Old-fashioned cartoon movement

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mortschultz
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Old-fashioned cartoon movement

Post by mortschultz » Sun Nov 04, 2007 3:01 am

Hello,

What type of keyframe interpolation would I choose if I wanted to achieve a style of animation like the Flinstones or Yogi Bear? The movement in those cartoons was smooth, yet almost jerky. Would I choose step as my style of keyframe interpolation or linear because smooth seems too smooth. Any help would be great! Thank you!
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slowtiger
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Post by slowtiger » Sun Nov 04, 2007 10:21 am

You need to study your subject first. Get a decent DVD and play it frame-by-frame.

Much animation on Flintstones seems to be done on two's (I don't have any copy here). You could mimick that effect by setting your fps to 12, or by putting a keyframe every 2 frames while having the project play at 24 fps. Of course those latter keys need to be set to step.
mortschultz
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Post by mortschultz » Sun Nov 04, 2007 10:15 pm

you are quite a genius...it looks so much better when i do that! thank you very much!
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realsnake
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Post by realsnake » Mon Dec 10, 2007 3:10 am

i guess flinstone type of cartoons were done by flash and Toon boom type of animation software in cut out styles. I hope u could do much better in AS 5..
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jahnocli
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Post by jahnocli » Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:32 am

No -- all of the original Hanna Barbera made-for-TV stuff was done the traditional way, ink on cels.
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realsnake
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Post by realsnake » Mon Dec 10, 2007 3:46 pm

ooo i think i need to improve my knowledge....
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:51 pm

Computerized animation in prime time is still fairly new although it has taken over pretty much. Not sure if anyone uses ink on cell animation these days.

The Simpson's switched to "digital" for the 15th season (that was about 5 years ago right? I'm not a big fan). But it uses a digital "ink" process with the "old fashioned" concept of cells.

The drawings are scanned in, painted and composited with backgrounds then out put to video or film. This is still nearly identical to how animation has always been produced. The computer just speeds up the inking process.

-vern
Bones3D
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Post by Bones3D » Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:12 am

To start, a lot of the older cartoons were animated at 12 - 15fps due to limitations imposed on staff and resources of the time period. (Many studios back then were even limited to painting cels and keeping them around just long enough to shoot the frame before washing the cel sheets and reusing them again later on.)

Next, characters rarely had their entire bodies keyframed more than once every few seconds. Instead, the characters usually had their bodies divided up into different cel layers to prevent any unnecessary repetative drawing of non-moving body parts. So, a character might have had individual cels for the torso, the limbs and the head, with mouth shapes and facial expressions layered on top of those. (If you look closely in these older cartoons, these layered cels often cast a drop shadow onto the backdrop based on their order in the stack.) You'll also notice that almost all of the old Hanna Barbera characters have what initially seem like unnecessary collars around their necks. This was done to eliminate the issue of trying to seamlessly link a character's head to the torso in favor of a more rigid object that could be rotated as needed.

Finally, you'll notice that almost all Hanna Barbera cartoons use repetative pan backdrops. This helped to create a lot of motion on the screen inexpensively to improve the illusion of character movement, as well as allowing a character to traverse almost infinite distances in a short amount of time. On the other hand, if you watch any still-backdrop sequences, the character movements were often created using motion blur lines, especially in instances where a character takes off running out of the frame.

In terms of replicating the general look and feel in modern animation programs, you're best bet is to stick to switch-layered animation as much as possible and avoid automatic tweening between key frames. You'd be surprised exactly how much of these older animated shows relied upon misdirecting the viewer's eyes to complete the illusion of fluid, life-like motion, when very little ever actually moved at all.
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Samb
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Post by Samb » Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:59 am

I really don't like to do frame by frame animation with switch layers.
its so hard do draw a new frame, cause you can't just look at the previous frame.
I really like to see the previous frame, for example have a look at this:
http://www.benettonplay.com/toys/flipbo ... /guest.php
and old version of that programm showed even more previous frames (they got more and more grayed out).
you just can't do that easily with anime studio, so I try to avoid frame by frame work as much as I can... even if it won't be looking as good as frame by frame animationen :?
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Post by slowtiger » Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:26 pm

a lot of the older cartoons were animated at 12 - 15fps
Sorry, this is a common misconception, or wrong use ot the term "fps".

fps meaning "frames per second" always means the projection speed of film (or video). Because of that origin, this speed is a) fixed for a given technical system, like 24 fps for film, 25 fps (PAL) or 30 fps(NTSC) for video, and b) is a constant speed for a whole movie or video tape - or video file on a computer.

Compare this with number of drawings for one second of animation. If 12 drawings are distributed onto 24 frames of film, each drawing ends on 2 frames, this is called "animating on two's". (I've already written too often about this topic ...)
the older cartoons
We must be a bit more exact - I read "older cartoons" like in "from 1930", but the original poster asked for Flintstones. And even the Flintstones had their classical period (praised by John Kricfalusi a lot) and their not-so-classy later seasons where the cheapness of production really showed.

