The importance of clean blocking comes back to why we block in the first place. To present a clear direction or intent, to the supervisors and directors. If you have done your job in your blocking, anyone who views your shot should be able to tell exactly what is happening. Should anyone ask “yeah so...what's he doing riiiiiight...THERE!” Well, then you probably weren't clear enough, pack up your desk and get out.....
No, no it happens. You thumbnailed, you shot reference, your blocking is clear to you, but we must be sure it reads to everyone else as well. That's why its important to show your blocking to fellow animators while your working; don't work in a vacuum...not that you could fit in a vacuum, unless it was one of those giant industrial kinds.
A question I will get a lot from my students is: How far do we go with the blocking...how much is too much? Again it's important that the blocking reads clearly. Sometimes two poses can tell the whole story. Other times you may need several breakdowns to make a particular pose change clear. Basically, you want to put in as much as you need to get the idea across, while at the same time, keeping it simple.
Often times student's dirty up their blocking by including too many ideas. So a scene that may only have two ideas...two beats, will be blocked with four or five ideas. It's important to make sure that the key poses are working with the key beats or phrases of the shot. Don't get all crazy with trying to cram in too many ideas. Some questions to ask when planning your scene: what is the purpose of the shot? ...what do I need to say to the audience?
When I block out a scene I will work in stepped keys, this way when I view my animation I am flipping through the poses. I key everything on the character for each one of my key poses, which keeps everything neat in my timeline. This way, if I receive notes from the supervisor or director, I can implement the changes quickly and easily.
Keep it clear and keep it simple.
Guest blogger Ray Chase