Animator

Last updated
Animator
Norman McLaren drawing on film - 1944.jpg
Scottish Canadian animator Norman McLaren drawing on film, 1944
Occupation
Occupation type
Art
Activity sectors
Film, television, internet, mass media, video games
Description
CompetenciesDrawing, fine arts, acting, computer software
Fields of
employment
Animation

An animator is an artist who creates multiple images, known as frames, which give an illusion of movement called animation when displayed in rapid sequence. Animators can work in a variety of fields including film, television, and video games. Animation is closely related to filmmaking and like filmmaking is extremely labor-intensive, which means that most significant works require the collaboration of several animators. The methods of creating the images or frames for an animation piece depend on the animators' artistic styles and their field.

Contents

Other artists who contribute to animated cartoons, but who are not animators, include layout artists (who design the backgrounds, lighting, and camera angles), storyboard artists (who draw panels of the action from the script), and background artists (who paint the "scenery"). Animated films share some film crew positions with regular live action films, such as director, producer, sound engineer, and editor, but differ radically in that for most of the history of animation, they did not need most of the crew positions seen on a physical set.

In hand-drawn Japanese animation productions, such as in Hayao Miyazaki's films, the key animator handles both layout and key animation. Some animators in Japan such as Mitsuo Iso take full responsibility for their scenes, making them become more than just the key animator.

Specialized fields

Animators often specialize. One important distinction is between character animators (artists who specialize in character movement, dialogue, acting, etc.) and special effects animators (who animate anything that is not a character; most commonly vehicles, machinery, and natural phenomena such as rain, snow, and water).

Stop-motion animators don't draw their images, instead they move models or cut-outs frame-by-frame, famous animators of this genre being Ray Harryhausen and Nick Park.

Stop-motion animated character from 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957). 20 million miles to earth (1957) Ymir.png
Stop-motion animated character from 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957).

Inbetweeners and cleanup artists

In large-scale productions by major studios, each animator usually has one or more assistants, "inbetweeners" and "clean-up artists", who make drawings between the "key poses" drawn by the animator, and also re-draw any sketches that are too roughly made to be used as such. Usually, a young artist seeking to break into animation is hired for the first time in one of these categories, and can later advance to the rank of full animator (usually after working on several productions).

Methods

Historically, the creation of animation was a long and arduous process. Each frame of a given scene was hand-drawn, then transposed onto celluloid, where it would be traced and painted. These finished "cels" were then placed together in sequence over painted backgrounds and filmed, one frame at a time. [1]

Animation methods have become far more varied in recent years. Today's cartoons could be created using any number of methods, mostly using computers to make the animation process cheaper and faster. These more efficient animation procedures have made the animator's job less tedious and more creative.

Audiences generally find animation to be much more interesting with sound. Voice actors and musicians, among other talent, may contribute vocal or music tracks. Some early animated films asked the vocal and music talent to synchronize their recordings to already-extant animation (and this is still the case when films are dubbed for international audiences). For the majority of animated films today, the soundtrack is recorded first in the language of the film's primary target market and the animators are required to synchronize their work to the soundtrack.

Evolution of animator's roles

As a result of the ongoing transition from traditional 2D to 3D computer animation, the animator's traditional task of redrawing and repainting the same character 24 times a second (for each second of finished animation) has now been superseded by the modern task of developing dozens (or hundreds) of movements of different parts of a character in a virtual scene.

Because of the transition to computer animation, many additional support positions have become essential, with the result that the animator has become but one component of a very long and highly specialized production pipeline. Nowadays, visual development artists will design a character as a 2D drawing or painting, then hand it off to modelers who build the character as a collection of digital polygons. Texture artists "paint" the character with colorful or complex textures, and technical directors set up rigging so that the character can be easily moved and posed. For each scene, layout artists set up virtual cameras and rough blocking. Finally, when a character's bugs have been worked out and its scenes have been blocked, it is handed off to an animator (that is, a person with that actual job title) who can start developing the exact movements of the character's virtual limbs, muscles, and facial expressions in each specific scene.

At that point, the role of the modern computer animator overlaps in some respects with that of his or her predecessors in traditional animation: namely, trying to create scenes already storyboarded in rough form by a team of story artists, and synchronizing lip or mouth movements to dialogue already prepared by a screenwriter and recorded by vocal talent. Despite those constraints, the animator is still capable of exercising significant artistic skill and discretion in developing the character's movements to accomplish the objective of each scene. There is an obvious analogy here between the art of animation and the art of acting, in that actors also must do the best they can with the lines they are given; it is often encapsulated by the common industry saying that animators are "actors with pencils". [2] More recently, Chris Buck has remarked that animators have become "actors with mice." [3] Some studios bring in acting coaches on feature films to help animators work through such issues. Once each scene is complete and has been perfected through the "sweat box" feedback process, the resulting data can be dispatched to a render farm, where computers handle the tedious task of actually rendering all the frames. Each finished film clip is then checked for quality and rushed to a film editor, who assembles the clips together to create the film.

While early computer animation was heavily criticized for rendering human characters that looked plastic or even worse, eerie (see uncanny valley), contemporary software can now render strikingly realistic clothing, hair, and skin. The solid shading of traditional animation has been replaced by very sophisticated virtual lighting in computer animation, and computer animation can take advantage of many camera techniques used in live-action filmmaking (i.e., simulating real-world "camera shake" through motion capture of a cameraman's movements). As a result, some studios now hire nearly as many lighting artists as animators for animated films, while costume designers, hairstylists, and cinematographers have occasionally been called upon to consult on newer projects.

