taking one frame at a time since 1999
Thank you so much bro for interesting
My early animation, before frame grabbers and without much experience, was pretty jerky. I've made a lot of progress on getting it smooth, but I just looked at a walk I did, and all it does is get 2 puppets from A to B. There is no individual personality, no sense of how they are feeling, it could have been any two characters in any situation. So I know that I have a lot of work to do on the acting side of it to even come close to the standard we see in Laika and other feature films.
Excellent advice Nick.. I know what you saying.. I would definitely focus more on learning the principles Ameen..it seems most are becoming more focussed on the tech and looking for short cuts to making images look good.. I'm just as guilty of this myself.. looking at super expensive cameras and motion control rigs etc..
There is more to great animation than smoothness. Laika characters are also very expressive, you can read their mood and personality in the way they move. But smoothness is definitely a good thing to work on.
Use your frame grabber - Dragonframe is the one I use - to see how far you move the puppet, and in which direction, for every frame. Pick a point to measure, like the characters nose, hand, or foot, whatever is moving. You can mark the position for each frame with the marking tool if you like. It draws on the screen, but the drawing is not saved on the images, it is only there to see while you animate, and can be erased. Usually I just click back and forward to compare the move with the last few frames, before I take the shot. Some animators use onion skinning, where you get ghost images of several frames at once, but I find that confusing for small moves. I use the marking tool when it really needs to be precise.
Things to watch for:
Moving in the same direction each frame. A puppet might be wailing forward, left to right. watch out that it doesn't also lean to the side one frame, then back the other way, or bounce up one frame and down the next, those will make the movement look jerky even if the forward motion is the same amount.
Accelleration and deceleration. Also called ease-in and ease-out, slow-in and slow-out, and ramp-up and ramp-down. Things don't go from standing still to moving at full speed in one frame. (This applies to a camera move too.) Start with a very small move, maybe 1mm or 2mm, then a little bigger, then bigger, building up to full speed. The same with stopping, unless something runs into a brick wall, it slows down and then stops.
Arcs. Changes of direction should not be sudden, the path should follow a curve as it adjusts to the new direction. Actually a lot of movement follows an arc anyway. An arm or leg pivots from one point and swings like a pendulum. A puppet's head moving across the screen as it walks will usually follow a wave pattern as it goes up and down.
Anticipation. One of the 12 Principles of Animation, it isn't exactly about smoothness, but it is part of starting a move, along with ease-in. A standing character will first shift their weight onto one foot, before lifting the other foot and stepping out. Before throwing something, or punching, the puppet will pull its arm back. These moves also need to be eased in and out. At the other end, after the action, there is Follow Through.
Actually, have a look at the 12 Principles of Animation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_basic_principles_of_animation . They were developed in the 1930s by Disney animators for 2d drawn animation, but most of it applies to stop motion as well.
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