Introduction to Animation Filmmaking | Eve Leonard | Skillshare

Introduction to Animation Filmmaking

Eve Leonard, Director / Animator / Illustrator

Introduction to Animation Filmmaking

Eve Leonard, Director / Animator / Illustrator

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12 Lessons (1h 20m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Animation Filmmaking

    • 3. Clean Up

    • 4. Alpha Channels and Rotoscoping

    • 5. Staging the Scene

    • 6. Creating Assets

    • 7. Camera

    • 8. Lighting

    • 9. Compositing

    • 10. Sound

    • 11. Rendering & Sharing

    • 12. Distribution

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About This Class

Want to know how to take your animations to the next level? Join animator and educator Eve Leonard to learn how animators use filmmaking practices to create compelling animations.

Students will get tips and advice to develop beginner projects, such as a bouncing ball or walk cycle, into portfolio work. The content covered is this course is theoretical and technical. Techniques can be applied to any computer software used for image manipulation and compositing. Any animation medium can be used - stop motion, 2D animation, 3D animation, etc. The goal of this course is to introduce beginner level animators to concepts that artists use in animated films.

This course combines filmmaking concepts with practical application so beginner students can apply creative problem solving into their own work. Any artist considering taking their skills to the next level should consider beginning that journey with this course.

Software used for demonstration in this course: Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.

Meet Your Teacher

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Eve Leonard

Director / Animator / Illustrator


Hello, my name is Eve. I'm a multi-disciplined artist who has been teaching for 20 years. My professional practice includes animation, compositing, illustrating and film directing. Thank you for visiting and checking out my work!

