I actually animated myself, but I have inbetweened a few mighty splashes, fires and avalanches in my time. Definitely check out Adam Phillips' work at www.biteycastle.com. Beautiful fx, among other beautiful things there.

frank said...

'Old school' is so new school!

Oma said...

Brisbane has become a sadder, greyer place with decisions, like the one you describe, in the education of future generations of animators.

Animation classes will be resorbed into multimedia courses and have the magic wrung out of them under the twisting weight of computer programming and how to optimise your placement on web search engines.

Lucky there remains a small, flickering, beacon of light down at the Southbank Institute of Technology.

frank said...

Hey Ian

I just watched the splash tutorial.

Thanks for putting up the extra tutorials. I can see some evidence of your teaching in the straight ahead wave animation that Dan animated for our group's community project.

I think with the angle of the object hitting the water, wouldn't that change the shape of the plume?

Wouldn't water spray out from the leading edge in the horizontal direction of travel and then water shoot out backwards in the direction of the 'drag', or the angle at which the object hit the water?

Kristi mentioned bubbles. I observe that larger bubbles rise faster than smaller ones. Just like you explained that larger blobs of water fall at a faster speed than smaller drops. Smaller bubbles form spheres as the most efficient
shape but big bubbles are like big wobbly jellyfish as they shimmy for the surface. Do small droplets form spheres whereas big water drops wobble about as blobs?

Bubbles in the finest champagne, however are all uniform, as fine champagne has very small bubbles. The small bubbles of carbon dioxide speed the absorption of the CO2 and alcohol into the blood from the first part of the small intestine. That's why one feels so lightheaded or as the song says, that's where the 'kick' in champagne resides. It's the bubbles.

The next time you're sipping champagne closely observe the bubbles. If they look like offset animation with bif ones racing quickly to the top send the bottle back. Good champs has orderly lines of tiny bubbles spiralling upward like chains of perfrct pearls to a smooth creamy fizz.

All animators should know this for awards ceremonies.