Tag :: Animation

Starting Out in Animation

For people just starting out with the idea of making an animated movie–whether they have in mind a short 30 second clip or a two-hour feature-length film–knowing where to start is the hardest part. After all, there can be an overwhelming amount of content and tools available to you and knowing how to even get started can be pretty daunting for someone who has never done animation before.

If you’re unsure where to start, the best suggestion would be to start with the story. Animation is a method of telling a story and if you have a good story then that gives you a solid foundation for everything that flows after that.

A lot of people focus on the technical aspects of the animation, wanting it to look like Pixar’s feature films. However, Pixar’s films are great primarily because of the stories they tell. They have strong characters and themes that resonate with their audiences. The excellent animation that they do comes in on top of their excellent storytelling in films like Toy Story 3 and Ratatouille.

Story is right at the start of our own animation process, which consists of:

1. Story
2. Script
3. Storyboard/planning.
4. Gathering/building assets.
5. Production
6. Compositing/Editing.

Since we are all animators, while we are developing the story we can start playing around with animation and developing our skills with some test animations. Load characters and props into Daz or Poser and start moving them character around to get familiar with the animation tools available in those programs. Get used to how long it takes to render an animation. Don’t worry too much about how it looks – you’re not going to create Pixar quality right out of the gate, you’re still learning at this point. And that’s the important part with animation at this point–learning. Time + Effort leads to skill.

But quality animation all has to start with story.

We’ll get into the various aspects of creating your own animation in the future here on the Posermocap site.

Tips for Poser Animators: The Best Free Film School

When we’re starting out with character animation, we tend to rejoice when we finish a single render. But for every animator, there is the desire to do more, to actually combine the individual renders into a single, cohesive story. The problem is that for many of us, it’s a whole new level of complexity when we start looking at going beyond an animated clip and into the realm of film. Film is a new language to learn, and while there are many very reputable film schools scattered around the world, there are several free film schools available to those who seek them out.

Now, we’re going to talk a lot about the craft of filmmaking in this article, and everywhere you read filmmaking just substitute it with Poser Animation. For our purposes, the two are indistinguishable. The techniques may be different, but the language of film is the same as the language of animating with Poser or Daz|Studio.

So, what are these film schools? They are the Public Library, Film Festivals, and the Internet.

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Tips for Poser Animators: Average Shot Length

When you are starting an animation in Poser or Daz|Studio, it is good to keep Average Shot Length (ASL) in mind. ASL has been dropping in since the start of film as editing techniques have become more advanced, allowing for more kinetic storytelling that draws the audience in to the story.

It’s amazing to see that the ASL in 1903 was 35.6 seconds and yet in 2009, it had dropped to 2.9 seconds. For years–from 1914 to 1985–the ASL tended to hover in the five to fifteen second range and then in 1986, the ASL started its steady drop to its present very short situation.

While it’s tough to generalize across movies as a whole, there are certain tips that can be gleaned from the ever-shortening ASL.

First, the greater the action on the screen, the shorter the shot length needs to be. In almost any action sequence, the shots last little more than a second in many cases, with longer shots allowing the audience a chance to catch their breaths along with the characters, before demanding all of their concentration for the next sequence of one-second cuts.

Second, even in slower-paced scenes, the camera rarely stays in one place for long–a conversation will have lots of shots of relatively short length cut together to allow the whole. Shots of the speaker will be intercut with reaction shots of the listener, and even wider shots showing the surroundings as they speak.

Third, use the very long shots for majestic moments where you want the audience to be filled with awe at the images on screen and where you want to give them a chance to see and appreciate every single detail. Seeing a giant starship as it crawls past the screen, a slow majestic flight across mist-shrouded hills, or even a slow camera move across the form of an attractive actor/actress are all meant to signal to the audience–hey, you should be impressed by this!

Setting the wrong shot length is also the second biggest mistake that many starting animators make.

The biggest is whipping the camera around the with no relation to real-world physics and trying to really show off the “3-D” nature of their scene–either that or putting so much jitter in recreating a hand-held shaky-cam look that you can’t see anything on screen. But that’s another topic.

We have all seen animations of fight scenes that look like the participants are involved in a real knock-down, drag-out battle, but because the shot length doesn’t match the intensity of the moment, the life gets sucked out of the fight. Instead, we’re treated to shots that last 30 seconds or more. It’s even worse if the camera remains static.

