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21
Dec

A08- Animation Project Pipeline: Production- Animation

Lets go ahead and talk on the ‘Move’ part of the Production pipeline. All the animation is done in this part only.

Project-Pipeline-PipeA-926D

2. Animation: Once a 3D model gets ready, its animation can be started. Animation is the most vital phase in film production. Animation is considering ‘Space, Time and Cause’ altogether. A good animation is important to have believable characters in the film. To achieve this, we have to study the motions and postures of characters. In short, we have to make the characters ‘act’, according to the story. The storyboards become very useful at this stage. The characters are posed referring the storyboard and then animation is done, step by step. This is done using ‘Key poses’, as we have seen in the ball example. That is why this is called the ‘Key-frame’ animation method.

Q: Yes, this is interesting.

In the ‘Key-frame’ method, we just have to question ourselves: “Which poses are the Key-poses?”. Once we define the important poses, the software does all the animation for us. Lets imagine that, we want to show a car moving forward. Notice the image below. The car is moving and its motion is also represented by a graph. As shown in the graph, the X axis is showing the ‘Time’ and the Y axis is showing the ‘Distance’ travelled by the car.

Car-KeyFrame-Graph
In this example, we can clearly notice that the very first and the last position of the car are the ‘Key frames’. So if we tell these two ‘keys’ to the software, it can calculate the motion, based on the difference in time and location of the car. The software calculates all the ‘In-between’ frames. This was done by ‘Assistant animators’ in earlier times. But now with a computer, it happens almost instantaneously and very accurately too!

Q: Wow! It means the computer works like an assistant. That’s great!

Yes, but that’s the point. A computer is just an assistant, YOU are the real animator. The computer will only do what YOU will ask it to do.

Anyways, lets move ahead. Now we understand, how the position of an object is animated. In the same way, the rotation too can be animated. In-fact, virtually any property can be animated, which can change over time.

Q: So, Can we animate the colour of the car?

Yes, since colour is a property which can change over time, so we surely can animate it. But we must keep in mind that we should have a good ‘Cause’ for it. A good example for animating colour is, when we see Tom getting ‘Red’ while angry.

After studying motions of the characters from the storyboard, a kind of skeleton or structure is fitted inside the 3D model. So that the character can ‘Stay in pose’ and doing animation becomes easier. The process of making these skeletons, placing the joints and determining its degrees of freedom, is called ‘Rigging’. Once a 3D model is Rigged correctly, it can be properly animated. Rigging is the prepping for animation. As I talked earlier:

“If ‘Animation’ is like driving a car and pre-production is like having a road-map. Then ‘Rigging’ is the dashboard. Using which the car reaches its destination ‘safely’.”

‘Key-frame’ animation is the primary method in 3D animation. But there are few other methods as well. e.g. Procedural animation and Simulation etc. Generally when the animation have similarity or repetition, then the animator might get bored and make mistakes. The animation in such case will not be as correct as needed. When the actions are based on some mathematical or physics formulae, then instead  of ‘key-framing’, we use procedural animation. This is based on programs or formulae and all the calculations are done by the computer. e.g. The hands of clock can have some formula to automatically rotate every second, instead of animating it manually all the time. Similarly, objects like pendulum, fan etc can have such formulae. Even complex examples can be- flock of birds, ants moving here and there, or a waterfall. Such actions are very complex and ideal examples of procedural animation method. Furthermore, when physics rules like gravity, friction, inertia are used, then it is called simulation. But, we need not go deeper, right now. In the next post, we will talk about Rendering, the last part of Production.

 

 

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Posted by Mahesh Deshpande

Director at Advaita Studios Pvt. Ltd. Having wide career experience in Design, 3d graphics and animation, since 1998. Actively involved in various 3d graphics programs and training.