Taught by a Feature Film Animator: The Basics | Omar El-Hindi | Skillshare

Taught by a Feature Film Animator: The Basics

Omar El-Hindi, Feature Film Animator

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9 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Getting Started

    • 3. Timing and Spacing

    • 4. Timing and Spacing Continued

    • 5. Timing and Spacing Continued

    • 6. The Timing Chart

    • 7. The Bouncing Ball

    • 8. Overlapping Action

    • 9. Inbetweening on 1's

11 students are watching this class

About This Class

In this class, I will be teaching you the basics of timing and spacing for animation. I'm going to be avoiding specific software tutorials, as this will be easy to find online in other places.

Instead I'm going to be focusing on the principles of animation themselves. I will be teaching you traditional animation (done digitally) in the way that the 2D animators of Disney would do on beloved films such as The Lion King, Snow White, and Bambi. But make no mistake, these principles can be applied to CG, 2D or even Stop Motion animation. 

We will be starting with a simple timing exercise, as well as a bouncing ball. 

As far as software, use whatever you feel comfortable with - this includes pencil and paper! But if you're looking for options, here are a few choices:

Krita: free
TV paint: expensive as hell
Clip Studio Paint: $12 a month, 6 month free trial
Rough Animator: $5

Good luck!



1. Introduction: Hi, My name is Omar al Hindi. I'm a feature film animator I have been animating for about 10 years and animating professionally for about five have experiences both CG Animator and two D animator. I've interned at Walt Disney Animation Studios and worked at Sony Pictures Imageworks, as well as several other studios. Some films that have worked on include the Captain Underpants movie Hotel Transylvania two , The Plane Mobile Movie as well as the Adams family movie. In this video, I'll be teaching you through two D animation, but anything that I have taught you, you'll be able to apply to any type of animation. Whether stop motion CG or two D and this video, Siri's specifically will be discussing timing and spacing, and how to apply it to a bouncing ball will also be going over timing charts and how to use them as well as overlapping action. I hope that you'll find the following videos informative, interesting and possibly entertaining, and that you will be able to take what you've learned onto your next projects. 2. Getting Started: all right, welcome to the basics of animation, where we will be trying to teach you the fundamentals of animation as applicable to someone who is looking to become a feature film animator or just, ah, high quality animator in general. In this video, we're going to be kind of setting up what you need to know for the following videos. I will be addressing you as though you have never animated before, and I think that's gonna be the quickest way to make sure that everyone's on the same playing field. So first off, what is animation? It sounds like an obvious question, but we need to make sure that we're all on the same page. Animation is just a series of images played very quickly to create the illusion of movement . It's the same thing with live action. It's no different once we know that, then the next question becomes frame rates. Some film is run a 24 frames. A second summit, 30 summat 60. The higher the frame rate, the smoother the video as it just means that their arm or images being shown per second, which creates the illusion of smoothness. If you have two frames a second. It will only be two images that show up per second of footage, which will come off very choppy. Ah, standard animation. Standard feature animation usually will run at 24 frames a second. A lot of TV footage will run a 30 frames a second. Some live action films now run at 60 frames a second, but we're going to largely be focusing on 24 frame per second character animation. Let's talk about the tools so you could do animation. Traditionally on pencil and paper, you can do it there. Stop motion where you take pictures of every frame. Or you can do it digitally with a C G puppet. Or it's called Tre digitally, where you're combining traditional and digital to digitally do your drawing. That is primarily where my lesson will be taking place. I'll be doing digital two D animation in order to do digital two D animation. We need software. I am using an iPad, and on the iPad, I'm using a program called Rough Animator. It's only about $5. I believe that's the program I'm using for these tutorials. For my own personal work, I tend to use a program called Clip studio paint, but that one is about $12 a month. I think if you're on Windows, their windows or Lennix or Mac, you can use a program called Critter, and there are a lot of video tutorials out there on how to use it. Crit is a free program if you're looking to spend a little more, there's a very high quality program called TV paint and several others that are just ah, quick Google away to see what program fits your needs. Now, depending on the software you choose, your interface will be a little different. But in the end, here are the things that you're going to be looking out for. One, you're going to need a timeline where you can place your frames. Two. You'll need to know how to adjust the duration of each of your frames. In this program, it's on the top left, where I can select how long a frame will be shown for third and fourth are a pencil and the ability to have an onion skin or a light box effect where you can see your previous and next drawings 3. Timing and Spacing: Okay, now that we have gotten all of the boring stuff out of the way, we can actually discuss animation. More specifically, we're gonna be discussing timing and spacing. So as you'll