I hear as a rule of thumb proficient animators should produce 3 sec. of animation for every 8 hours of work. Anybody agree or disagree? I could sure use advice on efficient workflow techniques. 

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I think that completely depends on the type of animation, complexity, number of characters and whether you shoot on singles or doubles just to name a few factors.
I'm doing 3,5 seconds on average now and in a month start working on a project where I am expected to produce 8 seconds. But in a very different style.

I would usually manage more like 6 to 8 seconds of animation in a day, once I'm set up and actually starting to animate.  (Setting up can take longer than you think, just adjusting the lights and camera to look better from a new angle.) Some shots are simple and I can do 12 or 16 seconds, even 30 on some rare occasions (but probably a 10 or 12 hour day).  Some are really slow and difficult and even 3 seconds might be a struggle.  Things that slow it down might be lots of characters onscreen, or a camera move with easing in and out as well as the puppet moving, or a difficult rig to support the character, or the puppet being further back in the set so I can barely reach it and the tiedowns underneath.  A difficult puppet that moves too much, or bounces back and doesn't move enough and needs several adjustments before I can take the shot will do it too - or a puppet that breaks so I have to add some external support wire on the side away from camera to hold it up until the end of the shot.  There are also shots that go wrong, I bump the tripod or it just isn't working, and I have to start again - I might have shot 6 seconds to get 3 seconds of usable animation.

It also depends on how fussy you are - I shot faster when I was starting out, because I didn't  have a frame grabber and realise how bad it was - jerky, bad timing, I didn't know until I processed the film a week later so I just kept on animating.  Now I check each frame before taking the shot, and might make a couple of adjustments to get it smoother before I'm satisfied.

Productions like Laika's Kubo and the Two Strings require such a high standard, there are pop-throughs and rehearsals beforehand and a lot of attention paid to every part of the puppet, so I can well believe it would take a lot longer.

I shoot on ones, at 24 or 25 fps. 

Great speed. I gotta up my game.

Are pop-throughs like in betweens? I see how that is useful in cel aniz but how can that help w/ a puppet?

To date, I use clay. I gotta work fast and falling/breaking puppets is a way of life. I shoot on ones as well. I liked twos but it adds to clean up & cut-out time in post. Time remapping in AE makes timing a non-issue.

Thanks for the responses. Reading them reminds me of the book "The War of Art".  Do you all ever find being forced to be separated from a project for weeks then trying to pick-up where you left off?

StopmoNick said:

I would usually manage more like 6 to 8 seconds of animation in a day, once I'm set up and actually starting to animate.  (Setting up can take longer than you think, just adjusting the lights and camera to look better from a new angle.) Some shots are simple and I can do 12 or 16 seconds, even 30 on some rare occasions (but probably a 10 or 12 hour day).  Some are really slow and difficult and even 3 seconds might be a struggle.  Things that slow it down might be lots of characters onscreen, or a camera move with easing in and out as well as the puppet moving, or a difficult rig to support the character, or the puppet being further back in the set so I can barely reach it and the tiedowns underneath.  A difficult puppet that moves too much, or bounces back and doesn't move enough and needs several adjustments before I can take the shot will do it too - or a puppet that breaks so I have to add some external support wire on the side away from camera to hold it up until the end of the shot.  There are also shots that go wrong, I bump the tripod or it just isn't working, and I have to start again - I might have shot 6 seconds to get 3 seconds of usable animation.

It also depends on how fussy you are - I shot faster when I was starting out, because I didn't  have a frame grabber and realise how bad it was - jerky, bad timing, I didn't know until I processed the film a week later so I just kept on animating.  Now I check each frame before taking the shot, and might make a couple of adjustments to get it smoother before I'm satisfied.

Productions like Laika's Kubo and the Two Strings require such a high standard, there are pop-throughs and rehearsals beforehand and a lot of attention paid to every part of the puppet, so I can well believe it would take a lot longer.

I shoot on ones, at 24 or 25 fps. 

Do you ever try compositing to cut back needing to animate multiple figures?

Jasper Kuipers said:

I think that completely depends on the type of animation, complexity, number of characters and whether you shoot on singles or doubles just to name a few factors.
I'm doing 3,5 seconds on average now and in a month start working on a project where I am expected to produce 8 seconds. But in a very different style.

I do sometimes yeah. But I've found personally that animating a couple of puppets at the same time doesnt neccesarily complicate things. It just takes time. When you would shoot separate it would just be the same ammount of time but chopped up in little bits. But sometimes it can be super helpfull say when you have some characters doing loops and others doing straight forward animation throughout the shot.
I try to do it as little as possible though.
I believe one of the beauties of stop motion is that the objects are really there and grounded, and compositing can take Some of that away if you dont watch out. But those are just my oldfashioned purist thoughts... :)

I agree.

