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Micah Rams
Micah Rams

Character Animation In 3D: Use Traditional Draw...

Before animation begins, a preliminary soundtrack or scratch track is recorded so that the animation may be more precisely synchronized to the soundtrack. Given the slow manner in which traditional animation is produced, it is almost always easier to synchronize animation to a preexisting soundtrack than it is to synchronize a soundtrack to pre-existing animation. A completed cartoon soundtrack will feature music, sound effects, and dialogue performed by voice actors. The scratch track used during animation typically contains only the voices, any songs to which characters must sing-along, and temporary musical score tracks; the final score and sound effects are added during post-production.

Character Animation in 3D: Use traditional draw...

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While the animation is being done, the background artists will paint the sets over which the action of each animated sequence will take place. These backgrounds are generally done in gouache or acrylic paint, although some animated productions have used backgrounds done in watercolor or oil paint. Background artists follow very closely the work of the background layout artists and color stylists (which is usually compiled into a workbook for their use) so that the resulting backgrounds are harmonious in tone with the character designs.

In the traditional animation process, animators will begin by drawing sequences of animation on sheets of transparent paper perforated to fit the peg bars in their desks, often using colored pencils, one picture or "frame" at a time.[3] A peg bar is an animation tool used in traditional animation to keep the drawings in place. A key animator or lead animator will draw the key drawings or key frames in a scene, using the character layouts as a guide. The key animator draws enough of the frames to get across the major poses within a character performance.

While working on a scene, a key animator will usually prepare a pencil test of the scene. A pencil test is a much rougher version of the final animated scene (often devoid of many character details and color); the pencil drawings are quickly photographed or scanned and synced with the necessary soundtracks. This allows the animation to be reviewed and improved upon before passing the work on to their assistant animators, who will add details and some of the missing frames in the scene. The work of the assistant animators is reviewed, pencil-tested, and corrected until the lead animator is ready to meet with the director and have their scene sweatboxed.

This process is the same for both character animation and special effects animation, which on most high-budget productions are done in separate departments. Often, each major character will have an animator or group of animators solely dedicated to drawing that character. The group will be made up of one supervising animator, a small group of key animators, and a larger group of assistant animators. Effects animators animate anything that moves and are not a character, including props, vehicles, machinery and phenomena such as fire, rain, and explosions. Sometimes, instead of drawings, a number of special processes are used to produce special effects in animated films; rain, for example, has been created in Disney animated films since the late 1930s by filming slow-motion footage of water in front of a black background, with the resulting film superimposed over the animation.

The current process, termed "digital ink and paint", is the same as traditional ink and paint until after the animation drawings are completed;[7] instead of being transferred to cels, the animators' drawings are either scanned into a computer or drawn directly onto a computer monitor via graphics tablets, where they are colored and processed using one or more of a variety of software packages. The resulting drawings are composited in the computer over their respective backgrounds, which have also been scanned into the computer (if not digitally painted), and the computer outputs the final film by either exporting a digital video file, using a video cassette recorder or printing to film using a high-resolution output device. Use of computers allows for easier exchange of artwork between departments, studios, and even countries and continents (in most low-budget American animated productions, the bulk of the animation is actually done by animators working in other countries, including South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, Singapore, Mexico, India, and the Philippines). As the cost of both inking and painting new cels for animated films and TV programs and the repeated usage of older cels for newer animated TV programs and films went up and the cost of doing the same thing digitally went down, eventually, the digital ink-and-paint process became the standard for future animated movies and TV programs.