see, I am drawing a ball a circle, um, currently drawing one in the center. It's a slow process, even if it's a simple circle. But what I'll be doing is I'll be drawing three different circles, one as you can see right here, one above and one below. And what they'll be doing is they'll all be progressing from the left to the right from frame one, where you see on the bottom left to frame 33 where you see on the bottom, right? So to do this, as we've discussed earlier, I'm selecting my first frame, which you can see in the timeline, and I'm drawing the three circles. Then, to make the move, I'll select the frame or create a frame further into the timeline and draw more circles and then and so on and so on to create the illusion of movement. I'm going to be doing a little bit of lecturing as the video progresses, where I won't be talking about the specifics of what you're gonna be seeing on screen, but more so the general concepts. But until that point, at least know that the little ticks on the screen have relevance as they are to represent where the circle will be at specific points in time and otherwise, at least for this video. Siri's All I really be doing is redrawing the same circle and translating it on top of one of those little ticks. What we're gonna be discussing right now is the difference between timing and spacing, so timing is how long in action will take. So as I've said, animation typically runs a 24 frames a second. So every 24 frames 24 images run sequentially. You have one second of footage. Certain mediums run at 30 frames. Someone at 60 animation usually runs a 24 which means that if you were to animate two seconds of footage, that would mean you would have 48 images that you need to show on screen. There are many approaches, especially in two D animation that involves less drawings where you'll your footage will still run at 24 frames a second, but you'll show the same drawing twice in a row, which is called animating on twos. What I'm currently doing is animating on twos, which cuts the amount of drawings that you have to do. So in this case, as I've set up a 33 frame video, it won't actually be 33 frames. I believe it's going to be 17 or something like that. You can count the the balls if you like, But either way, what it does is it allows you to be a lot more economical, save time, and it still looks very good. Although animating 24 frames a second, animating on every single one of those frames, in my opinion looks better. It's smoother and and shows off the artistry a little bit more. There are, of course, exceptions. Regardless, that is what timing is. Timing is how long something takes, whether it's 10 seconds, whether it's 24 frames. The point is, timing is how long something takes 4. Timing and Spacing Continued: next is spacing. So while timing concerns itself with how long something takes, spacing is what happens in that time. In other words, where the drawings or where the object or the images are. So as you'll see on this image, there are several ticks all throughout what those represent Our my spacing. It's the placement of each of these circles. Now let's discuss which of these circles is doing what. So our top circle is paying very little attention to physics. Now I myself and not very competent math. But physics is something that every animator should at least be aware of. It's the the understanding that every object needs time to accelerate into decelerate, right. It's, ah, the laws of physics, right? It's an object needs time to accelerate in an object needs time to decelerate. An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays arrest. So it's why, when you're animating, you want to be aware of that. You want to understand that an object can't move from point A to point B in the blink of an eye, necessarily, unless you're doing it intentionally, which since this is a basic video, I would recommend that you avoid, as you should try and understand the fundamentals first. So our top circle, as you can see with sporadic line placement, which represents the the spacing of the circle. It isn't really adhering to the laws of physics. It's kind of just moving at any which rate, and the end result won't be horribly pleasing to the eye. Um, once again, there are exceptions. If this is the goal, if you want something shaky, then that would be fair. But if you're looking for something smooth, which as a beginner, I would recommend this isn't what you want. So next we will talk about the middle circle and the spacing there. So the middle circle, as you can tell the lines, are very, very even. So this is my even spacing circle. What this means is that every circle is set apart, an equal amount of distance, at least approximately so when played, it will move very smoothly, but un Interestingly, most organic things tend to not move this way. It's even an unexciting and unnatural machines, I suppose, would move, uh fairly evenly, although even them they would require some start up time and stop time, which is called an easing, or unease Out where you're spacing will cluster, and that's what we're discussing on the bottom circle. So the bottom circle, as you can see what the notches once again indicating where the circle will be. The bottom circle has the smallest amount of of spacing in the center of the path. What this means is that the ball is spending the least amount of time in the center. So what we're doing is we're clustering the ball towards the left and towards the right, and what this will achieve is, in effect, that it is very slowly moving at first, speeding up and then slowing back down. You could talkto different animator, and everyone will refer to it differently, whether it's unease in or unease out as an easing into emotion or easing into a stop or easing out of emotion or, uh, or out to a stop. The point is that you are clustering your spacing to represent an object taking time to either accelerate or to decelerate 5. Timing and Spacing Continued: animators from often when looking at their work or someone else's work point out hitches in in motion. And what that means is that an object isn't following proper spacing. Um, when you look a these circles, it's it's easier to accept whatever is put in front of you because they're just circles. But when you take this and you apply it to more complex movements, like like a hand or an arm or a full body when you have a hand that is wiping across screen and isn't following the proper spacing what'll happen is it will move one inch forward, two inches forward, three inches forward, two inches backwards, four inches forward, one inch backward. And what will happen is it'll strobe on screen. It'll bounce around. It won't feel smooth. It's very important that when you're animating that you're paying attention to a natural progression of spacing. If you want something to accelerate, then you need to do just that. It needs to accelerate and you start slowly and ramp up to its full speed, and then as it comes to a stop, it takes time to come to a stop. You can choose how you want to handle this, whether you want to have a sharp stop or or a sharp ramp up or a slow ramp up for a slow stop. But in the end, you need your spacing to work for you, and you can't have little hitch is in motion, taking away from what's happening. And that's what I'm doing right now on the top circle. I'm moving it backwards because I'm showing that a backwards motion in a previously set up movement won't look good. It won't feel right, while the middle circle is simply moving at a steady rate and the bottom one is nicely and efficiently coming to a stop. So that's pretty much it. That's the basics of timing and spacing. Sped up the last part of this video Teoh to save you from the pain of watching me do my final drawings of these three circles moving as they move. I hope that you found this helpful in some capacity, and I hope that you've left this video with a slightly more thorough understanding of what timing and spacing is and what it means to animation as a whole. Um, as you'll see, I am wrapping up my circle animation, which I'll show you. Now, Um, here it is not super fancy, but that's the idea. So you can see the top circle moving a little sporadically. Not really smooth. Not really. Uh, not really fun for the I, you know, And then here, without the background, you can see it a little more clearly. You can see now the middle circle moving at an even rate the whole time in the bottom circle, very slowly ramping out of ah, out of a stop position and then easing into its final resting spot. Um, yeah, that's pretty much it. Ah, leave you with, uh, a video of my finished product and take a look at it. Ah, and try it yourself. Until then, I will see you in my next video, which is about the bouncing ball. Where will apply what we've talked about here onto a object that is not just moving horizontally that is moving in actual space. So I will see you then. 6. The Timing Chart: All right. So now that we understand the basics of timing and spacing, we will be applying it to a bouncing ball, as you can see in front of you. So not only is it a bouncing ball, it is a bouncing ball with a very, very simple tale. Uh, yes. Without further ado, let's get started. So once again, I am using Rough animator a Zinkhan. See him just creating a scene. At the moment, I'm naming my layers. Nothing too complicated. Uh, what I'm doing now is is creating my background layer, so it's gonna be very simple. Just a line on the ground. I'm just manipulating it now to make sure that it's flat. But it will serve as my very simple background. Just a line on the ground that the ball which I'm drawing now will bounce on. I'm just gonna quickly extend the duration of my scene on the background layer. As you can see on the the top left, you can simply add a duration for drawing. So my background layer now is gonna last. I believe it's 33 frames on. Now I'm back onto my intimation layer. So my first drawing was a circle suspended in the air and my second drawing, which, as you can see what the number 13 on it, I've decided will be 13 frames away. Next, I will be redrawing my first frame so that where the animation can act as a cycle, the only way for a cycle to work properly is if your first and last frames are the same. So I need that drawing as, ah as a working endpoint, ASM animating. So now that you have created your starting point and endpoint of your animation, you can flip between them on the left there. Um, but we're gonna now need to make a timing chart, someone to explain what that is. So a timing chart is essentially the illustration of your spacing over time. So if you look at this image right now, you will see the numbers 3579 and 11 and that I have drawn that they total to five numbers . What this means is that between drawings one and drawing 13 there's going to be five other drawings because we're animating on twos. So as opposed to doing drawings. 123456789 10 11 12 We're just gonna be doing 13579 11 and 13. So we're showing the same drawing twice per 24 frames. This way we can animate on twos and it's faster, more economical and still look good. Next, we're gonna need to determine where those drawings are going to go. So drawings 3579 and 11 need to be placed. We already have drawing one, and we have drawing 13 soas faras placing 3579 and 11. I'm going to place them in a way that makes sense. Physically, the ball is going to take time to slow out of its top position, and then it's gonna hit the ground on drawing 13 so you'll see the fractions that have drawn on what those represent are the spacing of the drawings relative to each other. This means that this drawing will be 1/3 of the distance to drawing 13 while this drawing will be approximately halfway between the previous drawing and drawing 13. So it's going to be very helpful if you try and organize your drawings in a way where you can look to previous drawings as benchmarks to do either a halfway drawing or a 1/3 drawing . Mind you, it's a lot easier if you set yourself up in a way where you can just do 1/2 drawings, which is an example. Here. My current timing chart is set up in a way where there's thirds involved, while this new revised timing chart involves Onley halfway positions, So basically, the timing chart is your blueprint. It's what you do to set up the physics of the movements that will be involved with your scene. 7. The Bouncing Ball: all right, Now it's time to actually animate. So we're gonna go to drawing 11. We're gonna create the drawing, and we're gonna start. Ah, I wanna start animating. So right now, I wouldn't normally do this, but I'm illustrating basically my timing chart on top of my scene, so I'll be placing my drawing 11 essentially where it was in the timing chart. Now I'm just gonna erase the lines. But you can see now how applicable the timing charges to the actual motion that year that you're animating. Next. I'll be starting drawing nine as its next simplest drawing because it's a halfway point between drawing one and drawing 11. So simply enough we create our next drawing, which is once again just a simple circle. Place it halfway. So, so far, really easy. We've done all of our work within the timing chart where we figured out where every drawing is going to be placed, and now it's just a matter of actually executing it. So I'm scrubbing along Ah, making sure to see how my animation looks and feels all the while filling in the blanks that I've set up with my timing chart. So this is why, Ah, I feel like the timing chart is a very, very important tool for animation. It gets more complicated as you go along, but either way it's still the blueprint for all of your shots. More complicated work will have multiple timing charts. If you have a full body, for example, you might have a single timing chart for the torso as well as a secondary timing chart for the arm, because once again everything is happening over the same amount of time. It's just where the drawing is located, but with a bouncing ball, it's obviously a lot easier. So just like that, we've already filled out our drawings 13579 and 11 as well as 13. So we have the first half of the animation mapped out. So as I've preached before, we're gonna go back to the timing chart. And it's important to keep in mind that when you're animating something, especially something that's moving in the same direction it has already traveled, you have to make sure that you offset the the spot that you place your drawing. Um, as drawings were placed on screen because they're just flashes of an image. You want to make sure that you don't put the same image on screen twice, if that makes sense, So I'm gonna illustrated here. But basically, if drawing number 11 is this ob long circle drawing number 13 is the flat one. And then drawing number 15 once again is that in that same spot that drawing number 11 was ? What's gonna happen is you're getting four total frames of the same image, and then two frames of this flattened one. So your eyes mostly going to register that long one, and so it's gonna look very strange. So I'm consciously making sure that that drawing isn't the same. And this goes for most things in your timing chart. You want to make sure that your animation as a whole has varied timing. Timing is, it's the music of animation. As potential says that sounds, it's making sure that you don't just have the same one note throughout the entire time. You can have fun, timing and animation where you really play with with the physicality of things while still keeping it believable. Just as an example right here. This this animation it's not in any way, um, physically accurate, you know. But it's believable with that, and that's the important thing. As a quick example of that squash and stretch, as the ball is moving its stretching as it impacts the ground, it squashes to be clear. Squash and stretch is a real thing. It's just not visible normally. But squashing stretches something that you will see in all animation, whether it's a face as it compresses before shouting or someone running, you know they're up positions as their legs were spread is essentially a stretch, and their impact position is essentially a squash. And just like that, we have filled in all of our in between. So delete your last drawing, the one that was a duplicate of drawing one because you don't want it toe the whole you'll have a spacing hitch. But here you go. Here's an example of it. So this is a bouncing ball on twos, so make sure that you try and recreate this yourself to get a better understanding of it. 8. Overlapping Action: next up. Now that we have our bouncing ball, we're going to talk about overlapping action. So I've drawn a very rudimentary tail on my bouncing ball, as well as a more complex one to the left. If you'd like toe, try that where you have to maintain the volume of it, but we're gonna keep it simple. Just a line so simple enough overlapping action is something that tends to be completed after you've already finished your primary animation, because it's action that follows your primary action, which is why it's it's overlapping it. It overlaps the main action. So in this case, a tale is what I've chosen to toe animate. But this could apply to clothing or to hair or anything. So I've picked an arbitrary frame where I already know where the tail will be. Because as the ball is falling down, the tail will be dragging behind it. So I've used that one as my starting point. From there I am animating straight ahead, which means no planning, no timing charts, nothing like that. I'm animating straight ahead, where every single frame I use my own intuition and I place the tail. This is challenging and it'll take you a little bit of time to get used, Teoh. But the idea is that you flip through your drawings and you feel out where that tail will be in any given time. So, as you can see, I'm erasing and tweaking because you're you're constantly trying to find where the tail will be, if that makes sense. I've even turned off my onion skinning where I can see the previous and on next frame because I want this to be kind of visceral, where every time I flip, I'm envisioning where that tail will be. Helpful Tip is that the root of whatever you're overlapping action is whether a ponytail, a tale or clothing the root of that will follow the object far more closely than the end of it is the end of it is far less attached to the root object. So what'll happen is the base of whatever you're overlapping. Action is will follow pretty closely to the primary action, but the end of it will do its own thing while following the primary action. But just several seconds later, or several frames later. So here you go, here is my bouncing ball on twos with overlapping action, and this could be taken in so many ways. You can add, Ah, bow tie. You can add, uh, ponytail. You cannot clothing whatever you want. In theory, straight ahead. Overlapping action allows you to do whatever you want with your animation because it comes after the fact you already have the root of your animation done. 9. Inbetweening on 1's: So now that we've done the bulk of the work, we're gonna talk about single in between ing or putting your animation on ones. So as we know, I animated this bouncing ball and tail on twos, which, as a refresher, means that each drawing is held for two total frames and your animation will be running 24 frames a second. Putting your animation on one's after the fact, while still appealing at times, is never as ideal as planning for having an animation on ones in the first place. Um, spacing is a very finicky thing that you want to get as perfect as possible. The more perfect your spacing is and the less little hiccups like, for example, this tale right now that I'm trying to tweak and improve on the less of those issues you have, the more clean your animation will feel and the more believable it will feel while animating your animation completely on Tuesday in the first place and then in between, ng afterwards will often give you tiny issues that you didn't foresee in advance. Here is the timing chart I used to draw frames one through 13 in black, then I have drawn on top of it and read to illustrate where the single in betweens will be . So it's pretty simple. Um, we've already seen this timing chart earlier, but now, halfway between every single drawing, there's another drawing, and these drawings will be on ones. It's ah, it's a very old school Disney method where all of your animation that's on twos tend to be on odd numbers, and all of your animation on ones will be uneven numbers. So I followed that. But as you'll see on the right, the spacing is still pretty good. But it could be a lot better if we look it frames one through nine on the right. All of that spacing all the way from one to frame nine is relatively even. It doesn't progress that much. And then between 9 to 13 it's also relatively even. I'd say each drawing is about halfway to the next one. I then changed that, and on the left inside, I've created a timing chart that was specifically built for ones. So in this instance, you can see that the timing is the spacing story is worked out in advance is a little more complicated But there's a lot more variety within the spacing and a lot more subtle movement. Stuff like that you won't get if you single in between after the fact. Ah, lot of the times it will still look very good. But it could be much better if you plan for it. And, uh, we're pretty much done where we're just going through the motions now. Um, like I said, there's not a whole lot of thought that goes into this section were mostly just putting a halfway drawing in each situation. The most thought that's really going into this right now is on the tail, where I'm trying to keep the spacing on that nice and smooth without any hiccups, where the tail will remain in the same spot for too long and not follow proper physics. But otherwise we're largely just in between ing it halfway. The thing with animation is, is this stage and even even on twos. When we were filling in what we had already established for their timing chart, a lot of that is is work that you can do kind of mindlessly to an extent. You obviously need to be paying attention. But the real work and thought is essentially at the timing chart stage where you plan your animation. In the old days, animators would create their poses like we did, where we did our first pot's of the ball in the air and then the ball squashed on the ground and then create the timing chart. And then they would send it off to an assistant because once they had the timing chart and their main poses, they essentially had already completed all of the important work. In our case, though, we do our own in betweens, which is fun. Some people say, Um, it's tedious, but the end result is almost always worth it. It's It's very satisfying and appealing toe watch. For me personally, it's still incredibly rewarding to see my animation move, and here it is moving. Hopefully, this was helpful for you, and you'll be able to create something similar. Good luck on your possibly very first animation, Uh, or hopefully very first, well thought out animation with proper tutelage. Um, at least I hope that's the case. Anyway, thank you for watching and good luck