Animation Tips and Tricks

Animation Tips and Tricks

1 . Basic Animation Tips

These tips cover helpful tools and processes for animation, as well as troubleshooting problems that you might run across while working with computer animation.

2 . Flash Tips and Tricks

Flash is a complicated program, but you can easily avoid getting bogged down and save time with some basic tips.

3 . Money Saving and Shopping Tips for Animators

Animation programs are expensive; so are the various tools and supplies that we use every day. Here are some ways to save money – and a few guides on what to get for the special animator in your life who might be a little strapped for cash.
Free and Trial Animation Programs
Royalty Music and Sound Effects Resources
Five Inexpensive Animation Solutions for the Mac
Keeping Up With The Studios: Breaking Into Animation Without Breaking the Bank
Essential Animation Supplies
From Gouache to Gadgets: Shopping for the Animator on Your Holiday Gift List

4 . Education Tips

There are many things to learn about being an animator, and the learning process never ends. Looking for a good school? Ready to graduate, and putting together your portfolio? Try these helpful guides.

5 . Animate acting shots one phrase at a time

Its best to have clear full-body posing in your phrases at the expense of smooth transitions, especially early on. Animation follows beats and phrases, each with its own purpose. For a scene in which a store clerk is helping a customer, one phrase might be him waving as the customer enters; the next might be him putting his hands in his pockets as he listens to the customer.
Treat each phrase like its own shot. Reduce your timeline to display only the phrase youre working on, and create a beginning, middle and end to the idea being animated.

6 . Loosen up when animating contact

Avoid keying the whole body at the point contact occurs. On most actions, particularly faster ones, the instant of contact wont be captured on 24fps film. More importantly, youll bias the movement towards culminating at the moment of contact, flattening your arcs. If a character picks up a glass, the arm is the stronger force.
Animate the hand going through the glass, overshooting the contact point while staying on nice arcs. Now correct the glass position and constraining of the glass, to make up for the moment of contact missed between frames.

7 . Playblasting is a huge waste of time

Calm down, dont freak out yet! Of course theres no replacement for watching your animation at real-time speed, and you absolutely must watch your animation this way to be productive. However, hours are lost every week waiting for previews and playblasts to render. Reclaim your productive time by creating a layer or a button to hide everything in the scene except the character and proxy-resolution sets, so you can simply hit Play to watch the animation.
If youre working with a rig thats too heavy to do this, request a proxy version from your TD or supervisor. Most film-level rigs have a version created from tin-can geometry parented to bones to make this possible. If this is impossible, at least take notes while watching your playblasts to avoid re-rendering constantly.

8 . Facial animation is about motion

Were often asked whether there are certain poses that should always be built into face rigs to ensure the character can effectively express a natural range of emotion. The answer is that real emotion is expressed with the movement of the face: a lip quivering when a character is about to cry, the eyes darting around when a person is at a loss for words, or a character pressing their face tightly to avoid laughing at something.

9 . Mute your dialogue

Yes, you must listen to your dialogue over and over and over when you start a dialogue shot to get into the character, the subtext, the mood and the performance. But later on, when you work through the body mechanics and full-body gestures, its common to rely too heavily on the dialogue to fill in performance thats lacking in the body.

10 . A mirror is a dangerous thing

Be careful using a mirror for doing lip-sync. When speaking into the mirror, we slow down our pronunciation to copy a shape. This is misleading, because it disregards natural lip/jaw independence.
Key your lip-sync in separate passes for the lips and jaw, and use a mirror for information to help one pass at a time