Keys or Extremes? – The Big difference EXPLAINED!

Richard Williams (author of Animator’s Survival Kit) did not develop the only method to animating, but he IS the ONLY one who used Milt Kahl’s work method. That’s an important aspect to consider for this post.

Now I don’t know any animator who hasn’t come across his bookYet, when I look at how even industry level animators describe key poses and extremes, they often say they’re the same thing. Not quite.

Here are the clearest descriptions of keys vs. extremes that I’ve found:

Key poses are the “Sum-it-up” drawings. They are the bare bones of the shot, the comic strip poses, and the most important drawings. If you go through an animation frame by frame, The poses that most clearly describe the entire shot are the keys.

Extremes are difficult to explain (probably the reason for so much confusion), so I find it easier to add what it’s not.

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In a walk cycle, I’d argue that there are no key poses at all (unless someone is walking AND acting). So a walk cycle starts with an extreme and ends with an extreme.

Why does this even matter? Richard Williams says this about it:

“I’ve worked every system, good, bad or half-baked, and experience has convinced me that it’s best -even crucial – to separate the storytelling keys from the extremes and all the other stuff.”

“Separating them out stops us getting tangled up and missing the point of the shot, as we vanish into a myriad of drawings and position.”

Are keys extremes? Technically yes. But I say treat them all as players on basketball team! Your Michael Jordans (keys) are Chicago Bulls (extremes), but most of the Bulls don’t play like the Jordans! So the next time you find yourself with artist’s block during the splining stage, just find your keys and extremes and use them as your guide through all the mess it makes!

Comment if you’ve had similar experiences! Read an online version of the Animator’s Survival Kit here:

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How animation is made – basic, intermediate, and advanced!

The basics of animation, we have that. An intermediate 3D version of the animation process, we watch that. An in-depth look into the animation process for Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, we love that. Below, we show three ways to describe the animation process for anyone willing to pay attention!

Basic –

 

Intermediate –

 

Advanced –

 

Talent Spotlight – mahnaz soleymannejad

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Mahnaz Soleymannejad is an Iranian illustrator who worked on the Parvaneh animation piece. Full of colorful splendor, her blog reflects the personality she intergrated into her backgrounds and color keys for the animation!

Here is the teaser. Be sure to check out more of her work below the video.

PARVANEH from azarangstudio on Vimeo.
http://www.mahnazsoleymani.blogspot.com/

Learn how animation studios operate

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The market seems tough right now for all character animators. Let’s see if we can sum up a few of the roadblocks we normally come across on a daily basis:

Limited freelance gigs (usually a max duration of 3 months) have seasoned artists in survival mode, studios are bankrupting or downsizing their animation staff via layoffs, and 90% of our TV animation work is being sent to another country.

These scenarios caused widespread panic on what to do with the education we’ve spent so much on and sacrificed so much for. This resulted in massive amounts of start-up companies emerging, artists moving to Canada, inexperienced artists going back to school and/or actually teaching, and people attempting to jump into other art/design job positions.

Did that solve the problem? Not really. Most start-ups failed because they lacked sufficient clientele, half the artists who moved to Canada are still unemployed in Canada, the artists who went back to school to learn / teach still aren’t gaining experience, and the rest of them are found battling other designers for positions they don’t actually want.

Time for the Regurge advice:

Learn how animation studios operate. First, a company will not spend money on fresh talent if they’re struggling to pay their full time staff. Second, company failures repel new clients, which result in company layoffs. Third, our economy affects the mindset of the client, which is the guy who wants to put his money into the basket that guarantees the most profit. Today’s client demands company stability, because long lasting companies are companies that have been trusted before. Now the ONLY reason a company today takes on full time employees is when the projected workload indefinitely increases. This hasn’t happened recently, so most artists spend their career hopping from studio to studio.

When applying for a job, look to have these questions answered:

How long have they been around? (clients want enduring companies)
How large is their client list? (More clients, more money coming)
How many clients returned? (Were they treated well? Can they still afford them?)
Have they done company instructional work? (Stable market, full of non creatives with money to spend)

#4 is usually a trait found in smaller generalist studios that fly under the radar, but are more stable than the companies producing commercial campaign spots!

FOLLOW THE CLIENTS. FOLLOW THE CLIENTS. FOLLOW THE CLIENTS. Please.

It’s still going to be tough, because it largely depends on applying at the right time. You WILL get either the job you want, or the job you’re forced to take. The most serious question an animator asks himself/herself when looking for work:

Do I really love doing this as much as I think I do? Whoever has the stronger answer is the one who will always be employed!

Comment below. Share experiences.

Eric Goldberg fixes New Animation – TIPS!

Eric Goldberg has some electrifying words of truth for all contemporary animators. Simply put, animation is missing expressive posing. But don’t fret! Following the poison of his truth comes the antidote of legendary tips.

 

The usual process is: Idea, shooting reference, blocking, splining, and polish. 

Goldberg’s process is : Idea, pre-timing, reference (maybe), etc.

Most contemporary animators create their timing throughout the blocking and splining stages. DON’T DO THIS PEOPLE.

Instead, predict the time it’ll take to perform each step of your animation while it’s still an idea (pre-timing).

Don’t destroy your expressive poses by animating one limb at a time.

 

How Glen Keane learned the secret to Disney Animation, and more

Glen Keane, Paul Wells, Joanna Quinn, Allison Abbate and Jordi Bares explain what drew them to Animation, as well as what keeps them there. Glen and Joanna also reveal why sketching is basically the life blood of great animation.  The secret to Disney animation as well as Glen’s best reasons for sketching are found below:

 

This idea of animating with sincerity is believing in the character you animate. Literally believing them.

Observation (sketching) becomes the well spring of [your] ideas. They become the measure of truth in your drawings.

– Glen Keane

 

Here, Paul Wells explains that while today’s films use old gags and classic (innocent) designs, they also combine those elements with the darker truths of life that most people today tend to focus on. This creative collaboration now bridges the gap of entertainment between both old and new generations in the context of film making.

We live in, of course, what some call the post modern world. The impact of films like  Shrek have been very powerful in that sense. The gags are knowing, everybody’s going to be self aware about these things. We have to know where everybody stands about their own ironies, about their own position in the world. In a certain sense, this mitigates a little bit against the same design strategies, and the same kind of looks of princesses. In the sense that it at least offers us the idea that there’s a “knowingness” in this. Yes the world is a cynical place, but it’s all playful isn’t it?

– Paul Wells (paraphrased)

 

Follow the link, watch the video, and like this post!

http://www.bfi.org.uk/live/video/832

artist spotlight #4 – Tadeo Zavaleta de la Barra

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Tadeo Zavaleta de la Barra is a Peruvian fine artist who specializes in surrealism, figure painting, and mixed media masterpieces. This snippet from his bio is the best explanation as to why Zavaleta should be observed:

“His paintings are a window to an intelligent and creative mind; his strokes are the voice of a true artist. His art transcends hyper-realism exposing the observer to a surreal and delightful experience.”

 

View more of his paintings here: https://artavita.com/portfolios/5471

Here is a video about Tadeo Zavaleta de la Barra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyjgQweawsI