Animation can be simply described as a sequence of images which gives an illusion of movement when played in an order. Years ago, humans used to paint animals on cave walls sometimes drawing four pair of legs to depict motion. Ancient Greeks decorated pots with figures in successive stages of action and spinning the pot would create a sense of motion (Williams, R., 2001, p.11-12). It is quite remarkable to note that how animation has evolved from paintings in caves to modern era hi-tech computers. Animation is widely used in various industries like films, advertisements, television, science and technology etc. The objective of this essay is to discuss the ways and methods implemented by the students in their projects- Luke Kelly's "The Villainous Vampire" and Tim Turner's "Fair Game" and to analyze their work on the basis of certain basic principles of animation.
Process employed for the accomplishment of the final project
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The processes employed by Luke Kelly and Tim Turner in accomplishing their project could be described in three stages. The Pre-production stage comprising of concept development, story boarding, layouts and production charts. The production stage involving modeling (character, environment and props), texturing, rigging, lighting and animation. The final stage of post-production consisting of sound editing, editing, compositing, rendering, titles and credits. Apart from the above mentioned processes, Luke Kelly might have also worked upon the animatics. Further, he might have done color boards and sound design that match the environment and is in accordance with the animation. For setting the environment, he might have referred to movies like Scooby Doo, The Addams Family etc. where they have haunted environments in certain scenes. The choice of vibrant colors for character and environment compliments each other. Tim Turner, apart from the process mentioned above, might have done animatics for proper timing. Moreover, he might have studied the environment or atmosphere of a fair in movies or carnivals to set the background.
Animation Principles Applied in Luke Kelly- "The Villainous Vampire"
Luke, in his short animated film "The Villainous Vampire", has made good use of the principles of Animation. The proper use of squash and stretch has given the vampire character elasticity and comical effect. "Squash and Stretch" is a traditional animation technique used widely in the 1940's 2D cartoons like Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry. A classical example of squash and stretch is bouncing ball.
Fig. 1.1 Illustration of bouncing ball in "The Animator's Survival Kit" (Williams, R. 2001)
Luke has combined squash and stretch with the bouncing of his character like a ball as shown in Fig. 2.1. A somewhat similar technique can be seen in the introduction of "The Addams Family" cartoon series where Pugsley (the small clumsy boy) bounces on the sofa (Fig. 2.2).
Fig. 2.1 Use of squash and stretch in "The Villainous Vampire" Fig. 2.2 Use of squash and stretch "The Addams Family"
In his film, Luke has maintained the volume of the character during the squash and stretch by deforming it on other axis. The bouncing of the character like a ball compliments the fact that the character is clumsy and is round like a ball. Besides bouncing, the use of squash and stretch in various other scenes has given a snappy effect to animation (Fig. 3.1). The use of squash and stretch can also be seen in the sneak walk cycle (Fig. 3.2).
Fig. 3.1 Use of squash and stretch in other scenes.
Fig. 3.2 Use of squash and stretch in sneak walk cycle.
Bill Tytla said "There are only three things in animation- Anticipation, Action and Reaction. And these imply the rest. Learn to do these things well and you can animate well. " Anticipation is an expectation of what will occur. A surprise gag works when the audience reads the expectation and expects a certain thing to happen and then something quite different happens.. Anticipation is always in opposite direction to action, thereby strengthening the action. (Williams, 2001, p.281). Luke's careful play with the moods of character has anticipated the audience for next move. For example, in Fig. 4.1, the anticipatory smile on the vampire face gives an idea of what will happen next. Whereas, in Fig. 4.2a, the character's anticipation gives the audience an idea that it will vanish off from screen with speed. But it follows some different action leaving the audience surprised. The gag works in both the cases though the action followed by the anticipation is different. By exaggerating the anticipation in his character's move, he has made the audience to look where he wants. Furthermore, he has made use of anticipation in various other shots also.
