First step.
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11 September 2008

First step.

Well, after we have the wagon and the work on the model, rig and skin of the gypsy is finished, the time has come to try all this in business, which means we will animate!

All of you have seen how expressive the tempers of the characters from western cartoons are, but not only the appearance of the character affects this, at least the half of the whole impression depends on animation.

For the first tests the decision was taken to make the walking and the scene where the gypsy carries his wagon; in order to understand how our character should move we decided to film the real people performing these actions, and then the animator had to transfer it on our gypsy.

All this is performed in the following way: with the help of control elements, which are included in the rig of the personage, our character is put in the key positions, and the computer itself works out the intermediary postures, to be more precise these are the locations of points in the space between the initial and terminal keys (key postures).

Thus, for example, for Gojo to raise his hand is not necessary to set the keys in each shot, it is sufficient to set only the initial and terminal point of the animation. This feature of computer animation considerably eases the work if compared to classic, i.e. hand drawn animation.

The time has come and the first animation is ready, gypsy started to move, but something in his moves looked artificial and lifeless, he looked more like a puppet and not like a cartoon character. After analyzing the situation we understood that this happened because of us mistakenly trying to convey the movements of a real person to the cartoon character, and we shouldn’t do that. So we had to render the animation on paper, to draw the phases of movement, to add the “cartoonity”.

After the phasing, which is the drawing of the intermediary frames between the main postures of the character, was ready and handed to the animator, and after the animator adjusted the character to the phases drawn by the artist with the help of the control elements of the rig, the result of the work had considerably changed. This is because the general principles of computer animation do not considerably differ from the classic ones; with their help one can easily enliven the movements of a character, make them more natural and thus more attractive.

One of this principles is contraction and stretching, since every alive and even not alive item stretches or contracts while moving like for example a ball when flying and running into some obstruction; the main condition of this postulate is the perseverance of the volume of an object, that is if somewhere a contraction is happening, it should necessarily be compensated by stretching somewhere else.

Another by no means unimportant principle is the preparing or prediction; every action is preceded by the predicting action, as for example a person should first haul off before throwing or sit before jumping. This principle is used everywhere, for example before turning his head, the character should first look in the direction of turning and so on.

Almost always the secondary moves should be added to the basic animation, for example blinking, or raising and falling of the chest in order to show character’s breathing, dangling lantern or kettle on the wagon – all this adds liveliness and naturalness to the animation.

The list of the animation principles described above is far from complete, in the next postings in our blog we will try to complement it and tell more about the computer animation…

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