Here’s a question that I get quite a bit in my classes: Why does my animation look bad when I take it out of stepped mode into splines for polishing?
The answer for me is relatively simple. Don’t let the computer do your animation. If you don’t like the inbetweens that your computer is giving you, don’t let it do the inbetweens! Control the arcs of your character, the way a head turns, the speed at which the arms move, how much space the body goes through.
I like to say that if your computer looks like computer animation it’s because it IS computer animation. You, the animator, haven’t put enough inbetweens or enough love in your splines (whichever method you like to animate).
Ask anyone in my personal life. I’m a control freak. I have to be in control. I’m learning, through tons of therapy, to get better but the fact still remains. This comes in handy when I’m animating. I will usually put a keyframe every 2 frames or so. Sometimes I’ll even drop one on EVERY FRAME. I trust my computer to crunch numbers extremely fast. It knows the difference between a one and a two. But, it doesn’t know anticipation. It doesn’t understand arcs. So I have to put that in there. I have to let it know that on frame 46, my head is going to do this and my left arm is going to do that.
I make sure that I put that keyframe on EVERYTHING. Not just the head or the hand, but EVERYTHING. Let me say that one more time with feeling. EVERYTHING. I do this because I do like to work in stepped mode to finesse my animation and see where the keys are. The last thing I want is to hit that magical spline button, and everything falls apart. Why is that not moving? Why IS that moving? Believe me, I’ve yelled that at the top of my lungs before. If I put a key on everything, it doesn’t do things I have no control over. It doesn’t do things I didn’t anticipate.