Category Archives: backgrounds

A quick peek behind the Scenes (Or the real face of Animation)

A lot of times I’ve been told that if we, animators, own a “special” software. By the questions I’ve been asked, sometimes this “special” software becomes magical. Like if Pixar of DreamWorks had a set of parameters like: 50% action, 35% comedy and 15% character development and then you press a button and… Presto! You’ve got yourself a Blockbuster movie!

I can assure you that is anything but that.

Both 3D animation and 2D animation start the same way: with storyboards and moodboards. This tools are priceless and, more often than not, still done in it’s majority “by hand”. Sometimes, it is drawn directly into some software, using a Cintiq or a Tablet.

Background in process

Background in the process of being painted in Adobe Photoshop, using a scanned drawing as reference.

So as you can see animation is a technique, not a movie genre. It’s just a different way to tell stories that might not work that well in Live Action settings.

Most people got shocked when I explained that my final film was done with 707 final drawings (That is without counting rough animation, in which you sometimes do several times a scene, until you get it right!) and that all of those drawings were scanned and then digitally painted using Toon Boom Harmony (a very animator specific software).

This is a X-sheet in Toon Boom Harmony

This is a X-Sheet, in Toon Boom Harmony. First we fill this ones by hand -before- we even start drawing, in order to plan our animation. Then we type it back into the software, making sure each drawing is in order according to this sheet.

But at least Adobe Flash does the work for you, right? (I’ve been asked that several times). Adobe Flash is a very quirky piece of software. And I know Flash since my days in University, studying graphic design.  Truth be told, Flash does help you to stay more “on model”,  the technical term for a character that hasn’t been distorted. But the way animation works in Flash is very different to the traditional way of animating, and that’s why most Flash animations tend to be “snappy” and very fast paced. That’s the way it works best.  But Adobe decided to change Flash to a more programmer friendly software, and made things insanely difficult for animators (and Graphic designers) so must Animation studios own older versions of Flash to work with.  And that means this:

Flash Crashing

A very feared screen to see while animating. The newer versions of Flash have become more stable, but less animator friendly. So we just keep on saving VERY often.

And don’t get me wrong: Flash Animation is great! I was able to (while learning how to use Flash for animation purposes) to do a film that has the same lenght as my classical film… in one fourth of the time! Yes, that’s right!!! It’s a lot faster to animate on Flash than classically.

Right now Im starting to develop an Idea to do it on Toon Boom Animate Pro, so I can compare Flash against. I’ll keep you posted on that sometime in the future.

Now you know all the work that Animation needs, and it will give you a whole new level of appreciation of masters at Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks and all those studios that make a big effort to entertain you. I’ll post a couple of clips of traditional animation, just for you to see all the work involved, this time around from Disney’s Fantasia 2000 (and one of my favorite sequences!):

Enjoy! And keep in mind that EVERY frame was drawn by hand and then cleaned up… lot’s of work!


Hedgehogs’ Dilemma is Wrapped up!

Yes, that’s right!

The upcoming animated short “Hedgehogs’ Dilemma” is finished and on its way to post-production. Rob Wood helped me with the editing, fine-tuning those little timing aspects of the short and small details in colour that escaped me for some reason. Starting monday Matt Thomas, the school’s main sound designer, will be making a soundtrack for the short.

I can hardly wait to see it finished in its entirety!

The best compliments I have had so far have been from Moose, saying that he wouldn’t change anything timing-wise, Adam Rogers saying that he liked the colors I used and Rob Wood saying that I’m the first student to pull off a reddish-magenta (or a magentish red?) that he likes and its not annoying on the screen.

I can’t thank enough the amazing professional staff at VFS for all the knowledge, help and for being there hours after class, helping us achieve the best we could.

As a “Thank you”, I’m posting some of the backgrounds of my short. Hope you like them and feel free to comment!