Via Curiel, 8 (10min short) required 2 years of work and more than 4000 hand-made acrylic drawings. https://vimeo.com/141520314 Animation is not my field, but it's interesting nonetheless.
"An hour of my animation is made up of about twenty small films, twenty years of work and thirtyfive-thousand drawings" – Simone Massi http://www.simonemassi.it/index.php?menuid=3
That's exactly what it is. Animation is kind of my field. My friend and colleague is just now finishing his ~12 minute short (hand-drawn with cats (quadrupeds animation ffs)) which I've helped him with on some of the shots and co-directed it. It's now in editing and scoring. It took him around three years. Day in and day out the cycle you've described. It's a tough life, mostly battling yourself.
On a semi-related note, most of the animation was drawn in Harmony on a Cintiq... yet, in final stages of animation he decided to give Krita a spin (Harmony had some issues). Looks like Krita is good enough (for him) to be used in place of Harmony for next projects. He says it's better even in most cases.
1. Workflow - we've seen that since 90s when animation software became available to general public. First we've made paper to screen workflow available with (softimage) Toonz! and alike where workflow was draw on paper, scan and then check, ink, color on computer. Later on everything became digital and workflow is now, more or less, well understood. I'm not sure if you can make the workflow more approachable unless you redefine animation process. Integration with stuff like Shotgun for project tracking and stuff like that could help, but it's not related to animation itself as much as project management.
2. Technique - computers, obviously, helped pioneer new techniques like 3D, 3D with toon shading, and 'rigged' 2D puppets. Along with numerous special effects that stem from compositing world.
3. Utility while drawing - this is where most innovation came about when helping out hand-drawn animation. Now that drawing is digital, we've seen tools that help a lot. Like 'lazy mouse' approach to semi-automatic curve control while drawing, help while coloring (otherwise a boring task), etc.
4. Utility while animating - this is what you are talking about. It depends deeply on whether you want that style or not, I guess. I know a lot of animators are excited about possible advancements in this department. Basically, drawing a character 'set', if you will, in different poses and viewing angles, rigging them and then puppeteering then with manipulating bones and not drawing everything from scratch each time. It limits what you can do, but at the same time opens up volume production on a small resources scale. Now, there's a trend towards innovating tools you're talking about, where computer manipulates the rig for you based on your indirect input and not only by you manipulating the rig. Character studio from Adobe (in beta still) shows what this is about. I'm excited for this and tools like that. Challenge still is to not have everything produced like that have a certain (same) style to it.
edit: you've said you were in animation software. My speciality is more 3D - if you remember SEGA's Animanium... that's what's missing these days. I wonder why it never had a success when it came out. Animanium paired with dead easy rigging would make a splash. Also, something like that, but that allows for real time puppeteering on a touch surface (tablet or whatever) would help A LOT. For example, a rig with controls where you can animate in real time multiple control points at the same time... record that... then do another run where you animate only one point, etc. It's amazing something like that doesn't exist yet. I know you can do it in 3dsmax to an extent, but not really.
Do artists still have to redraw large parts of every image still?
There is however a movement that rejects all that for entirely artistic reasons, and insist on painting each frame from scratch by hand. Doing so gives the animation a really unique (and in my opinion cool) look that is hard to mimic using computers. However it is extremely labor intensive and is basically only used for short animations done entirely as labors of love.
Almost 30,000 frames, painted by hand on glass, producing probably some of the most visually striking animation you are likely to see.
Older cartoons are easy examples of this. The ones where you can spot the parts to be animated because they are lighter in color than the rest of the frame. This is due to the layering of animated over background. Modern workflows in computers has more-or-less eliminated this visual flaw.
I would say that was the technology of the time. A common cause of this problem was that the cells were often not completely transparent. So the differences became more apparent as more layers were stacked. I guess we could agree that maybe they used a cheaper version of the technology.
Newer cartoons don't have to use the flat shading on backgrounds method because today's technology is different than the past. Cartoons of today can be drawn and shaded however the artists wish and they will not be limited by the cell layering method. Unless, their production methods force the issue, which is still possible.
But you are correct there ways to overcome the problems of the layering method, but it wasn't worth doing for most projects at the time.
It's simply due to when you paint your cel, you can either paint it flat (like a bucket fill) or shade it when you paint. You get an inked one (photocopied) where ink is on one side, you flip it over and paint behind the ink lines. When you paint, you paint as anything else, thus you can shade it. However, keeping shading consistent and in motion between each frame (frame, not keyframe, since you're painting in-betweens as well) is mission impossible task. It's extremely intensive process which is 'dancing' around because you can't keep shading consistent. What you will get is what someone else has linked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnZD6RBt9S0 this was oil painted/shaded per frame.
Don't get me wrong, I've spent hundreds of dollars building a third-rate home security system from scratch, and it's almost to a useable state. But it's hard because I want to do it the hard way. I could have something much, much better for less money if I was actually focused on building quality efficiently.
That being said, overall I enjoyed the short film. He's got a lot of talent and dedication.
One of the components of my system is a computer that can literally do 90% of the functions I want, but I'm just using it as a dumb proxy.
Just because my art can do something does not mean it's not art.
Your line is wrong.