But Bones' observations are correct. This setup was called "Limited Animation" as opposed to the "Full Animation" of Disney or Fleischer, although both already split up characters onto separate levels. UPA explored that direction a bit more, but Hanna-Barbera were the first to build a complete system out of this.

To learn more about that time, I recommend http://cartoonmodern.blogsome.com/ and the book about it, http://www.chroniclebooks.com/site/cata ... tore=books. It mainly focuses on the design and the people behind it, I'd like to have a DVD one day to study the old animation ...
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Post by Bones3D » Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:32 pm

slowtiger wrote:
a lot of the older cartoons were animated at 12 - 15fps
Sorry, this is a common misconception, or wrong use ot the term "fps".

fps meaning "frames per second" always means the projection speed of film (or video). Because of that origin, this speed is a) fixed for a given technical system, like 24 fps for film, 25 fps (PAL) or 30 fps(NTSC) for video, and b) is a constant speed for a whole movie or video tape - or video file on a computer.

Compare this with number of drawings for one second of animation. If 12 drawings are distributed onto 24 frames of film, each drawing ends on 2 frames, this is called "animating on two's". (I've already written too often about this topic ...)
the older cartoons
We must be a bit more exact - I read "older cartoons" like in "from 1930", but the original poster asked for Flintstones. And even the Flintstones had their classical period (praised by John Kricfalusi a lot) and their not-so-classy later seasons where the cheapness of production really showed.

But Bones' observations are correct. This setup was called "Limited Animation" as opposed to the "Full Animation" of Disney or Fleischer, although both already split up characters onto separate levels. UPA explored that direction a bit more, but Hanna-Barbera were the first to build a complete system out of this.

To learn more about that time, I recommend http://cartoonmodern.blogsome.com/ and the book about it, http://www.chroniclebooks.com/site/cata ... tore=books. It mainly focuses on the design and the people behind it, I'd like to have a DVD one day to study the old animation ...
I acknowledge the terminology issues, but I prefer to avoid using cryptic terms like "animating on the twos" whenever possible, because it's confusing to users unfamiliar with such concepts.

Of course, if anyone would like to familiarize themselves on such topics, I recommend checking The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams. It's literally overflowing on useful animation concepts and techniques that still remain valid to this day, despite the changes in the tools currently being used.
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slowtiger
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Post by slowtiger » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:30 pm

Hm, but wouldn't you agree that everyone exploring this field of animation seriously should at least learn some of the basic concepts and common terms? I say he should. But I've experienced a lack of knowledge and disagreement about terms even in animation industry, which is a shame.
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Post by Bones3D » Thu Dec 13, 2007 7:36 am

slowtiger wrote:Hm, but wouldn't you agree that everyone exploring this field of animation seriously should at least learn some of the basic concepts and common terms? I say he should. But I've experienced a lack of knowledge and disagreement about terms even in animation industry, which is a shame.
You're overlook one issue here. Some of these concepts, such as "animating on the twos", are outdated and quickly becoming obsolete as we've been moving away from film to an entirely digital system. We're no longer limited to editing content by physically splicing and cutting film with absolute specifications.

As such, "animating on the twos" no longer implies a specific number of frames as it did back when the industry was primarily film-based. Instead, it simply means to animate at 50% of the total frames per second of the intended output format.

On the other hand, telling someone to "animate at 12 frames per second" means just that... 12 frames per second. The output format has no bearing on the number of frames the animator chooses to draw for every one second of footage.

On top of that, because many of us will likely be working in an entirely digital environment, the actual framerate you choose to work is no longer that important in itself. The computer can simply upsample the framerate to match any playback system in post without affecting the animation quality itself. (Not the same as tweening the animation frames, which does affect the quality directly.)

Is it important to understand the traditional roots of animation today? Of course, but you have to keep in mind that the standards and techniques used in the industry are inevitably going to change with the technology.

Heck, I've been doing 3D animation myself since the early 90s and I'm still learning the ropes even now. When I first started out, everything had to be animated vertex by vertex. Smoothing objects in your scenes had to be done manually by creating highly complicated meshes.

Nowadays, we have fancy tools like inverse kinematics and instant catmull-clark object smoothing, which are even standard on even the most basic of consumer level 3D tools.

My techniques may have changed to accomodate these new tools, but there are a number of concepts from my early animation days I still employ because they are familiar to me personally.

Yet, even now, I acknowledge that I'm eventually going to need to relearn everything I already know over the next few years, simply because that is the nature of the industry as it exists today.
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heyvern
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Post by heyvern » Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:42 am

Interesting discussion.

I only discovered the concept of animating on twos very recently. It took me a while to understand it. Nearly all of my animation experience has been with 3D applications and tweening between key frames or what I think is called "pose to pose". I don't think I looked so closely at the old Hanna Barbara cartoons I grew up with as a child. I didn't try to replicate that when I started animating.

