My school was essentially the nine old men. I wore out my first copy of The Illusion of Life. I flipped through those pages like they were gold. I went over and over and over and over all of the principles until they were burned into my grey matter. Those principles were turned into exercises. I tried to slowly incorporate what I learned into each animation I did.
The hardest part about this was not having someone critique my work. I had to be my own harshest critic. I guess that explains why I can’t stand my animation about ten minutes after it’s done. My eyes constantly find something wrong. Something that could be better. Something that could be stronger.
The other part of my “schooling” was learning what came before me. I was lucky enough to find a laser disc player (do they make those anymore?) that had a remote control with a little disc on it. This tiny circle allowed me to go through films frame by frame – letting me see little nuances in animation that I would have never seen at speed. I would roll through backwards and forwards…thousands of times. Watching arcs. Watching timing and spacing. See how an anticipation would actually make the action stronger. I looked at the animation with not only the question of HOW but of WHY. Why did it work? Why did certain poses make an emotion stronger? Why did a silhouette make the drawing more exaggerated?
The hardest part was making this transition to 3D. (In an old man’s voice) – “Back when I was learning animation, there was none of this new fangled three dee moving characters to watch and learn from.” So I had to translate some of the things I was learning into my 3D cartoons. I never had to worry about staying on model or appealing drawings but I did have to work with strong poses and clear in-betweens.
It did take quite a long time to figure out this art called animation and given the chance, I would do it all over again. However, if I could do through animation mentor? I’d do that in a heartbeat.
Guest Blogger Mike Gasaway