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1. Introduction: Hello. My name is Eve Leonard, and welcome to introduction to animation filmmaking. I've been teaching animation and film production for the better part of 20 years. I'm currently over at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, teaching in the Digital Arts department. I've designed this course for Skillshare because I was a little frustrated about the availability for intermediate level tutorials. Most of the animation tutorials I've come across are mostly either technical, or they show very basic methods of animation production. This course is designed to take any animator with very beginner or rudimentary skills, and allowing those projects to be developed into short films. If you've never made a short film before, but you're interested to taking your skills to the next level, this is absolutely the course for you. I would also like to point out this course is not software specific. I use the Adobe Creative Cloud as part of my technical demonstrations. However, the concepts we will be discussing can be applied to any software that does digital image compositing and any digital manipulation. This class will cover a comprehensive workflow for animation production, so you can repurpose these steps for larger projects. Here's some examples of commercial short films, so you can understand their practical application outside of a personal portfolio. I hope those examples inspired you to make your own project. Thanks so much for watching. I'll see you in the next lesson. 2. Animation Filmmaking: Hello. Welcome back to animation film-making. This is lesson 2, animation film-making techniques. Now, before we begin, I would like to define what we're talking about so that we were on the same page. Now, I define animation film-making techniques as using post-production tools and image manipulation in order to make a short film. Quick camera note before we move forward, I do have this amazing script that I've written for you guys, but unfortunately it is slightly off screen. So anytime that my eyes start down, it's not that I'm ignoring you, it's that I do need to read my script in order to communicate the best way to you. When we talk about film we're usually referring to live action film. Animation is just a technique that's used for storytelling the same way we use podcasts or theater. Yet, when we talk about animated films and pop culture, we're usually referring to something that's family friendly, and in the action adventure genre. The reason for this is because animated films are extremely expensive, and time-consuming. The average time it takes to make a live action film is about 18 months, compare that with making an animated film which takes roughly about five years, from script to screen. Because of the amount of time it takes to make an animated film, studios need to recoup all of those expenses, so in the family friendly action-adventure genre, you are able to get the widest possible audience. Yes, I know what you're going to say. What if Your Name, the Japanese animated high school drama, science fiction feature, grossed $400 million worldwide? What about Loving Vincent, the hand painted film about the last days in the life of Vincent van Gogh, that was nominated in 2018, for an Academy Award? So what brings you to Auvers? Or what about, I Lost My Body, which was just nominated for Best Animated Feature this year? If you don't know any of these films, please do yourself a favor and look them up, they're absolutely amazing. But these are exceptions. They are not the rule. Shorts, on the other hand, are an excellent way to experiment with storytelling, and do not demand the same time and attention that a larger feature film needs. The Internet has exploded with a variety of genres, and techniques, in order to expose these films to a new audience. Here's some examples from the National Film Board of Canada. Like me, Ryan is a filmmaker [inaudible] Ryan is an animated documentary about famed NFB animator, Ryan Larkin, and his daily struggle with alcohol addiction. He is the creator of several short films, two of which have secured his place in the history of animated film-making. You want me to confess? Freaks of Nurture is a family drama about a young professional artist comparing her life to her mother, who has made mothering abilities into a career. Hello. Hey, mum. It's an emergency. I'm freaking out. My deadline is tomorrow, and I'm not going to make it. Blinkity Blank is an experimental film that uses unconventional techniques, with sounds and shapes, to illustrate movement. Our class will be teaching you how to make films in three distinct areas. Production techniques. How to reuse assets rather than starting from scratch. This proves helpful when creating your portfolio, or starting your own short film. Introduction to cinematography. How to use the virtual camera as a creative tool. Beginning animators wait too long to consider the camera. I will be showing you how to use the camera effectively, with purpose. Production design. How to use lighting and compositing tools to build a stage for a scene. An animated asset can be as small or as big as you like. We will discuss production design as a way to improve your storytelling skills. To get started, you will begin by researching your interests and collecting your work. Here's a two-part assignment to get you started on this project. Research. Start looking around on the Web for anything animated that inspires you. I've included a few sites to get you started. Find about six different works of animation. They can be loops on Instagram, TV shows, video games, anything, as long as it's animated. Once you find your six, identify, who is the artist, artists, or the studio. What is the animation method? 2D, 3D, stop motion, pixelation. What is the genre? Is it comedy, drama, horror, western, slapstick, etc.? Begin to identify similarities and write of brief statement on your interest. Second, collect your animations. You will need them for this project. They can be short tests, something you did for fun, a tutorial, whatever, it must meet these criteria. Animation should be at least five seconds long, any method is fine, stop motion, pixelation, 2D, 3D, etc., no background. The animation should not have a background, or you must have the ability to remove the background. In the next lesson, we're going to discuss how to clean up this animation, so you can use it for your short film. Thank you so much for your time and attention, and I'll see you next time. 3. Clean Up: Welcome back to introduction to animation film making. This is Lesson 3, clean up. Now, clean up refers to the process of reviewing your animated asset to see if there's any mistakes or areas that you can improve. The animated asset refers to the animated element in the scene. The first step is selection. For this project, you can choose any animation that you have minus the background. The asset can be something as simple as a bouncing ball or something as complex as lip-sync animation. The asset can also be in any medium that you choose. If you're choosing your animation asset make sure to remove the background. Either the animation was created without a background or you can go back to the project files and remove the background. Here are two examples. In this first example I have a 2D animation that is four frames long, done in Adobe Photoshop using the Timeline feature. The frames have been timed so the character is staring at something before they scream. This animation was created so the background can be removed. The second example is a 44 frame stop-motion animation test that I've done. It's on top of a green screen background. I will be removing the background later on in this video. I've chosen both of these assets to be in the same scene. Before we get started, I want to address some bad habits that artists experience when they're first starting out. Artists tend to hold onto their artwork because it represents hours of hard labor, especially in animation. Even when a project demonstrates many flaws. This is a problem when an artist transitions from school into the professional environment. Part of the production process is to get feedback from your supervisors and peers. If you are unwilling to change a project based on that feedback, your skills as an artist are going to hinder. It's important to think of your skills the same way an athlete thinks of their body. You must practice your craft in order to improve. With every hour of practice, you will become more efficient with your time. Therefore, you have more time to fix significant issues. For every master painting, sculpture, film, etc, there are thousands of failures and mistakes. Give yourself permission to fail so you can improve. Part of my professional practice is to revisit foundational tutorials in order to practice a skill set that I haven't used in a while. This helps me improve my timing and it makes me more efficient in production. I encourage you to do the same. Where do you begin? Well, begin to identify projects that bring you joy. They may not be perfect, but there's at least one or two aspects of your abilities that really shine through. Begin to categorize them into skill sets. Which projects show off