Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stripped Bare

The above animation is by Ron Zorman, who did it with TVPaint.

I'm including it here because it is a clear reminder of the expressive power of motion. These days, motion is either limited and cliched or buried under textures and effects. Animation also veers between stylization with no resemblance to human behaviour or a leaden attempt at realism that fails to achieve the complexity of live acting.

The above is stripped bare: no sound, no colour, no texture, no face, few details. Just line. Yet the way the four sack moves presents us with a character that is indisputably alive. We can read the character's mind. We can empathize with the character's experiences. All of that is accomplished purely through motion.

The principles of animation are all here. Anticipation, stretch and squash, overshoot and recoil, line of action, follow through, overlapping action, drag, staggers, slow ins and slow outs, contrast in timing, etc. While an animator can pick them out, they're invisible to the audience because all of them are based on motions we've experienced in life. The motion is, in terms used by Chuck Jones, believable as opposed to realistic.

This is the core of what animation is. Everything else is elaboration.


David said...

Thank you for posting this , Mark. Beautiful animation and your analysis of it is spot on. Definitely going to be sharing this link .

(I just posted it over on TVPaint Community Forum )

Thad said...

A fantastic piece by a fantastic animator. Ron Zorman did some work on Ren & Stimpy that was other-worldly.

Ryan said...

(Part 1)
Sorry to change the topic, but hopefully to stay on the broader underlying topic here…

ToonBoom were just touting their involvement in the new Disney XD series Tron Uprising

Can't say that it looks bad, but what I can say is that it looks far more 3D than 2D [well, most of it is but I'm mainly talking about the characters faces etc, as far as I know the majority of the backgrounds & base structure of the characters are 3D Models]. In my opinion a lot of what ToonBoom Harmony can do with 2D rigging in a 3D space with a heretical interconnected library [of liked poses & facial expressions, model sheets & seamlessly stacked character turnarounds] structure is already pretty much quassia 3D more than it is 2D. Drawing is facilitated as secondary in ToonBoom Harmony, which primarily uses 2D puppet animation pretty much the same way that South Park used Maya to do it’s cut out animation. It's all about the nodes & the hierarchy & less about frames & drawing. Once everting is rigged & set up in the program the majority of what you are doing in ToonBoom is setting keys for positions & attributes, exactly like what you are doing in any 3D animation program like Maya. It’s fantastic as a production tool, standardising & automating things & combines so many of the production processes together, from layout & animation through to digital ink & paint, effects & even compositing final output video. But at the same time it's not perfect at all of them, and largley negates the use of the old 2D process and just becomes more like the 3D process interpreted to use flat artwork instead of dimensional CGI forms. ToonBoom Harmony has elaborate compositing & effects tools, but if you already have such things [After Effects, etc], well… the only way they really sell ToonBoom harmony to individuals is by boasting that it’s the complete animation software package [...if you also have ToonBoom storyboard pro that is, which integrates “Seamlessly”], it’s all you’ll ever need, you can do everything all just in [their] one [maybe 2] program(s). Yeah, Maybe, but my point is that nothing is stand alone, & neither should it be [Unless your aim is to monopolise a market, rather than help enable users to create the best & most diverse content]. Software is a business after all, it's just sad that our industry piggybacks on & is shaken up so heavily but it. The perfect animation program(s) already exist at this point in time, they're just not all in one clean & purchasable little package. Any artist truly worth their salt fully explores process & ways of achieving certain unique visuals for their project. Which I've found has never been fully explored or solved all in the one program, let alone all just on the computer.
When last I checked [a while ago now] and as far as I know ToonBoom Harmony Stand Alone was around 3 - 4 k… hmmm.

Ryan said...

(Part 2)
For Real tradigital 2D animation software which preserves the traditional 2D animation approach you can’t go past TV Paint based in France. And for cut out TV production style 2D animation software you really can’t go past Celeaction UK Based.

I also have some meagre issues & complaints with these programs above, but less so. The one major advantage that ToomBoom software offers is being able to integrate into a large networked studio from anywhere, and a relatively easy way of wrangling a mass digital production pipeline for the studio. They’ve also done an amazing job at being prolific at marketing themselves in their hemisphere of the animation world, monopolising on a lot of productions through whispers of efficiency & buying up smaller software outfits to create something that’s soo big & all encompassing that it's generally useful for doing something.

Don’t get me wrong, Canadian students should learn the pants off of Flash & ToomBoom because they're what folks producing TV content & all the big production houses over there offering employment are mostly running. But if I were an animation teacher or student today, I would only think about investing in these 5 programs.

Adobe Photoshop extended
TVPaint Animation Pro
Adobe Illustrator
AutoDesk Maya

All the rest, [aside from a very good computer & Cintiq for maximum use of the software above, & a good digital scanner for what follows] would all be non digital tools like a big ol’lightbox, Drawing Desk, Animation peg-bar, peg-hole puncher, Pencils, an electric sharpener & eraser.

How many grands worth do ya suppose that’d all add up to?
Now +4 years & X-amount of Student Debt. More College/University based hardware & software deals are needed for enrolled students me thinks…

PS: lets try not have our profession or tools turn into something like this…

Mark Mayerson said...

If you were really sorry to change the topic, you wouldn't have done it.

Ryan said...

It’s more of an apology for my rant in advance to you Mark.
It’s your blog & you don’t need to abide by or retain my comments, but hopefully they’re not a complete waste of your time in reading before you decide wether to clear them or not. You touched on software in the post… and so that’s where I went with this.

Ryan said...

Highly Relevant:
TAG Interview with Russ Edmonds Part 2

Pete Emslie said...

I still draw and paint with pencil, brush, ink, gouache, and illustration board! So there.... :)

chris said...

It's a wonderful piece of acting and animation.

This might be an appropriate time to remind people that animation is about movement, not drawing.

Martin Juneau said...

The acting is very brillant as well the animation is. Very fluid. Thanks for sharing this!

Matthew said...

Great post Mr Mayerson, thanks for sharing some of your thoughts on this beautiful little performance piece by Ron Zorman, and for your classification of animation as exactly that. A purely visual performance & enchanting illusion of the believability of motion derived from thoughts, actions & physical consequences.

@Ryan: I share some of your frustration, but software isn't the be all and end all of what you can accomplish.

@Chris: ."Animation is about movement, not drawing" Yeah, true. You’re right. However, I certainly don't regret ever learning or being able to draw. I cherish it.

chris said...

"Animation is about movement, not about drawing."

I'm not putting down drawing, for sure. But I feel that sometimes people in the animation world confuse being able to draw with being able to animate. And they are not necessarily the same thing.

Ron Zorman's piece is terrific, but not because of virtuoso drawing. The flour sack is not difficult to draw at all. He used his drawing skill to serve a purpose. That purpose is getting a performance out of his flour sack.

I just think that sometimes that point gets lost.

2d animation delhi said...

I am interested in Animation and graphics design.I am looking for universities who can provide me Bsc degree.I would prefer 2D and 3D animation.Do you have any knowledge of any good university?

Warm regards

Mark Mayerson said...

Anup, you might want to check out this site: