Sunday, July 27, 2014

Animation Tools

And the advance of technology:

... How To Train Your Dragon 2 marks the first feature created using DreamWorks Animation’s new Apollo animation platform, developed and implemented over the course of the past five years. ...

[D]irector Dean DeBlois said Apollo let him do things he couldn’t before, specifically, get more complex. “We used to have to simplify a lot of our characters, and animators had to work on characters individually, waiting lengthy time to render,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “They no longer have to do that, it's real time and it allows us to have detailed characters.” ...

The director added that it also gives the animators an intuitive way to work. “They used to work with pull down menus to make simple adjustments, now they work with a stylus and tablets, just like a stop-motion animator would work with a clay puppet. They can go back and tweak and finesse and bring subtly to the performance,” DeBlois said. “They could have always done that, but they can do it much more efficiently now, allowing them to tweak more that in the past.” ...

When I ask some CG animators who've made the jump from hand-drawn animation about the differences between the two, the response is:

"You need to know timing, and arcs, and acting. That's the same, but you get there by a different way. I still like to thumbnail the scene out with a pencil, do the keys, figure out where I'm going. Then I animate the rig. ..."

Puppeteering is a good description for CG animation. If Apollo makes the work more intuitive, that's a positive development. Because it's not so much about moving a figure through space; it's about the acting, about making the moments on the screen resonate emotionally with an audience.


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