your automation abilities, which projects show off your design abilities. After you were done, organizing your library, you can begin selecting projects that you want to continue to work on. It can be a project you want to make longer or project that you just want to improve. I've chosen the stop-motion hand because I like the timing of the movement and the design of the hand. I've chosen to pair it with the screen tests because I feel they can fit together. The face can be reacting to the hand as it moves. I want to challenge myself to match the timing of the screen and the timing of the hand. These two pieces also match the aesthetic that I'm interested in exploring, mixing a variety of mediums so they feel like they're part of the same world. Inexpensive technology has made this approach possible with a variety of creators. Some examples of this technique can be found in cartoon networks, Amazing World of Gumballs that mixes 2D, 3D, puppetry and photography. Blink industries, Don't Hug Me, I'm scared, that often makes this live action puppetry with 2D and 3D animation. Now, the second step is evaluation. Scrubbing is the process in which you can go through your animated clip at any speed in order to identify problems. When you're scrubbing through your selected click, consider the critique in two different areas, quality and timing. Quality refers to the standard of the frame. Timing prefers to how long the frame stays on screen. Now, I can fix this in two different ways. I can make the current frames longer, or I can add a few additional frames. Since this animation is shorter than the stop motion, I'll be adjusting the timing, so both clips have the same runtime. I also want to address some sloppy incomplete issues, like right here in the hairline and in this frame over here, I have a little paint outside the edges and I also have a straight line over here. As for the hand, I feel like the timing for the animation is pretty consistent and it moves at a speed that I like. But I'll need to do a little bit more work to clean up this background. I'll be addressing that in another video. For the 3D animators out there, any issues that you are bumping into can easily be resolved by looking at the software's technical manual or by asking questions on community threads. About 90 percent of the issues I've had with any 3D animation has been resolved in this way. When you are scrubbing, I advise that you first write down all of the problems that you find with the animation before you begin resolving them. In my experience, I've found that when I'm resolving one problem, it may have a ripple effect and resolve even more problems. Or while fixing a problem, I may create additional problems. It's important to write down everything first so you can keep track of your progress. Also, keep track of where you are finding your information, it might be a good place to go back and resolve another issue if the information was good. The third step, simply cleaning up. Now that you've identified the clips that you want to use, go through and clean up the image based on what you've identified as right and wrong. In the next video, we'll break down how to remove the backdrop in stop-motion animation and discuss a few technical terms. Thank you so much for your time and attention. I look forward to seeing you next time. 4. Alpha Channels and Rotoscoping: Hello, welcome back to introduction to animation filmmaking. This is Lesson 4 alpha channels and rotoscoping. I want to spend a few minutes talking about these two technical terms. I think it's important to understand these terms because they will help you tremendously in any production. Alpha channel refers to the area of the image that is transparent in digital image compositing, I'll be using Adobe Photoshop to explain how it works. Here is the 2D scream loaded into Adobe Photoshop. It's important to understand that alpha channels refer to the transparency in your image. Now, the transparency can be used creatively for our purposes since this is an introductory course, we'll be using the transparencies as a way to composite images together. We want the background to be completely transparent, it's indicated in Photoshop by this gray and white checkered pattern. Now, Adobe Photoshop files are automatically recognized in Adobe After Effects, so I can save this as a Photoshop file, I can open it up in After Effects and all of the transparency is preserved. But let's say for argument's sake, I'm using a different kind of compositing program and I want to export this image. I can go to export as. Now, it's important here to talk about file formats, this file format PNG preserves the transparency so I can zoom in here and you can see that this drawing automatically has the checkered pattern, which indicates to me that it's transparent. But let's say I wanted to render out a JPEG file. With that selected, the JPEG format does not preserve the transparency in this particular application. If I'm exporting JPEGs, I won't have the transparent background. It's important to keep track of these things when you're getting your animated assets ready for compositing. To further demonstrate the importance of alpha channels, I'm switching over to my 3D program Autodesk Maya. Here I have my render settings open. Now, this sequence is just simple geometry with very basic materials on it. In my file output settings, I have a variety of options, I have movie options, which are AVIs and QuickTime movies, but I also have a variety of still options such as GIF or JPEG and TIF. As a 3D artist, I always recommend to render out still image sequences over movie sequences. Movie sequences are compressed in the composite, they are very difficult to add effects and have them look good, so you want to work with the highest possible quality when you're going in for compositing. You also want to have control over your image sequence. Movie files tend to be obsolete the older they become because the codecs are no longer available to read the movie file. Image sequences have a longer shelf life and they're pretty consistent between software packages. To demonstrate alpha channels, I'll be exporting a JPEG sequence and a TIFF sequence. Now, in my render settings, I will make sure that the alpha channel is selected so there is an alpha mask on every frame. Here in the composite in Adobe After Effects, I have loaded here my 2D image sequence, for demonstration purposes, I've created this star object so the star object, as I'm dragging it across my image, you can see that it is visible within the transparency, so it can move behind the object or in this case, our animated asset. Now, I would like to bring up our JPEG and our TIFF sequences so we can compare them. I'm going to start with our JPEG sequence, bringing it into my timeline as you can see immediately the background is opaque, it is not transparent. Even though the transparency was checked off in our 3D program. If you are a 3D animator and you're experiencing this first, double-check the file format that you are using JPEGs do not register transparencies. So even if you have your alpha channel selected, your transparency selected, JPEGs do not have the capacity to read transparencies. However, let's compare that to our TIFF sequence. So loading it here, it automatically registers the transparency, you can see it and it's ready for compositing. This is the best way to render out 3D objects and it's also important to understand this if you're having issues exporting. Now, let's move on to rotoscoping. Rotoscoping is the process in which an artist or a technician will trace an area to be removed from one image to be layered on top of another image. This technique is often used in image compositing in visual effects for the effects animation, or in stop-motion animation to insert a complicated background. For the stop motion, I will be rotoscoping my garbage mat in order to cut everything out that is not green for the chroma key. Here I have my stop-motion asset loaded up in the After Effect, already you can see there's issues. There's reflections off the plexiglass on the top and bottom, all around the sides are extended views of my work area but all we really want is the animation in the middle. Now, I shot this on top of a green paper so I can remove that color in After Effects you can have the effect called key light that you can see over in the timeline here. With the key light visible, I created a blue background in my composite settings so you can see the difference. Now, I remove the green and that's great, but I still have my work area and the reflections off the glass that I want to remove. I need to create a garbage mat. So with my stop-motion frames layer selected, I'm going to go up to the top in After Effects and select the Pen tool. With the pen tool selected, I'm going to just quickly draw a shape around my animation and as soon as closed off, it cuts out everything else. Now, for my short film that I will be demonstrating, I've chosen these two assets because the medically remember, I think they fit together. I want my 2D character to be reacting to this hand popping out of the ground. I'm going to adjust the garbage mat to give it more of a flat plane, I'm going to go to the very front and I'm just going to cover those knuckles and these little white pieces of clay there are going to represent just dirt rocks popping out of the ground, so that'll be my first frame. Before I move on, I'm going to go down to my timeline and reveal the menus under my mask, I'm going to select "Mask Path" and mask path is going to animate the shape of my mat. I'm going to scroll through my frames up until frame 4 this is looking pretty decent. But then at frame 5, it cuts off one of my rocks, so I'm going to grab my selection tool, select this point and I'm just going to animate quickly animate that point and this is the garbage man completely cleaned up and then with my hand moving back and forth, I want to quickly let you know that there's two effects on this stop motion layer. Notice how this hand I just wanted to point this out really quick, notice this hand I'm zooming has a lot of shadows on it. I added an effect called Matte Choker. Matte choker, it's a nice shortcut it takes all those little pixels that the key light may have missed and it quickly makes an adjustment to the gain and removes those. You can manually do this by adjusting the settings on your whatever effect you're using for the chroma key in this instance, it's key light. But After Effects has this great effect matte choker that automatically takes that out and make your life a lot easier. As you can see, I have this all nice and cleaned up and ready for compositing. Remember to finish removing the background, add keyframes where necessary, clean up the digital incomplete and just finish cleaning up to move on to the next lesson in our series. Thank you so much for your time and attention. I hope that a lot of this advice and this technical review was helpful to you in cleaning up your own animation. Before you go into the next video, make sure that your animated asset is cleaned up and it's ready for compositing. 5. Staging the Scene: Welcome back to introduction to animation filmmaking. This is lesson five, staging the scene. Let's review. You have an animated asset that's been cleaned up and ready for compositing. Now let's begin the process of building a short film around that asset. The first thing you'll need here is the sketchbook or a tablet with a sketch booking app on it. Me personally, I prefer a sketchbook just because you don't have to worry about it, losing power or data corruption, whatever, but anything is fine. The first step is to look at your animation and ask yourself, what story can I build from this? You may be saying to yourself, Eve, I animated a piece of grass blowing in the wind, how do you make this an interesting story? I would then reply, well young paddle on. Think about how you can use the grass in a larger scene. A suggestion would be to create a scene where a soldier is sitting on top of a grassy hill with his head in his hands. Loop the flowing grass, zoom in the camera and have sad piano music playing for seven seconds, or have a silhouette of two children far away in a long field as the sunsets. These are good suggestions if you're good at figure drawing, but lets say you're not that good at figure drawing. I would say, think of a landscape where you could use your flowing grass. Another suggestion would be to have a castle in the background that has been falling apart from years of neglect or an abandoned lot with sparse grass and a homemade children's fort in the background. These scenes are far more interesting to look at in a portfolio or a demo reel than the asset alone. The key here is capturing your audience's attention. Well, okay, how do you do that? Well, in order to get started, let's do a little experiment. I figure you're familiar with the internet, the content on the Internet. Now, there are millions of clips out there trying to compete for your attention every day. Let's try in a little experiment and further understand your own viewing habits. The next time you're on a streaming service or you're just wasting time on the internet, begin to identify why you're choosing certain parts of media. For a streaming service, do you go to a genre that you enjoy and scroll through until you see something that's unfamiliar or interesting. When you stop on any desired piece of media, start to ask yourself, why did you make that decision? Was it the thumbnail that they used, was it the colors they used, was it the title of whatever it is that drew you in? When you start understanding your own viewing habits, that will help you better understand how to communicate with your audience. As an educator, I believe you will better understand yourself by understanding what draws you into the content you enjoy. Be specific when you ask yourself these questions. Do you like the color or the thumbnail, or is there a particular actor you'd like to follow? Whatever the reason, begin to jot these down so that way you can apply some of these techniques to your own work. Now that you have a better understanding of your viewing habits, let's begin brainstorming what your scene can look like. Here's a few tips to get you started. Collect stories, listened to a podcast, watch shorts on the internet, read an essay, pay attention to the types of stories you are drawn to and consume stories with similar content to expand your knowledge on the subject. Retain as many perspectives as possible. Do the research, instead of typing random words in your search engine, go to the library, visit a location, and take photos with your phone. I always recommend life experience. After years of working in the industry, it's obvious to see someone who is just on an hour Internet research versus someone who's actually visited a location. Get help. I'll admit that I'm a terrible writer when I'm working alone. I often invite a friend out to a meal or watch a movie in order to get me out of a block. Luckily, I have plenty of friends who love to tell stories. I often take notes and ask to use part of their story in my own narratives. Real-life stories include little details that are sometimes difficult to conjure up on your own. Apply these ideas in your sketch book. Begin combining what you have learned from your viewing habits and what you've learned from your research. Here is a copy of my sketch book. I've taken the two animated assets that I've demonstrated and I've combined them into this haunted house like scenario where the hand is popping out of the ground and the 2D character is reacting. Now, I need to create the rest of the assets in this drawing, like the house and the tree and the background. This will be a lot of fun. In our next lesson, we'll begin listing assets that we need to make for our short scene based on our sketches, and then discuss how to make them. Thank you so much for your time and attention, and I'll see you next time. 6. Creating Assets: Welcome back to introduction to animation film-making. This is lesson 6, creating asset. You've heard me use the term assets quite a bit during this series so far. Asset refers to anything that the artist has created to be re-used in the film. Assets can be characters, props, furniture, anything in the background. Animators have libraries of assets the same way filmmakers have actors or furniture or props. As a director, I have my own personal library that I revisit in order to make experiments or to use for future projects. Now let's begin planning and creating our own assets. For this exercise, we'll need to go back to our sketchbook. I have my list. I'm going to organize my list into characters, props, environment, and background. Don't forget sounds. Make sure your list has the kinds of sounds that you will need for your scene. Sounds can be music, sound effects, dialogue, and atmosphere. Atmosphere for room tone refers to background sounds in a location. For example, if your location is in a park, you may want to walk down to your local park, find a place where there are no people and record a few minutes with your phone or any other sound recording device. After you record and collect your sounds, put them in a folder and properly label each file. We will come back to them in lesson 10. Back to the visuals. Now I need to determine how I will be making my visual assets. There are other methods that you can use for your background assets. Some of the most common are photography and matte painting. These two methods are a bit tricky. For photography, you need to make sure that you have the right image size and that it's big enough to put in your background. Also, lighting is a bit tricky with photography. If you can't match the lighting correctly, it'll be very difficult for your audience to understand that both your photographed element and your animated assets are in the same scene. They almost look like they're glued together. A matte painting is a painted representation of a background in an environment. It's to create the illusion of a larger set, what we commonly call the business set extensions. Matte paintings are two-dimensional and often depict three-dimensional spaces that require an understanding of real-world lighting. For this lesson, I will be demonstrating with matte painting, but I strongly recommend that you keep it simple and create a background using the same medium as your automated asset. For this particular point in the lesson plan, I do want to bring up copyright law. I know there are several students taking this class that operate in their own countries, and so the copyright law may vary depending on your location. With that in mind, I want to give you some general advice to keep you out of trouble as you produce your work. If you are making work on the Internet, it's easy to copy and paste photographs or designs or fan art for your projects. I often reference copyrighted material to improve my own skills for practice. However, I never use copyrighted materials for client work or commissioned work that I'm getting paid for. I encourage you to use copyrighted materials as little as possible, so that way you prevent yourself from falling in any legal pitfalls. This also includes tutorials. Did you know that tutorials are the intellectual property of the author? If you download assets for a tutorial, they are technically not yours. If you publish the result of that tutorial, you cannot claim it is your own work, it's actually the work of the author. Meaning that you're just following directions that the author has given you. If you're interested in learning more about copyright law, I highly recommend that you go to your government's website to see what that individual country's laws are about copyrighted material. I also recommend that you go to creativecommons dot org. They have excellent resources for materials that are published and distributed on the Internet. There are several things that you do need to keep in mind when you're creating your assets. Frame size. What is the size of your frame? For this project, we are working in HD format. The frame is 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels in height. This is important to know before you begin working, always research how you will be distributing your animation and find out the frame size. For backgrounds, my general rule is to create your background twice the size of your frame so you can zoom or pan inside of your background without losing quality. I will be discussing this further in future lessons. Asset size. How big is your asset in the frame? Smaller assets can be less detailed than larger assets. Color palette. Make sure your assets look like they belong in the same scene. Conceptual artists will make something called a color script, which is the color palette that determines the colors in production for any given scene. Colors can determine the time of day, mood, or genre. The aesthetic needs to be consistent to be believed. Motion parallax. Dividing your scene into foreground, midground, and background assets. This will be the topic of our next video. Thank you so much for your time and attention. Before you move on to creating your assets, I highly recommend that you check out the next lesson, motion parallax, in order to give you more information and tips on creating your assets. Thank you so much. Take care. 7. Camera: Welcome back to introduction to animation filmmaking. This is Lesson 7, camera. There's a common mistake for animators to completely disregard the camera. In animation, the camera is not a common method for image creation. We create our assets, then use the camera to capture those assets in the frame. For live action film making the camera is the first tool that artists use to master in animation and storyboarding. Considering the camera and storyboarding, my overall rule is move the camera with purpose according to plot and action. If you don't have the story reason to move your camera then don't move it. One familiar journey for my students follows this order of events; Camera ignorance, characters and props are arranged in a two-dimensional frame, similar to a sitcom, a theater stage or 2D video game. In this first Simpsons example, the crew was limited by time and funds. The action is flat along a two-dimensional access. Camera unhinged, when the artist recognizes there is a camera, it lies all over the place for no reason. In the feature Foodfight, the camera flies through the landscape in the introduction. The timing is bad because the cameras slows down when there is no action and speeds up during action, making it difficult for the audience to recognize what is going on. Then there's camera matured, the happy medium between the two, where the camera moves effectively to enhance mood for their story reveal. In The Incredibles, the camera moves with the action to enhance the momentum of the sea. In the animation process, carer placement is decided in the storyboard phase of the project. What we call pre-production. Pre-production is when the story is written, the storyboard and automatic is drawn and edited and the temp sound is recorded. Production is when assets are arranged and animated based on the storyboard and automatic. This is essential because the animation needs to know what to create and how to cheat. Now the concept of cheating is not insidious. Think about it, when you're on a live action set in front of you, you see the set and the characters and the props but sometimes there's a green screen or there's a crew around the camera. There's plenty that you do not see behind the camera or what goes on behind the set. This is the same for animation, when the camera is turned on, you see this? Behind the camera, you see this. Stop motion is the closest production method to live action, since the animators is dealing with physical objects and cameras, however, the method of animation uses the same principles. I'm demonstrating this concept in After Effects. When I'm keyframing a 2D object, I'll move it across the scene, but it won't continue to animate once it's off the screen outside of this box, it doesn't exist in any context of my film. Here is Autodesk Maya, a 3D animation program. See how I move these objects and arrange them according to the camera. Look what happens when I move my camera. Many of these objects are not finished, where they are placed in a way to hide their flaws. This doesn't mean that I'm lazy or unskilled. Many professional studios like Pixar or Sony animation use the same principles to cheat all the time. It's a method to be efficient with your time. The less time you spend on inconsequentials, the more time you can master what's important to your story. Creating assets with the camera mind is essential to being a good animation filmmaker. One of these principles that animators need to master is the idea of motion parallax. Motion parallax refers to the fact that objects moving at a constant speed across the frame will appear to move in a greater amount if they are closer to the observer, then they would if they were at a greater distance. If an object is close to the camera and it's moving the same exact speed than an object away from the camera, the object closest to the camera will move quickly across the frame, while the object further away from the camera will appear to move slower. Walt Disney recognized this effect and test his animation team to create the multiplane camera in the 1930s. It was first used in an experiment in the production of The Silly Symphonies Old Mill. Let's demonstrate why this matters. Let's say I'm given the background and the story calls for is zoom into the frame. Let's take this background and zoom in. That's great in literal, but it's flat and boring. But better ways to break up the background in layers. The camera can appear to be moving through the landscape. When I'm creating these assets, I'm making them larger than the frame size so they appear to have the same quality than if I kept them at the same frame size. Now look how the camera zoom is accomplished. The background is broken up into layers and moving in different rates to create the illusion of motion parallax. If you want to know more about the science of motion parallax or the history of the multiplane camera, I've included some website links to get you started. Using this technique will definitely improve the quality of your film. If you are considering this technique, it's important to make that decision when you are creating your assets so you know the quality and size of each asset. As you complete your assets, remember to consider the camera. They will need to be finished to move on to the next lesson. Thank you so much again for your time and attention.In our next lesson, we will be covering lighting. Thank you. Take care. 8. Lighting: Welcome back to introduction to animation film making. This is lesson number eight , lighting. We've covered the basics in clean up, asset creation and camera. It's time to move on to lighting. For today, I wanted to quickly address how light is an important part of animation film making. Light can serve many purposes in a film. It can identify the purpose of the scene. It can bring awareness to an object or character important to the story. It can reveal a vital clue to the narrative plot. It can reveal a character's identity, and it can help the audience move from one scene to the next. The whole world loves you. Mike. You'll never know what it's like to fail, because you were born a Sullivan. You can mess up over and over again, and the whole world loves you. Mike. You'll never know what it's like to fail, because you were born a Sullivan. Yeah. I'm a Sullivan. I'm a Sullivan who flunked every test. The one who got kicked out of the program, the one who was so afraid to let everyone down that I cheated and I lied. Eva. Artists have been using creative lighting for centuries. This painting Night Watch, by the Dutch painter Rembrandt, uses creative lighting as a way to reveal characters and the relationships in the composition. The central figure, the woman in the gold gown, is positioned in the back of the composition, away from the figures in the foreground. However, the lighting separates her figure from the surrounding characters. Next, a light that appears to be coming directly from the ceiling, revealing the two characters in front of the group. Another light from the right side, another from the floor. These lights help the audience move their focus around the painting. All of this is set dressing, to support the central relationship between the man on the right, and his gaze upon the woman in the background. In this picture of Yosemite park, photographer Ansel Adams, uses darkroom techniques to control the lighting around the entire composition, so the audience could take in the landscape, as a balanced magnificent hold. For our class, I wanted to quickly introduce the three-point lighting technique as a way to light any subject. Three-point lighting is the standard practice in any film production. A basic setup is to put two lights in front of a subject, at 45 degrees on the left and right. Then put the third light behind the subject, to get an even amount of lighting in the scene. The key light is our primary light source. It's usually the brightest light in the scene. The fill light has less intensity than the key light, its primary function is to illuminate the sections of the subject that were left dark, by the directional key light, without overpowering it. Then there's the back light or the hair light. When lightening human subject, the back light has been nicknamed the hair light, because it gives the hair a halo effect. The purpose of the hair light, is to separate the character from the background and reduce the amount of shadow from the key light. For stop-motion in 3D animation, lights are more like physical objects that can be moved in the scene. 2D animators need to lay out the source of the lighting and conceptualize how the lighting effects the color in the scene. In a professional studio, they have an entire department that only works on lighting assets. How you apply the lighting is dependent on the technique that you've chosen, for your animation. Stop-motion animators include the lighting during production. If they are shooting on top of a green screen, they mimic the lighting they plan to use for the background, so the compositing team can match the lighting between shots. In 2D and 3D animation, lighting happens in the post-production process, on a layer separate from the color. Allow me to demonstrate with these breakdowns. In the animated feature Klaus on Netflix, SPA animation studio, separates the color pass from the lighting pass. Bought a fragile merchandise, worst on record. Friends, bought a fragile merchandise, worst on record. In the the original Pixar Animation Studio's film, Toy Story, the color render is separate from the lighting render. But non of the shading, and here's the shading, but none of the lighting. Actually, you can see the textures, all the textures on woody. The difference is in the surface, some are cloth, some are plastic, all of that is done. But then the actual look, that mood and ambiance, pulling the characters from the background, giving everything its real shape, that's all done in lighting here, for the background and for the characters. Where is that bonding strip. And another thing, stop with this space man thing. Productions separate the lighting passes, so they have control over them in the post-production. If something needs to change in the lighting, the lighting layer can be changed in the composite, rather than rendering out the animation again. We'll be jumping ahead for a moment and demonstrate how lighting is created in production, and then adjusted in post-production. Here's a demonstration of how I will be manipulating the lighting in the composite. For my 2D layer, I've noticed that I have the colors blocked in, and I have some definition in her ears, eyes and nose area, but there's no real definition of lighting. I have identified the lighting when she's standing in front of the window, to becoming from the upper right-hand corner. I went into Photoshop and I created some shadows. I simply took the skin tone and the dress tone, and I brought it down a couple of percentage points in the brightness area. For the highlights, I've decided the color of the light will be yellow. I've identified a couple areas in her forehead, cheek bones, and in the shoulder area, areas that would be popping out in terms of 3D. Putting these layers on top of my figure, the shadow area looks pretty good, but my highlight area is just too bright, right now it looks like makeup that I've slapped on. I want to blend it a little bit more into the figure using a blending mode. In After Effects, blending modes are located in the layers area. Any compositing program that you use, will have a blending mode. The other most common compositing program, Nuke, does have a version of this when you merge your layers. Blending modes have several options, and all these blending modes are doing is simply figuring out how the images fit on top of one another. Instead of normal, that just simply places one image on top of another, you can choose to have the pixels blend in different ways. Since this is an highlight area, I want to go to lighting. Notice here that the saturation of the color has been taken out a little bit, and this blends a lot better into the figure. This has a little bit more definition and it fits a little bit more naturally into the figure. Here you can compare the final result. This is the pre-composite without highlights and shadows. Here's the pre-composite with highlights and shadows. It is a very subtle difference, but necessary as you continue with this process. To compare, here is the raw footage of my stop-motion hand. Now notice how saturated that red is, it almost feels like it's popping off the screen. I've used two different kinds of effects in order to manipulate the lighting. So you can see that one clearly. I've used hue and saturation. This effect just brings down the saturation, in order to match the other elements in the scene. This affect, exposure, this is helpful because it controls the brightness and darkness. The exposure effect works very similarly to a physical camera, since I'm using stop motion footage, this makes sense. To be inclusive, I wanted to include an example of 3D animation. Here I have a very generic walk cycle. This is half of a walk cycle across a photographed landscape. When I rendered this character out of the 3D animation program, Autodesk Maya, I included a beauty's pass. A beauty pass simply gives me the colors and the shape of my character. I also rendered out something called a normal's pass. A normal's pass gives me lighting information that it translates into color information. It gives me a red, green, and blue color, that corresponds with the X, Y, and Z space. This gives me control over the depth and how the compositing program translates that depth. With the lighting pass separate, I can control how light or dark my image is. That's it for lesson eight. Thank you so much for your time and attention. Next lesson, we'll be talking about some basic principles in your composite. 9. Compositing: Welcome back to Introduction to Animation Filmmaking. This is Lesson 9, compositing. In this lesson, we will define compositing and share a few tips to get the best out of your compositing. Compositing is the act of combining two images to make a single image. The basic composite in animation is character in front of background. The background will remain static while the character can move around within the location. The CFC animator time so that you don't have to redraw the background with every single frame. The process of compositing can be as simple or as complex as you like. Let's take a look. This here is our most basic composite. We have our character in the foreground and the background moving consistently with our character. What's nice about compositing is that I have free independent control over this character. At any point, if I wanted to, let's say, change the shot and make it a close-up, I could make my character much larger here, and we can see the character in for a close-up. Also, if I wanted to re-use this cycle and then make this character appear as if they are further away from the camera, I have the freedom to do that as well in the composite. For the class example, I have something far more complex. The reason I've built this complex is so that I have independent controls over all of the assets in the scene. I can reposition them, I can resize them, and I can also do some more animation within the composite. Now's a good time to bring up data files. What kind of files should you be using in your composite? When you're using any image manipulation, 2D or 3D software, you will have a variety of options for exploring your files. Most animators will export a movie file because you are creating motion media. The most common