At the very least, it's valid to compare them on the level of work that goes into each, compared to the benefit that each provides (in one case, a functional security system, and in the other, a piece of entertainment).
This is annoying because if your screen refreshes at 60fps, you can't show 24 equally-spaced frames, but you could show 12. I'm not sure why they don't just standardize on 12fps for their releases. I'm also not sure why video players don't detect this and assume that the actual time code for the duplicated frame is in the middle when using temporal interpolation (which is how I avoid switching refresh rates to watch things, it's good enough already).
This isn't dedication, its stupidity. I have chronic shoulder pain from a repetitive stress injury and I wish I had as many warning signs as this guy did. I probably wouldn't have spent the last 17 years in constant pain.
I did think the end result was excellent, but its unnecessary to risk one's health.
By the way, the clip in the article is not from the movie - here's the trailer: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_ADm0BSHMeA&feature=youtu.be
No. Most cartoon animation uses a variable cadence, including Ghibli. Assuming 24fps film they may animate every 1st, 2nd (12fps) or 3rd (8fps) frame. TV shows might occasionally drop down to every 4th frame (6fps), but that tends to look pretty bad.
And it's often not as simple as fixed ratios, there are more complicated patterns like 10100101001. Different layers can also be animated at different intervals, e.g. the swaying grass is done on even frames, the rain drops on odd frames while the character moves at yet another rate.
Animating on 1s is rarely done though, usually for action scenes or similar things that are supposed to look especially dynamic.
Assuming he's still capable of drawing at all. It looks like he's ruined his wrist.
Also, tangentially, how do you make money when you're working 15-hour days on your passion project for 4 years straight?
Anyway, I'm really looking forward to watching this! Any Bay Area screenings in the near future?
You can definitely kickstart something like this, though. Once you have something great out there, making a trailer and pitching it to the Internet and hoping to get enough money to live off while making it is a possibility.
It is just never a certainty. Any artistic passion project must be done for the final product, not for any hopeful long term fiscal reimbursement for it, because its success is bound to how much the people that come into contact with it agree with your valuation of your own work.
The real question is, how in the 21st century are more people not able to pursue their passions like this.
At the risk of wandering even more off topic, it's pretty dispiriting when you see the leaders of the pixel art community with 20k+ followers begging to do a commission for for 25 bucks.
That's not my definition of success.
Regarding more production oriented software environments - it reminds me of chapters in the Mythical Man Month discussing the considerations to team size/composition and it's tension with consistency of design and communications cost.
I certainly believe that having a single mind -- or at most two or three people who understand one another super-well -- setting direction often leads to better results than strict "team" efforts.
Alternatively, projects like Minecraft seem to do really well with a single creator. I think it depends on the clarity the creator has about what they want to create.
And anyhow, snake demons are people too. Don't be speciesist.
Not to mention automated style coherence between artists.
Future artists will likely indirectly manipulate their art, influencing various forms of machine learning that will do most of the leg work. In a way, matte painting artists already work in similar fashion. Their art usually begins as pre-existing images that are manually blended into a coherent image, with original work added later.
Modern digital techniques aren't without their drawbacks, hence why hand-drawn is often viewed as superior. A machine learning workflow augmenting hand-drawn might be the best of both worlds.
There was a project (I think at Google) that applied machine learning to various famous painters' works, so that it could generate new "paintings" in the style of the old masters.
I imagine something like that could be used for illustration, like, say - a digital drawing pad like Wacom, that would over time learn your "style" of brush/line strokes, color preferences, etc. To animate a series of drawings, it could produce interpolations between frames, as if you hand-drew them yourself. And it'd get better at it, the more you draw.. In a way it would become an extension of the artist.
 e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0Z6SOlWbds
However, there definitely is a real truth to the saying "too many chefs in the kitchen". You don't want to waste the chef's time with table service or janitorial duties, but you can't have 20 chefs all arguing about the menu or how to prepare food. The problem with too many companies, though, is they want the product done sooner, and think that adding more people will get it done faster, just like having 9 women will cause you to bring a baby to term in 1 month....
But it does seem like some places are overstaffed and do that as a way to mask terrible management.
>take less man-hours
>the product will be superior
This is subjective. There are very good games to come out studios of 1-2 developers and studios of hundreds of developers.
When you work by yourself: You never compromise. You dont need to spend time communicating with other members of the team. You dont have errors due to miscommunication. You dont have disagreements. Meetings to decide things happen in your head and take a few minutes instead of hours. You spend 0 time coordinating the team. Project/time management of the team becomes a triviality rather than a full-time managment job.
It's very much a passion project for him, much like "Nova Seed" seems to be for DiLiberto. He isn't working entirely alone (he's got actors — though as a Kung Fu black belt, he's doing most of the motion capture for the fight scenes himself — voice talent, a composer for the score, &c), but it's very much his vision, and his baby.
This kind of thing takes discipline and dedication of a sort most of us can't even imagine, let alone execute.
(And if you haven't, please do tell him what you wrote there - he's probably struggling more than he lets on to finish his work, and a bit of encouragement and praise goes a long way, particularly when you're working solo.)
See you there!!
Like code I wrote 6 months ago looks like schlock, but that's not something anybody sees.
The author live-streams his animation work.
Amazon is saying 2017 (unavailable)