Reference in Animation

Posted at Aug 17th, 2013 by AnimDesk.

The term “live action” refers to the filming on actors (or animals) performing planned scenes for the cartoon characters before any animation begins. “Imaginative action” is the kind of animation that comes straight from the animator’s imagination and no use of live action scenes is needed.

From time to time, almost every production studio will use a piece of film to perfect parts of the animated characters, in a way an animator could not reproduce in his mind.

The use of live action film led to very important discoveries. Live footage either “shock” an animator or teaches him. It could stir imagination or inspire new ideas in the mind of the animator.

Running film at a half-speed for action analysis was helpful for general understanding of physic principles: weight, thrusts, movement, speed, and force.

The use of characters on a film not only helped convey better movements and weight helps convey personality to the characters.

Cameron Fielding - Using reference from iAnimate on Vimeo.

With these two new discoveries, animated characters received new dimension of personalities and essence on the movie. In the early days, the only way to study film was to trace it frame by frame via a rotoscope machine. This kind of work is very time consuming, tedious and boring. But, it was the only way to go. Later on, frames have been exported to regular animation paper size. With pegs that fit perfectly on the animation disc table animators could trace out much faster.

The result was astounding, the animators after projecting the animation, could see far more movement in the overall activity of the characters. Everything was working together: chest, hips, body weight, neck and head, everything moved according to the principles of animation.

Those frames used mostly for reference, making the animator own the statement of the scene. Many pencil tests on screen showed that the traced animation doesn’t look good. Pencil tracing instead looked stiff, bulky and unnatural. The drawing abilities of the animators improved tremendously after rotoscoping many individual frames.

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