formats,.mpg,.mpg4, and.avi. These formats create an issue for compositing for two reasons. One is the compression. In order to play back a video file, the computer will abbreviate the image for smooth playback. Have you ever zoomed into a photo and it looks like this? That's compression. This is bad if you're resizing your asset, it will pixelate in the process. Two, Alpha channels, not all video formats preserve the Alpha channel. There was an option to preserve the Alpha channel on most software, but it is not always reliable because of the compression. The best and most reliable way to export your animated asset is to select an image sequence in a lossless format. Your lossless formats are TIFF, PNGs, and GIFs. In 3D animation, you can also use EXRs. JPG is a lossy format. That means when you resize your image, it may break apart due to compression. When you import your footage into the compositing program, there will be an option to read your file as an image sequence. Make sure your image sequence is properly labeled. If you mislead with your files, the compositing program will be unable to read them. I wanted to quickly visually demonstrate what I'm talking about when I talk about proper labeling. Here I have my 2D animation sequence. This is the original photograph sequence that I have. How I created my 2D animation is I hand-drew it on paper, and then I photographed it using Stop Motion software. The Stop Motion software automatically labels each frame numerically. Now, when it's labeled numerically, the compositing program can easily read the logic of the sequence. So 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. It can then import that file. With my first frame selected, I can't choose any frame within the sequence. I need to choose the first frame in the sequence. I then can come down here to my sequence options. The compositing program that I'm using After Effects automatically recognizes the file format in this sense, it's a TIFF, and it can import it as footage. The same logic goes for my 3D animation. For my 3D animation, I exported my animation sequence as an EXR, the same import principle applies. It numbers each frame 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. Then the compositing program automatically recognizes the EXR sequence as soon as I choose the first frame, and then it can import it right away. I wanted to clarify something that came up after I wrote the script for this episode. Someone had asked me about exporting from the composite, and I wanted to make it very clear that using a compositing program like After Effects, only gives you an option to export an uncompressed video file. Now, this is not less than an image sequence. In fact, a movie files are preferable for the editing phase of your project. Editing is essentially when you take several shots and you put them together. Compositing really should only happen for one shot at a time, so you should only have one composition for each shot. Now, there's some compositions you can reuse in your sequence and that's totally acceptable. However, for the purposes of this particular class, I just wanted to introduce the idea of compositing. Now, for editing purposes, Adobe After Effects only pumps out a video file so you can use that video file with several other video files in the edit. Now, to be clear, the uncompressed video file is enormous. It's going to take up a lot of hard drive space. It's important to make sure that you have enough space on your hard drive to accommodate the render. In compositing, you have more options to manipulate your footage, such as size, color, and timing. Begin building your composite by importing your assets and arranging them in your frame. Feel free to continue playing with the options that are available to you through the software. Experiment and explore. Hey everyone. I wanted to quickly talk to you about part of my creative process, especially when it comes to post-production. As you saw earlier in my sketchbook, I had created the idea of my 2D asset, this screaming woman and her looking out the window of a house at the hands popping out of the ground. That's what I initially planned for. Now, originally, I wanted her in a graveyard, but as I was creating graveyard assets, I realized that the frame look really cluttered and it was taking attention away from the hands. So I got rid of those and I just stuck with the tree. However, when I started creating these assets, if you saw her in earlier videos, my 2D asset was huge in the frame. Her head took up about a quarter of the size if you saw in earlier videos, and while I was in the process of compositing, I realized that her head was just far too large, so I decided to resize it and move it smaller in the frame. However, as I solved that problem, I created another problem in that I didn't really have a body for her. Instead of reanimating an entire body, looking as if it is walking into the frame. I just decided to hide the body a bit with some carefully placed foliage, I included the foliage in this other window, so there's consistency throughout the frame. It looks like she's somebody that keeps plants on the side of the house. I also wanted to preserve her colors. I didn't want to desaturate her, to make her look like she wasn't in nighttime setting. I added these lights in the composite in order to make sense of that coloring. Again, I continued to be creative and add to the scene in the composite. Now, this is something that happens pretty regularly in the studio as well in my own personal practice. The more I get my hands on it, the more ideas pop up. Don't be afraid to continue planning and adjusting and creating the further you get in the process. Just don't get carried away with it because you eventually want to finish your projects. In the next lesson, we will begin putting sound on our films. Thank you so much. I'll see you next time. 10. Sound: Welcome back to introduction to animation film making, this is Lesson 10, sound. You might be asking yourself, Eve, why are you whispering into a microphone, it's to bring your attention to the sound. You see, when sound is not working in animated film, you really notice it. Very well curated and mixed soundtrack can heighten your experience in watching a film. It's just as important to the success of your film as the images. This is where you remember back in lesson six, when we were assembling our assets, that I reminded you to create a folder for your recorded sounds. Now's the time to go back to that folder, start pulling out those sounds and really playing with them in the sound mix. We'll be using the editing software, Adobe Premiere, in order to do our sound mixing. A quick word about that, up until this point, we've been primarily using the compositing software, Adobe After Effects, for most of our technical demonstrations. While this software does have the ability to import and mix sounds, I highly recommend that you use Adobe Premiere to do your sound mixing, not Adobe After Effects. The whole purpose of importing sounds into a compositing program, is to time out your animation or to re-time some of your dialog or lip-sync. Or if you have a pre-recorded soundtrack, to just make sure that the beats in your composition, is matching that soundtrack. In Adobe Premiere, it's way more appropriate to edit sounds that you'll be putting into the visual, and also properly mixing the music and the dialogue together. There are better tools with that, and it's a lot easier to use. So let's take a look. We're currently in Adobe Premiere and I have exported my animation at half resolution. This will enable very easy playback as I'm scrubbing through and mixing my sounds. Listen to what I've done so far. I like where this is going so far, to let clue you in how I like to do sound mixing is, I like to work from the bottom up. When I'm editing dialogue and sound effects, those effects tend to have the most edits because I have to match the picture to what's happening in the soundtrack. I tend to keep those tracks closest to my image as possible, so that way, I can line up image and sound. For other sound effects like either music or ambiance, I tend to leave those towards the bottom because they run throughout the entirety of my piece and I usually don't edit those very much. There is a critical sound effect that's missing from this composition and that is the scream at the end. Let's start editing that scream in. Over here, I've created a bin for my sound effects to go into and I have a variety of effects that came from a royalty free CD, that I have from way back in the day. I also have a few sounds that I recorded on my phone. Sounds like the exterior noises and some of the ground moving. But now I want to pick a woman screaming. I'm going to go to my file that says woman screams, select that. I'm going to listen to a couple of sounds and see which ones I like. I really like that last one, I think that fits the character the best. I'm going to select that clip by putting in and out points on either side of it. I'm then going to go back down here to my sequence, I'm going to make sure that the proper track is selected. Adobe Premiere gives you the ability to select any audio or video track that you can import into. For me, I'll be importing into this