I have this bias against the "choppy" style of animation popular with anime and "old fashioned" animation styles. Lately though I have learned why this style is used. It appears to require less "effort" to some degree. But I still have a bias towards "smooth" animation regardless of the extra effort. Besides which... none of the tools I use have the ability to easily create the effect of animating on twos.

I have to admit after saying all this that I see the attraction of animating on twos. I might experiment with it.

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Post by slowtiger » Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:02 pm

(now it gets really interesting ...)
The output format has no bearing on the number of frames the animator chooses to draw for every one second of footage.
I disagree. Although it is possible to tell a computer to play back a video file at virtually any frame rate (up to about 60 fps), this doesn't mean that it's a good idea to produce in just a randomly chosen frame rate. Why?

1. Film and TV still have a fixed playback frame rate. 24, 25 and 30. That's it. Add to it the quasi-standard of youtube's 15 fps, and you're done.

2. Although there are tools to convert frame rates, animation content suffers extremely when undergoing this surgery. Everybody knows how an animated movement can be destroyed when frames get entirely dropped during conversion - it might happen that of all things just the keys get deleted!

Converting the other way round (less to more fps) does something different, it adds frames which get composed of existing ones, with a strange double exposure look.

3. Since classy animation extremely depends on the clear definition of every drawing, those artifacts are not acceptable. It would be liketor andom lyspill blank sallo veryo rtext - the mean ingis stillt here,b utwhob others toread itany more? *g* It destroys the "illusion of life", at least spoils it significantly.

4. 3D CGI stuff is a bit easier in this respect because (within the predominant style) visually it is more like life action footage. Animation has sharply defined corners, outlines and fills, which make every artifact stand out prominently. The technology simply does not care for animation. All its filters and codecs are designed for life action reference footage. Procedures which work pretty well for life action (and most 3D CGI) wreak havoc with drawn animation, as everybody with a DVD player can experience: digital noise reduction swallows outlines, pulldown procedures add or subtract frames and destroy movement, and so on.

(4a. As long as you're still within your animation software, it is possible to avoid some of these. Because you're able to re-calculate playback frame rate (in AS and elsewhere), it is possible to render for different fps without losing keyframes. Once the material is a rendered video file, you can't avoid the described effects.)

5. Film and TV producers don't accept material which isn't "broadcast quality". In animation this means, a frame of film or video must hold exactly one frame of animation - no double exposure, no dropped keys. Changing between 24 and 25 fps is no problem there, conversion between 30 and 25 is, but still is accepted - otherwise there would be no american animation shown in european TV, and vice versa.
it simply means to animate at 50% of the total frames per second of the intended output format
It's not that easy. Sure, on the first level it means just that: reduce the amount of drawings. But "animate on twos" means more: it means to be able to switch to ones at any moment, and back again to twos and whatever.

6. The playback frame rate (fps) only defines the smallest possible increment in time. (Since I come from film, it is 1/24 of a second for me.) An empty X-sheet gives me a raster of 24 frames per second - and within this raster I am completely free to plan my animation. I could do a part on ones because it is a fast and important movement which needs some impact. I could do other parts on twos, mainly dialogue, because it is movement at normal speed and doesn't need further definition. I could even do some parts on fours if the movement is slower than normal, or put an entire character or parts of it on hold.

It is very much like a musical composition with its use of notes of different length. It is a rhythm on the smallest possible scale, the single frame.

Funny enough the few attempts to create drawn animation entirely on ones lack a certain dynamic. My favourite example would be "The Thief and the Cobbler" (see http://thethief1.blogspot.com/ for some more information) which was done on ones and, IMO, suffers from over-animation a lot - it's just too smooth to be interesting.

7. Drawn animation isn't life action. It is an abstraction of real movement as much as it is a visual abstraction of the real world. As well as the artists decides to leave out separate hairs in favour of just an outline filled with colour to represent a hairdo, as well he decides to leave out several levels of movement in favour of the few he choses to express his idea.

This goes as far as a 2D animator is able to create absolutely impossible movements, up to the level of not really showing any movement at all, but just a sequence of frames of wild strokes which in projection deliver an idea of motion and emotion without actually creating any illusion of movement at all.

8. Since any decision about how many drawings and where to place them in time is an artistic one (or should be), your statement
Some of these concepts, such as "animating on the twos", are outdated and quickly becoming obsolete as we've been moving away from film to an entirely digital system
doesn't hold any truth. Au contraire: any software which has less options than my previous way of work is a software which restricts me - and I will not use it. Fortunately AS doesn't do that: I could work on twos if I like to, and I know the trick how to switch to ones eventually, although it is not really comfortable. In worst case I always could re-arrange rendered images in another application to create any sophisticated timing.

Of course it is possible that you will never run in any of these problems in your whole professional life because you work in 3D CGI. My position is different: not only I come from film, I also have a background in experimental and underground film which is quite different from your average animated TV series. And I worked in a professional studio right then when they made the transition from painted cels and rostrum camera to digitally coloured and composited animation.
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