Exception to the rule: If the scene has its own pacing, and you are willing to continually shift the camera’s point of interest, then you can get away with a very long shot. Director John Woo, in his movie Hard Boiled had a continuous shot that followed the two heroes shooting their way through one corridor, getting in an elevator and having a short, intense conversation, and then getting out of the elevator to shoot their way through another hallway–the shot lasts a stunning two minutes and forty-two seconds and is an amazing piece of choreography. Likewise, Orson Welles opens his movie Touch of Evil in a continuous tracking shot lasting three and a half minutes where Welles seamlessly moves from one vignette to the next.

By keeping shot length in mind, you can affect your audience’s mood–shorter clips get the audience more excited, longer clips let them breathe, and really long clips let them appreciate what you’ve done.

New Demo Video for Zombie Moves 1

We’ve taken the time to update the demo video for our Zombie Moves Pack Volume 1 to bring it in line with the demo videos for our other motion-captured animated pose packs for Poser and Daz|Studio. Many of you have already seen the Mummy Walks video that we have in our Gallery Page, which really shows off what can be done with Poser and our Moves Packs. Our present video shows the motion-captured animations in their simplest form–applied to Daz3D’s Michael 4. Enjoy!

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Demo Trailer

We’ve added the demo trailer for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang to show off all the moves that are available in the motion capture pack. Each of these poses can be easily applied in Poser and Daz|Studio and are currently available for Daz’s M3 and M4 figures, as well as V3 and V4.2 figures.

Advice to a Young Artist

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with a starting multimedia student. You see, a short interview with a person in the industry was an admissions requirement for her multimedia program.

Yeah, it was flattering. But we didn’t let it go to our heads too much. :)

However, the closing interview question started a discussion that we felt should be shared with our readers here on Posermocap.com. It was an inocuous enough question–”do you have any closing advice or comments?” but it opened up two interesting threads.

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Can Poser really be used to make a Movie?

This is not an unusual question. Both Poser and Daz|Studio have long been known as methods for creating outstanding looking still images, but not so much for animation.

Now, if you go onto any CG Animation forum on the net, you’ll likely find that lower-cost programs like Poser and Daz|Studio are not held in the same esteem as more expensive programs like Maya, 3DS MAX, Lightwave and Softimage. The perception is certainly out there that “good” animation needs expensive software and that the more expensive the software, the better the animation.

While it is true that the more expensive programs tend to have extensive toolsets, the capabilities of lower-cost programs have been expanding tremendously over the past few years. And for programs like Poser and Daz|Studio, they can indeed be used to make movies.

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This is what it’s all about

We’re pleased to give you a first look at what we’ve been talking about. Here’s the teaser trailer of our upcoming Zombie Walk Moves pack that will be released very soon. This will provide Poser and Daz|Studio users with easy to use Motion-Captured animation sequences to apply to their own figures.

Mocap – the Animation Rocket Engine

When it comes to getting character animation done, few methods are as powerful or as fast as using Motion Capture data. By using live actors to generate animation data, you get all the subtleties and nuances of motion that are incredibly difficult to replicate using keyframes. Instead of spending days keyframing a performance, you can potentially have your animated character brought to life with a single click.

It can really be like strapping on a rocket engine to get you moving through your animated project.

Imagine being able start animating a scene in minutes, rather than hours. How many more scenes could you get done in a single day? How many films could you get done this year?

As exciting as Motion Capture is, there are some issues with the technology that have to be anticipated when you’re planning your production.

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Animation Democracy

These are good times for people like us who grew up with a passion for animation. No longer is animation meant exclusively for those with deep pockets. Instead, the cost of both computer software and hardware has come down to the point where anyone can create an animated film of their own.

Yes, that’s right. Anyone.

While contemporary theatrical animated films can have budgets that reach nearly USD$200 Million, there is an explosion of independent animated films being released on the internet and direct to DVD by people working out of their homes on desktop and laptop computers with production budgets that might just reach upwards into the hundreds of dollars. Maybe. Powerful computers and powerful software, combined with gigabytes of low-cost content available online put animated filmmaking within reach of anyone.

It’s a true animation democracy.

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