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  • Art Animation: Creative Storytelling and Abstract Expression - Chapter 2

    Art Animation: Creative Storytelling and Abstract Expression Chapter 2 Creative Methods of Production and Style In an effort to inspire experimentation and creative exploration, this chapter presents an overview of a wide variety of media used in creating art animations. The medium can have a profound effect on the visual outcome of an animation and dictate the production methodology. The skills and aptitude necessary to work with each medium varies. Some media such as 3D computer animation continually evolve and require technical training and years of practice to perfect while others are much more accessible and easy to master. This chapter does not provide technical training, a list of tools, or the step-by-step procedure necessary to create animations in the various media discussed. Instead, the reader is offered a glimpse into the creative potential of a wide range of animation media, techniques and styles.

    2.0 Clemens Kogler, Stuck in a Groove, 2010, Austria, 04:05

  • Art Animation: Creative Storytelling and Abstract Expression - Chapter 2

    Technique and Style

    There are a wide variety of media available to use for animation. Animators usually work in the medium that they feel comfortable with or excited about, while others pick a medium that best supports the concept of the work. There are many animators that are known for a specific medium while others are recognized for their ability to animate in a wide variety of media. All animation media listed in this chapter can be used to convey an infinite number of ideas. It is important to understand the strengths and limitations of the medium because certain ideas may be easier or more difficult to express using it. For instance, if the concept involved transformation, it is much easier to express this using a pencil or clay whereas it would be a bit more difficult to do metamorphosis using puppet or collage animation. Each media also has its own visual aesthetic that adds to the emotive quality of an animation. If you love the shimmery quality of charcoal or direct on film techniques, it would be very difficult to obtain that look using computer graphics. The technical limitations must also be factored in when deciding which medium to use. Sand animation is not able to depict a lot of fine detail whereas the use of 3D computer animation allows us to zoom further and further into an object revealing many levels of granularity. Style is the mode in which you express your idea within a medium. All of the animations in this book display a unique style that often can be associated directly to the animator that created them. An interesting exercise is to search for an animators name on the internet and compare the style of the animators various animations. Developing and refining your own personal style involves years of exploration and experimentation. Being able to vary your style is also an asset when working at an animation company. Replicating animation styles is useful to develop technical skills but if you want your work to be recognized for its creativity, it is important to move beyond that and express your individuality as an artist through your own personal style.

    2.1 Peter Clark, Daniel Uribe, Yeojin Shin, Memory Stream, 2014, USA, 01:00

  • Art Animation: Creative Storytelling and Abstract Expression - Chapter 2

    Digital Animation Regardless of the medium employed, most animation today uses digital technology in some way. From digital pencil tests to color correcting frames, the ways in which computers assist animators are endless. For the sake of clarity, this section will deal with animation that primarily depends upon the computer for the creation and manipulation of images, as well as the ability to animate them. 3D Computer Animation 3D animation has also found a home with experimental animators as well as animators who focus primarily on narrative works. First the animator must choose a 3D modeling program and learn the technical aspects of this chosen medium. This endeavor is a lifelong pursuit as the programs are always being updated and each project presents its own set of challenges that result in learning new digital techniques. It is essential that you love problem solving and technical challenges if you want to be a 3D computer animator. The process of creating a 3D animation always begins with the development of the individual elements. Most often they are created using simple polygons, curves or surfaces and arranged to form more complex objects. The modeling programs allow an animator the ability to push and pull parts of the geometry to create intricately detailed surfaces. After objects are created, the next step is often to add textures. This can be done procedurally through the computer, using a digital paint program or by adding digital photographs. 3D modeled, articulated characters require a skeleton and joints to be constructed. This enables an animator the ability to move limbs and other complex parts. To animate the character, an animator captures the attributes such as the position, rotation and scale of the animation at a specific point in time by setting a keyframe. After major keyframes have been set (this is called blocking) the next step is to refine the movement between the keyframes by using velocity curves to employ timing principles such as ease-in and ease-out. After the movement itself is set,virtual lights and cameras are added to the scene. To complete the piece, an animator begins the lengthy endeavor of rendering, which can take many days or weeks. Often times animators render out multiple layers such as the background and characters separately therefore allowing for individual color correction and other special effects to be applied later.

    2.2 Benjamin Ducroz, Polycon: Stadiums Queensland, 2013, Australia, 01:16

    2.3 William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, 2011, USA, 14:44

  • Art Animation: Creative Storytelling and Abstract Expression - Chapter 2

    2D Computer Animation The computer is also widely used to create animation that employs painterly, photographic and graphic techniques. 2D animation is divided into two types, raster and vector graphics. The basic unit on a computer screen is a pixel and raster graphics allows the animator to manipulate these pixels to change their colors over time. Some digital paint programs allow artists to change the various elements of the painting slowly over time, each change being captured and stored as a single frame. 2D animation programs also enable to the animator to import photographs and other graphics, cut out the elements they want and then move the images over time. These images are often layered to create aesthetically interesting collages. You can also distort images, add special effects filters to them, scale, rotate and position them, change their color over time the possibilities are endless. Some computer applications simulate traditional animation techniques whereas others have evolved to take advantage of purely digital capabilities. Vector-based animation techniques involve the manipulation of the attributes of curves and shapes. Each element of the animation exists as its own entity and it can be changed without affecting any other element in the frame. The visual look of vector-based graphics is quite distinct and can be identified by its use of hard edges and gradient or solid colored geometric shapes. Vector programs have become incredibly sophisticated and now allow the animator to create very complex shapes with textures and detail. Similar to 3D computer animation, in order to animate these objects, keyframes are used to capture the information at specific frames. It is not uncommon for a 2D animation program to include onion skinning which allows the animator to see a number of frames before and after the current frame they are working on. Besides the visual aesthetics, one of the primary differences between 2D and 3D computer animation is that you do not build the geometry of the objects and the render requirements are much less taxing.

    2.4 Lucy Blackwell, Alive, 2006, USA, 03:02

    2.5 Chris Casady, Whoops!, 2012, USA, 1:30s

  • Art Animation: Creative Storytelling and Abstract Expression - Chapter 2

    Visual Effects and Compositing Visual effects is a loosely defined term in computer animation but often refers to the simulation of natural phenomenon such as fire, explosions, smoke and fireworks. There are also an infinite number of possibilities to create non-realistic effects thus allowing the animator the ability to create fantastical worlds and dazzling abstract visualizations. Particle systems are often used to create effects that cannot be created using 3D geometry. There are often emitters that force the particles to move in a certain direction at various speeds. The emitter also controls the rate that the particles are projected outward. This controls the density of the emission. Particles are born and die and can take on a variety of forms including that of a cloud, blob, streak or a single pixel. You can also attach geometry to particles to create a cluster of objects that are controlled by the physics of the particle system calculations imagine something like a swarm of bees. Simulated forces such as gravity, turbulence, vortex, wind, etc. act upon the particles to influence their behavior. Fluid dynamics simulation is used to replicate the extr


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