I am currently taking Traditional Animation I and while I am enjoying that class it is kicking my butt. I knew that animation would be difficult, what I did not anticipate was how much timing and spacing played into animation. Things that vaguely made sense in books are beginning to come into sharper focus, but I admit that 1s and 2s, anticipating, drag, timing, spacing and the like can be quite confusing. Add to this watching the work of some of my peers, which is downright phenomenal in some cases and not so great in others.
What I constantly remind myself is that:
a) Everyone is in a different place
b) I am there to learn. If I already knew this stuff I would already have a job.
It is evident that everyone is in a different place. Some people come from an animation background and have a better understanding of the principles. Then there are people like me who gained everything they know from watching DVDs and reading books. Fortunately, this class can be the great equalizer. Even things that seem outstanding are picked apart by our professor – he sees the issues we do not. It’s amazing what he is able to see that we miss.
Interesting enough, the simplest animation tends to be the best. By simple I mean the projects that forgo fancy hair, clothes, eye blinks etc. and focus solely on movement. My goal with my project was to accomplish both. I created a pretty simple character – basically a stick figure with mutton chops and a turtleneck – and am trying to get him to move in a way that does not resemble animated grated cheese. I’ve found that for every smooth movement there are quite a few that appear jerky.
Sometimes the animation is pretty good. Other times it’s irritating, other times disappointing, especially when my aspirations are so high. Growing up with Disney, Warner Bros. and Don Bluth cartoons sets the bar pretty high. Now when I watch cartoons I am simply in awe. Hair blowing in the wind! Delay with movement of clothes. Multiple characters interacting with each other!
Weirdly enough, half the time I feel like I am not competing with my peers but people who already have jobs in the industry, aka people who know what they are doing. What gives me hope is that the people I admire started animating before I was born, so by the time I am their age I will be much better than I am now.
Overall though I am going to continue to grind my way through the process until I have something I can truly be proud of. Then I will continue to animate until I have something else. Then one day I can look at my first animation tests, have a good laugh and continue working on other projects. I will say this though – I am definitely not bored.