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Fig. 4.1 Smile on vampire's face Fig. 4.2a Fig. 4.2b
According to Chris Webster (2005, p.36), Overlapping action describes the variable actions within an object and how some elements of an object start, continue and end their movement in relation to others. A good use of overlapping action can be seen in this movie (Fig. 4.2b). The body of the character has stopped moving, but the hands are still in motion. Moreover, the follow up action of the character has made sure that it does not look rigid or stiff. He has balanced the weight of the character appropriately when he landed on his feet.
The concept is clear and the colors are used effectively, complementing the wickedness of the villainous vampire character. The background scene, lighting and colors also add a wicked touch to the movie.
Animation Principles Applied in Tim Turner- "Fair Game "and comparison with Luke Kelly- "The Villainous Vampire"
Tim Turner in his movie "Fair Game" though has made use of basic principles of animation but has lacked in implementing them correctly. The entry of the main characters in the film sets the mood of the scene. In "The Villainous Vampire" the slow entry of vampire (Fig. 5.1(left)) with a lazy walk cycle and facial expression completely describes the atmosphere and scene. On the other hand, the entry of kid in "Fair Game" (Fig. 5.1(right)) does not reveal the mood of the kid i.e. excitement, bored, curious etc. A better play with the walk cycle could have added more emotions to the character of the kid.
Left: Entry of Vampire Right: Entry of Kid
Tim has made use of emotions but has not exaggerated them. Thus, the expressions and emotions are not noticeable. One possible reason for this could be the design of the character. In Fig. 6.1, the kid looks happy but a slight emotion of excitement could have lighted up the scene. Furthermore, his reaction to the man, after looking at the bear is flat. It does not make the audience believe that he wants the bear. The emotions are either not clear or are not conveyed properly. A good use of expression can be seen in Fig. 6.2, where the man frowns.
Fig. 6.1 Fig. 6.2
Reaction of kid Reaction of man
A major drawback in the film is the rigidity of characters. In Fig. 6.3, the man is laughing but his rest of the body is rigid. A good use of belly movement with laughter could have implemented some flexibility in the character. The vampire character in the previous film is more fluid and Fig. 6.3 flexible because of proper use of squash and stretch along with overlapping action or secondary action. Squash and stretch use can be done in the scene shown in Fig. 6.4. His expressions can be made louder by squashing first and then stretching his eyes and face, portraying the expression of screaming. A good example for this is illustrated in the following Fig 7.1.
Fig. 7.1 Illustration of overlapping action in "The Animator's Survival Kit" (Williams, R. 2001)
Furthermore, use of anticipation in the scene shown in Fig. 8.1, could have been more pleasant and eye-catching by intensifying his actions before he falls. Though he has made use of anticipation before the fall but it does not make the audience think of the next move. It has no surprise gag which could amuse the audience and drag them into the scene. Another example from the film where the anticipation has lagged to hold the attention of audience is shown in Fig. 8.2.There is various factors which might have given a boost to this scene. For example, the hammer pulled by
Fig. 8.1 the kid is not looking so heavy. A proper play of emotions in this scene could have added light to it. For example, change of emotions from frustration to anger when he is not able to pull the hammer.
Another play with anticipation could have been done when the kid pulls the hammer and gets imbalanced. In this scene, there are various poses where the character looks imbalance, one of the reasons for this is the design of the character.
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Fig. 8.2 Kid pulling hammer.
To conclude, Luke Kelly's "The Villainous Vampire" has successfully used the basic principles of animation like squash and stretch, anticipation, overlapping action, secondary actions etc. The background, lighting and the color used has complemented the story well. Thus, his animated short is more captivating. On the other hand, Tim Turner in his animated short "Fair Game" has used the above said basic principles of the animation and has been moderately successful in giving unsatisfactory results. Although, both the animated shorts have conveyed their idea well, yet, the later one is not successful in grabbing the attention and maintaining the mood of the story.