Jasper Kuipers said:

I do sometimes yeah. But I've found personally that animating a couple of puppets at the same time doesnt neccesarily complicate things. It just takes time. When you would shoot separate it would just be the same ammount of time but chopped up in little bits. But sometimes it can be super helpfull say when you have some characters doing loops and others doing straight forward animation throughout the shot.
I try to do it as little as possible though.
I believe one of the beauties of stop motion is that the objects are really there and grounded, and compositing can take Some of that away if you dont watch out. But those are just my oldfashioned purist thoughts... :)

Hey Ed.. well it took me 3xhrs to do 3 sec. of animation last week.. I was doing a walk cycle of my Coraline puppet, trying to imitate Art Babbit's moves from one of my books..   I'm not sure what the professional level is, I'm still learning to just show up and get something done, but I will be sharing tips if I discover any that work for me.. at the moment I'm pretty impulsive, all I do is animation all day, when I'm not working p/time.. I'm looking at FOAM LATEX at the moment, following Justin Rasch, thinking I may want to learn to make a proper puppet next before doing anymore animation, but I'm sort of all over the place in my workflow / time.. maybe most people are, that's creativity for you, and craziness lol combined..   how about you?  

Please post your work. I've worked on making a King Kong w/ foam latex, but I was seriously dissatisfied with the results. Sadly I have near ZERO patience for failure. I moved on to clay because I knew I'd get immediate results. I still wish to re-tackle the Kong project. You just reminded me I need to do that (LOL). Sounds like your workflow is rocking. Is your Coraline online yet?

Hey, sorry for delay, I was trying to find stuff on here and YouTube on foam latex.. I know what your saying about zero patience or tolerance for failure.. I'm the same, perfectionist maybe I don't know.. trying to be happy with less lol.. that's not going so well, yeah maybe you should re-tackle the Kong project.. sounds good..  yeah I sent you the link now to Coraline, but she's seriously disappointed me lol, I can't alter the tension in any of her joints, what do you expect for a £30 puppet off eBay.. and can't tie her feet down, I tried adapting the puppet today, spent hours taking magnets out of a toy figure and fitting them into her feet, but they weren't strong enough to hold her weight up.. so I release I need to go back to the drawing board and really experiment with maybe wire armatures, I was just about to order a £300 armature, but having doubts now, then I started watching Justin Rasch Doganauts Enemy Lines short film today on YouTube and that got me thinking maybe I need to make a decent foam latex puppet body with wire and maybe clay for the head / face,  or even super sculpey clay - baked / to do removable faces that would be cool.. so many options, too many options, there is a crazyness to all this, it's hard to stay focussed.. so many elements have to come into play lol it's nuts in it.. exciting though.. isn't working with clay though frustrating, even though you can get instant results, and it's a really flexible medium, because you can manipulate it right to make anything you can sculpt, it's going to show up everything, and you got to constantly sculpt it haven't you, which is fine if you not aiming for perfection.. you can just rough out the animation.. 

I realized a few years ago , perfection is for folks with a budget and time... or psychosis;-)

Then there is this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUtEtUD-sSg

There is a lot of talent out there. I'd say it's important to find the medium that is comfortable for you. Find you strength. Do you like to sculpt? Check these guys www.armaturenine.com They look affordable. You can't get much cheaper than wire 'cept my route, which is aluminum foil under "some" of the clay. You'll find almost everything has some draw back. Art ain't supposed to be easy.

You make some really valid points there.. I agree with you about perfection..  I watched that guy on YouTube and wow that was really great animation.. he put so many hours into it.. I left my comment on there..  yeah there's a lot of talent out there, on here, and sometimes it can feel intimidating, or cause conflict on some level.. I personally don't know how I'm overstimulating myself at the time, then I get myself into a state of being overwhelmed without realising how I got there.. I seem to do this all the time.. and I still don't understand it, but I plod on, trying not to make too much of it, just show up with the animation, do my best, which isn't satisfying most of the time, or the other way around I am satisfied but other people are not lol.. can't win.. it's a good job that I don't let this stop me.. but we all have to go through that I think don't we..  

I love the look of the armaturenine.com, I watched a video of the guy talking about it and showing what it can do and I'm really impressed, they are great, I was wondering how they addressed the issue of the tension in the joints and the weight etc.. that seems to be the main problem with armatures, the design limitations, but this one seems really well designed and flexible etc.. I'm defo going to look more into this tomorrow, it's a game changer for sure... thanks for sending the link and drawing my attention to this product.. no one else has mentioned it before.. your the first.. I feel like someone has passed me the holy grail of armatures lol.. maybe a little bit.. I will look into it more and see if it's suitable for me..  or stick with the wire lol we see, foil hey, I tried that with pipe cleaners with foil then latex skin over it, but that didn't work, it made it too stiff to bend and too heavy... live and learn in it.. and yeah art ain't suppose to be easy, you can say that again.. although many times my stupid brain seems to think it should be easy lol.. at least I'm not giving up like I use to.. now I bang on, crash, fall, dust off, then pick up, and start again.. what a fun repetitive loop I'm in.. I guess that's the nature of habit in it.. what do I know.. thanks Ed for the info and connecting.. I appreciate it.. 

i agree totally is this is so true https://youtu.be/NtKuCeceABo

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