Tug of War
|This is a neat assignment that involves two characters.
You are to design two different character types, for example: tall and short, fat and thin, big and little, etc. I've created some different basic body designs if you can't come up with any of your own here.
The two characters should be standing at arms length apart, both holding onto a small object such as a towel, teddy bear, vase, etc.
The idea is to have the two characters pulling on the object, trying to get it away from the other person, but neither one is willing to give up. There should be a minimum of one pull per character with a final recovery at the end. If you want, you can begin the animation with both characters reaching for the same object at the same time and then going into the pulls.
You can have the animation escelate beyond the single pull each and have it resolve any way you want.
The other person, while not the first to react, does not let go of the object. They are jerked forwad and pulled off balance. They must then regain their balance and decide that they are going to retaliate and try to take the object away from the other person instead. The recovery from the initial pull may be blended into the anticipation for the second pull, or you can have the character recover and then anticipate (bigger than the first time) and then pull on the object, causing the other person to fall off balance an then recover.
The resolution can take any form you wish. The pulling can escelate over a series of pulls ending in one character being the victor, or it can dissolve into a wrestling match on the ground, or the larger character can lift the object and smaller character completely off the ground. You could even reverse this by having the smaller character lift the bigger one off the ground (somehow).
Obviously a sense of gravity will be involved as well as appropriate timing for the actions to read clearly.
On all the previous assignments, we've been dealing with "pose-to-pose" action or "key animation", which simply means we've been planning out the key extreme poses ahead of time. In many cases it would then require 3 - 5 inbetweens to smooth out the action with a slo-in or slo-out to the key. With this type of an action it will require mostly "straight ahead" animation with a few key poses here and there and some inbetweens added after the fact.
As per usual here are the other principles involved:
What is "Straight Ahead" animation?
The main advantage to using straight ahead animation is that it is very spontaneous and creates a very natural flow to the action you're animating. It's very similar to "improv acting" where you just kind of make it up as you go along.
You should be aware that there are many disadvantages to straight ahead animation as well; you can begin to lose control of the action and it can veer away from where you really want it to go in the scene. You won't know what it looks like until you've finished every single last drawing in the scene. With key animation, you can do a pencil test with just the keys, then play around with the timing, and then do your inbetweens knowing exactly how it's going to turn out. For example, let's say the scene is 10 seconds long. That's 240 frames or 120 drawings on two's. If you do two keys for each second, that's 20 drawings. You do your pencil test to the timing you've blocked out, make adjustments and even if you have to redraw all of them, that's only 20 drawings wasted.
If you straight ahead, you have to do all 120 drawings before you can see what it looks like, that's 6 times as many drawings. That's a lot of work.
This is not to say that with straight ahead animation, you just blindly start drawing and make up each drawing as it comes along, that's kinda dumb. You should still know what the character(s) are going to be doing and act the action out first. At the very least, plan it out in your head.
The real proper thing to do would be the following:
1) Think about what you want the characters to do.
This is a slight variation of pose-to-pose animation but the key point is to plan. Remember the old saying: "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail".
Analyse what happens step by step.
One character will always be the initiator of the action and the other character will have to react
I've kinda already gone through the thought process above in the explaination of what straight ahead animation is.
The other variation on this would be to do a combination of straight ahead and pose-to-pose
Another option is to just animate the main moving parts first. Start on drawing #1 by doing the entire characters body. Then on #2, just draw the parts that move, like say, the arm. If the legs don't move, don't draw them yet. You can come back and fill them in later. If they move starting on drawing # 15, then start drawing them then. 2 - 14 will be trace backs of #1.
You can also do this with secondary action and overlapping elements.
The problem here is that you can have the idea in your head of what you want to have happening at the moment you're doing the drawings of the other parts of the body, then when you come back to do the secondary action later, you may have forgotten exactly where and when you wanted it to happen - this is how it can get out of control on you very easily. And again, you won't know if you screwed it up until you finish all the drawings.
Be sure to do your timing at the thumbnail stage.
Hopefully, it just requires some inbetweens to slow some of the actions down a bit.
I truly prefer the combination of pose-to-pose and straight ahead - it gives you far more control and less pain after the fact.
So, let's get started!