Animation Tips From Industry Experts

Today we're going to look at some quick tips that will help you build better animations. 

Want to improve your animation workflow? These tricks shared by Jake Clark, Sophie Evans, and Raul Ibarra at GDC will teach you how to use cameras, build poses, rely on simpler movements, and more. 

Jake Clark from Studio MDHR emphasizes that you can always use tricks from traditional animation in 3D. First, you should nail down your main poses as soon as possible. Defining key points right from the start prevents many problems with the final animation. It also prevents the uncertainty of whether your animation will work or not. Focus on the poses before you focus on the motion. 

Don't forget that you should consider each individual element which means that you need to think about the movements of each part before moving to set up the full poses. A smart move is to think about the character's hands, hair, legs and all other parts - you should examine them as separate elements and that see if they work together. 

Keeping your animation sincere is much more important than filling your sequences with entertaining action. Sometimes a simpler animation with less action is way more appealing than a crazy sequence full of explosions. You want people to believe in your characters as if they were real, don't forget about that. 

The most important thing though is to always remember about contrast - you need to mix fast and slow movements or your audience will eventually get bored. 

A definitive book on animation from the Academy Award-winning animator behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Richard Williams explained the underlying principles of animation that every animator needs. The book features hundreds of drawings to cover all forms of animation for professionals, students, and fans.

It's your job to define the tools you're using and be efficient while using them, states Sophie Evans from The Molasses Flood. When you open Maya for the first time, you basically enter hell where there are too many tools you don't know. Efficiency will make you faster, so you'll become a more valuable animator. Basically, your job is to repeat some actions over and over again, and if you can cut second every now and then, you'll be much more productive. 

Also, don't forget to discover new tools. You should check out tools by Aaron Koressel from Pixar who shared a bunch of cool scripts for all kinds of tasks. You can the developer's page here

Another important thing is to master cameras. We might know things about perspective, but when it comes to depth of field and focal length, we could all improve our skills. The right setting can emphasize the mood and add more colors to the whole picture. You can also add the action by adding camera movement (remember those epic fights in God of War?).

You can also add the action by adding camera movement (remember those epic fights in God of War?).

Working on a new action sequence with a new character? Don't know how to start? Try using a motion path, suggests Raul Ibarra. Such paths will help you constraint your character and help understand body deformations. It's all about the context. 

Break your animations: deform, scale and move bones, do whatever you need to get the best pose. Does a finished animation look dull? Try adding some noise and crazy frames to make things look cool. The right noise will make your animation more believable even if they seem crazy. 

Finally, it doesn't matter if you're bad with instruments - animation is music and you should use that to your advantage. You listen to music every day, so try catching your favorite tempo and use it. 

This book shows how you should apply physics to character motion, light and shadow placement, explosions, ocean movement, and outer space scenes. Physics concepts are explained in animator’s terms, so it’s all about animation movement and appearance.

Make sure to check out pages of Jake Clark, Sophie Evans, and Raul Ibarra to learn more about their works. Please note that these tricks were originally shared during a GDC panel in 2019. You can watch the full version with more tricks here

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