Hanna-Barbera was the first American animation studio to implement a computer animation system for digital ink-and-paint usage.[8] Following a commitment to the technology in 1979, computer scientist Marc Levoy led the Hanna-Barbera Animation Laboratory from 1980 to 1983, developing an ink-and-paint system that was used in roughly a third of Hanna-Barbera's domestic production, starting in 1984 and continuing until replaced with third-party software in 1996.[8][9] It was first tested in the Pac-Man episodes "Nighty Nightmares" and "The Pac-Mummy". In addition to a cost savings compared to traditional cel painting of 5 to 1, the Hanna-Barbera system also allowed for multiplane camera effects evident in H-B productions such as A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (1988).[10]

While Hanna-Barbera and Disney began implementing digital inking and painting, it took the rest of the industry longer to adapt. Many filmmakers and studios did not want to shift to the digital ink-and-paint process because they felt that the digitally colored animation would look too synthetic and would lose the aesthetic appeal of the non-computerized cel for their projects. Many animated television series were still animated in other countries by using the traditionally inked-and-painted cel process as late as 2004, though most of them switched over to the digital process at some point during their run. The last major feature film to use traditional ink and paint was Satoshi Kon's Millennium Actress (2001); the last major animation productions in the west to use the traditional process were Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants, both Fox's The Simpsons and King of the Hill and both Cartoon Network's The Powerpuff Girls and Ed, Edd n Eddy, which all switched to digital paint between 2000 to 2004,[13] while the last major animated production overall to abandon cel animation was the television adaptation of Sazae-san, which remained stalwart with the technique until September 29, 2013, when it switched to fully digital animation on October 6, 2013. Prior to this, the series adopted digital animation solely for its opening credits in 2009, but retained the use of traditional cels for the main content of each episode.[14] Minor productions, such as Hair High (2004) by Bill Plympton, have used traditional cels long after the introduction of digital techniques. Most studios today use one of a number of other high-end software packages, such as Toon Boom Harmony, Toonz (OpenToonz), Animo, and RETAS, or even consumer-level applications such as Adobe Flash, Toon Boom Technologies and TV Paint.

The cel animation process was invented by Earl Hurd and John Bray in 1915. The cel is an important innovation to traditional animation, as it allows some parts of each frame to be repeated from frame to frame, thus saving labor. A simple example would be a scene with two characters on screen, one of which is talking and the other standing silently. Since the latter character is not moving, it can be displayed in this scene using only one drawing, on one cel, while multiple drawings on multiple cels are used to animate the speaking character.

In very early cartoons made before the use of the cel, such as Gertie the Dinosaur (1914), the entire frame, including the background and all characters and items, were drawn on a single sheet of paper, then photographed. Everything had to be redrawn for each frame containing movements. This led to a "jittery" appearance; imagine seeing a sequence of drawings of a mountain, each one slightly different from the one preceding it. The pre-cel animation was later improved by using techniques like the slash and tear system invented by Raoul Barre; the background and the animated objects were drawn on separate papers.[16] A frame was made by removing all the blank parts of the papers where the objects were drawn before being placed on top of the backgrounds and finally photographed.

Academy Award-nominated animator Bill Plympton is noted for his style of animation that uses very few in-betweens and sequences that are done "on threes" or "on fours", holding each drawing on the screen from 1/8 to 1/6 of a second.[19] While Plympton uses near-constant three-frame holds, sometimes animation that simply averages eight drawings per second is also termed "on threes" and is usually done to meet budget constraints, along with other cost-cutting measures like holding the same drawing of a character for a prolonged time or panning over a still image,[20] techniques often used in low-budget TV productions.[21] It is also common in anime, where fluidity is sacrificed in lieu of a shift towards complexity in the designs and shading (in contrast with the more functional and optimized designs in the Western tradition); even high-budget theatrical features such as Studio Ghibli's employ the full range: from smooth animation "on ones" in selected shots (usually quick action accents) to common animation "on threes" for regular dialogue and slow-paced shots.

Creating animation loops or animation cycles is a labor-saving technique for animating repetitive motions, such as a character walking or a breeze blowing through the trees. In the case of walking, the character is animated taking a step with its right foot, then a step with its left foot. The loop is created so that, when the sequence repeats, the motion is seamless. In general, they are used only sparingly by productions with moderate or high budgets. 041b061a72


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