top audio track here, and we want our audio to come in right about here. I'm going to hit overwrite, in order to put that directly into our track. Let's make sure it's lining out. I want that to happen a little bit later. Another nice thing about Premiere is that, I can see the WAV file, so I can observe where that audio starts. Right now I'm lining up the playhead to match when she begins to open her mouth, and that's when our screen will start. I'm going to slide this down and this straight line here tells me there's no sound here, so I can just make that clip a little bit shorter. Let's play that back and make sure it matches. We need to give her a little bit more time for that screen to show up, so let's move that down. That's working out a lot better. In order to do my mixing, I'm going to need access to more tools. Under my window I go to workspaces and choose Audio. What's nice about Premiere is that it has a variety of presets that makes this mixing process more efficient. Since I'm not a sound designer, these tools are very beneficial for my purposes. With this track selected, I'm going to tag it as a sound effect. I have a variety of presets to choose from. For this one, I want to make it a little bit more distant. Let's see how that. I like the reverb on it, but it's very quiet in the mix, so I want to fix that. I also while playing this through, I identified an issue. Now, a lot of animators tend to just trust their ears, if they're wearing headphones for sound mixing, that's not the best method, you should really be paying attention to the scopes that you have here. The same way that you would pay attention to any kind of scopes if you're doing advanced color correction. When you see these red lines here, that indicates that the sound effect is a bit over modulated and it will sound crackly when playing it on other devices. In order to fix that, I want to bring down. I'm going to take out the EQ, which boosts the sound track a little bit more. I'll see if that fixes the problem. No, its still being over modulated. It looks like I'm going to need to bring down the loudness. It's still loud, so now I'm going to adjust the volume. With my clip selected, I'm going to go up here and I'm going to bring down the volume. Now you can see I don't have any warnings that the sound is over modulated. For our other soundtrack, I'm going to bring that up a few decibels. That's a quick demonstration on how to begin the process of sound mixing. At this point, you can continue working on your image until it is ready to render out. So keep working on your compositing, your lighting, playing with your colors, and even your camera. Next lesson, we're going to get ready to render. Thank you so much for your time and attention. I look forward to seeing you next time. 11. Rendering & Sharing: Welcome back to Introduction to Animation Film making. This is Lesson 11, Rendering and Sharing. We did it. At this point. You should be finished, the production and post-production process. The compositing should be done, the sound mixing should be resolved. Now, let's get ready to hit render from that composite. Before we do that, let's make sure that we have the proper settings in order to explore our project. We're back here in Adobe After Effects, my composite is completely finished and now I'm ready for export. I'll go up to File, and under Export, I have a variety of different options that include sending it to Adobe Media Composer for compression, sending it directly to the render queue, which gives me an uncompressed file. We're sending it to the editing program, Adobe Premiere Pro. My method is to always send After Effects composites over to the render queue because I want an uncompressed version of my project. The reason I do this is so I don't have to keep opening up my project files every time I need a new version of this video file. Now I've brought my project into Adobe Premiere, I have the uncompressed version of my project, and I'm now sliding it in my timeline to accompany my soundtrack. I'm now ready for export. First, I want to double check my sequence settings to make sure they're all at their proper size. My frame size is 1920 by 1080, and I'm working at 30 frames a second. I also want to make sure that the sequence is at square pixels, any other preset will make the outcome oblong or distorted. I'm now going to export. When I export from Adobe Premiere the same way as from After Effects, I want to make sure that I'm exporting an uncompressed version, and you can see that in the summary of the export settings. For this particular version, I'm going to be using a QuickTime Codec with an apple progress 422 preset. That gives me an uncompressed version at 30 frames a second using 1920 by 1080. Make sure that your audio and video are selected, or else, one or the other may not come out. You also have the ability to scrub through your animation to make sure everything looks okay before you hit render. Now I'm in Adobe Media Encoder. I'm scrubbing through my short film. Now I would like to prepare it for a variety of distribution methods. The most common distribution method is using H.264 compression. In looking at the presets, another reason that I like using the Adobe suite as part of my demonstration is because there are different presets that are applicable to popular social media distributions such as Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube. I can choose any of these depending on how I will be exporting my film or how I want my audience to see my film. Once I have the proper one selected, I can hit my play button and I'm ready to export. With this uncompressed version, I can have a variety of different methods, such as YouTube, Vimeo, etc. I can set them all up and set them to render in succession. Before continuing, do your research. Where do you want this film to go? Which social media platforms would you like to share it on, or do you just want to upload it to a website? Every distribution outlet has criteria for the kinds of file formats they require in order to be put on their platform. Make sure you're exporting with the right file structure. You should always test each file before putting them up on your account. You're looking for any dropped frames or if the sound is not synced, or maybe there's just simply an error. Next and last lesson, we will discuss how to gain an audience for your short film. Thank you so much for your time and attention. I'll see you next time. 12. Distribution: Welcome to the last lesson in Animation Filmmaking, this is Lesson 12, distribution. Congratulations, you've made a short film. Now to ask the age-old question, if you've made a film and nobody has seen it, does it exist? For you, sure. Of course it exists. It demonstrates a chunk of time in your life that you put a lot of effort into, maybe this is just a grand creative exercise. However, I encourage you to find an audience with your work. It's always helpful to share something and get some meaningful feedback. Now I know this is the Internet and sometimes you get not really great comments, but you could get something really useful or inspiring. Don't be afraid, go out there, find your audience. The last step in this process is to identify that audience. Who wants to watch your work? First ask yourself in creating this project, what purpose does this project serve you? Is this practice? If it is shown it to people who will give you a useful critique. Are you looking for work? Make sure the skills you demonstrate in the short are applicable to the job description. This is a proof of concept. Make sure this summarizes the tone and character into a short clip. Share it with people who would be interested in learning more about your project. Whatever your reason, make sure you show it to the right people in order to give you helpful advice for your progression as an artist. This is where social media is really valuable. Every year I attend the Ottawa Animation Festival for professional references and networking. In 2018, I heard from animator Celia Bullwinkel about her self-produced short animated film: Sidewalks. Sidewalk is a visual metaphor about a woman who walks through life, confronting her changing body, and learns to love herself. That there's over three million views on Vimeo and won several awards and film festivals. During her talk, Celia outlined her strategy to find an online audience. Schedule, Celia picked a date to publish her film on her Vimeo account. Research, she found websites and social media groups that support women's issues. Contact, she sent the administrators of these online spaces a personalized message and asking if they would advertise the film to their viewers. Incentive, as an added bonus, anyone who agreed, got an early access link to share with their audience. To her delight, Celia got a universally positive response. Well, this is a pretty exceptional success story. I do believe that Celia's strategy for earning an audience is pretty universal and accessible. I hope you enjoyed this class and learned how to use your animation skills for much larger projects. I encourage you to continue practicing and sharing your work. Thank you again so much for your time and attention and I look forward to working with you for future classes. Thanks and take care.