Saturday, March 21, 2009
Finding my inner Pintoff
If there's anything worse than my Inner Critic, it's my Inner Tycoon. This is the guy with the appetite for a 14-course gourmet banquet even though he barely has resources for a drive-thru snack. The Inner Tycoon's boundless ambition manages to turn every personal undertaking into something so grandiose that no less than a lifetime of work and a multi-million dollar underwriting would do it justice. And as a consequence, I give up before I even start.
The other night both the Critic and Tycoon shut up long enough for me to start noodling around with DigiCel's FLIPBOOK program again for the first time in almost a year. With nothing in mind, I just started out with a simple figure, which I drew and colored in AutoDesk SKETCHBOOK PRO. On separate layers, I did four leg positions for the left leg, then copied them and shifted them around on the opposite side of the body for the right. I copied the body and made a second position (a "down" to match the "up"). A single arm sufficed, which I shifted around to swing slightly. In relatively no time, I had composited the elements to make four keys for a walk cycle, which I exposed in FLIPBOOK on 8's.
I fully intended to inbetween it, but I was surprised to find it didn't look all that awful on its own. I think the color had a lot to do with it, which says a lot for how much color can validate a drawing. I decided to push on forward and see how much I could do without:
No Squash & Stretch
No Follow thru
No Overlap etc...
These are the things that are considered essential,especially in "full animation" obviously. These are the things that took me long hard years to learn. And I'm not sorry I took the time to learn them. But I kind of realized as I stripped them away, that maybe I had confused them with what "makes" animation, when maybe they are really just things that enhance animation. Maybe all these years I have been confusing the forest with the trees. This stupid little clip is not much to look at, but it was kind of a breakthrough for me. It still manages to come to life in its own crude way, despite the minimal extent and number of expressions and drawings. There wound up being less than sixty images in all, exposed over the course of about 253 frames at 24fps. (Afterward I added a long hold at the end to match the Hoyt Curtain music I could not resist borrowing for the clip.)
The other big deal is that this took all of about 5 hours do do and contains about 14.5 seconds of real animation. In color no less. Considering that my average as a feature animator was around 8 feet a week (6 seconds), this means I was able to beat my week's average in about two hours. Of course it can't compete with the big studio animation I have done, but as an individual, I never can anyway. On a basic level it still achieves the same thing full animation does: communicating visually through 2 dimensional symbols. I could do better, and I intend to, but I have been putting things off with all kinds of excuses, like feeling I need more powerful and expensive software. Maybe I don't. Maybe I just need to curb my appetite a bit without dampening my enthusiasm. My favorite quote lately comes from Teddy Roosevelt, who said: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
Of course, my friend Len Glasser learned all of this when he was about 19, from a beatnik named Ernie Pintoff, who made the award winning animated shorts FLEBUS, THE VIOLINIST and THE CRITC. Len went on to make his own award winning short films and TV commercials, ultimately going on to "out-Pintoff" Pintoff, in the astute and accurate words of Amid Amidi.
Here's a typical Len Glasser classic on YOUTUBE.