See also

Related Research Articles

Animation Method of creating moving pictures

Animation is a method in which figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent celluloid sheets to be photographed and exhibited on film. Today, most animations are made with computer-generated imagery (CGI). Computer animation can be very detailed 3D animation, while 2D computer animation can be used for stylistic reasons, low bandwidth, or faster real-time renderings. Other common animation methods apply a stop motion technique to two and three-dimensional objects like paper cutouts, puppets, or clay figures.

Computer animation Art of creating moving images using computers

Computer animation is the process used for digitally generating animated images. The more general term computer-generated imagery (CGI) encompasses both static scenes and dynamic images, while computer animation only refers to moving images. Modern computer animation usually uses 3D computer graphics to generate a two-dimensional picture, although 2D computer graphics are still used for stylistic, low bandwidth, and faster real-time renderings. Sometimes, the target of the animation is the computer itself, but sometimes film as well.

Film crew

A film crew is a group of people, hired by a production company, for the purpose of producing a film or motion picture. The crew is distinguished from the cast as the cast are understood to be the actors who appear in front of the camera or provide voices for characters in the film. The crew is also separate from the producers as the producers are the ones who own a portion of either the film studio or the film's intellectual property rights. A film crew is divided into different departments, each of which specializes in a specific aspect of the production. Film crew positions have evolved over the years, spurred by technological change, but many traditional jobs date from the early 20th century and are common across jurisdictions and filmmaking cultures.

Special effect Illusions or tricks to change appearance

Special effects are illusions or visual tricks used in the theatre, film, television, video game, and simulator industries to simulate the imagined events in a story or virtual world.

Storyboard

A storyboard is a graphic organizer that consists of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualising a motion picture, animation, motion graphic or interactive media sequence. The storyboarding process, in the form it is known today, was developed at Walt Disney Productions during the early 1930s, after several years of similar processes being in use at Walt Disney and other animation studios.

Inbetweening, also commonly known as tweening, is a process in animation that involves generating intermediate frames, called inbetweens, between two keyframes. The intended result is to create the illusion of movement by smoothly transitioning one image into another.

Motion blur

Motion blur is the apparent streaking of moving objects in a photograph or a sequence of frames, such as a film or animation. It results when the image being recorded changes during the recording of a single exposure, due to rapid movement or long exposure.

Visual effects is the process by which imagery is created or manipulated outside the context of a live action shot in filmmaking and video production. The integration of live action footage and other live action footage or CG elements to create realistic imagery is called VFX.

Motion capture Process of recording the movement of objects or people

Motion capture is the process of recording the movement of objects or people. It is used in military, entertainment, sports, medical applications, and for validation of computer vision and robotics. In filmmaking and video game development, it refers to recording actions of human actors, and using that information to animate digital character models in 2D or 3D computer animation. When it includes face and fingers or captures subtle expressions, it is often referred to as performance capture. In many fields, motion capture is sometimes called motion tracking, but in filmmaking and games, motion tracking usually refers more to match moving.

Clay animation

Clay animation or claymation, sometimes plasticine animation, is one of many forms of stop-motion animation. Each animated piece, either character or background, is "deformable"—made of a malleable substance, usually plasticine clay.

Traditional animation

Traditional animation is an animation technique in which each frame is drawn by hand. The technique was the dominant form of animation in cinema until the advent of computer animation.

3D Movie Maker

3D Movie Maker is a children's computer program developed by Microsoft Home's Microsoft Kids subsidiary in 1995. Using the program, users can make films by placing 3D characters and props into pre-rendered environments, as well as adding actions, sound effects, music, text, speech and special effects. Movies are then saved in the .3mm file format.

The Computer Animation Production System (CAPS) was a digital ink and paint system used in animated feature films, the first at a major studio, designed to replace the expensive process of transferring animated drawings to cels using India ink or xerographic technology, and painting the reverse sides of the cels with gouache paint. Using CAPS, enclosed areas and lines could be easily colored in the digital computer environment using an unlimited palette. Transparent shading, blended colors, and other sophisticated techniques could be extensively used that were not previously available.

In filmmaking, video production, animation, and related fields, a frame is one of the many still images which compose the complete moving picture. The term is derived from the fact that, from the beginning of modern filmmaking toward the end of the 20th century, and in many places still up to the present, the single images have been recorded on a strip of photographic film that quickly increased in length, historically; each image on such a strip looks rather like a framed picture when examined individually.

Mattes are used in photography and special effects filmmaking to combine two or more image elements into a single, final image. Usually, mattes are used to combine a foreground image with a background image. In this case, the matte is the background painting. In film and stage, mattes can be physically huge sections of painted canvas, portraying large scenic expanses of landscapes.

A background artist or sometimes called a background stylist or background painter is one who is involved in the process of animation who establishes the color, style, and mood of a scene drawn by an animation layout artist. The methods used can either be through traditional painting or by digital media such as Adobe Photoshop. Traditional methods involved painting entire production scenes for a television program or film. Current methods may involve painting primarily background keys or the establishing shot while production background artists paint the corresponding background paintings.

Twelve basic principles of animation

Disney's twelve basic principles of animation were introduced by the Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their 1981 book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. The principles are based on the work of Disney animators from the 1930s onwards, in their quest to produce more realistic animations. The main purpose of these principles was to produce an illusion that cartoon characters adhered to the basic laws of physics, but they also dealt with more abstract issues, such as emotional timing and character appeal.

The history of computer animation began as early as the 1940s and 1950s, when people began to experiment with computer graphics - most notably by John Whitney. It was only by the early 1960s when digital computers had become widely established, that new avenues for innovative computer graphics blossomed. Initially, uses were mainly for scientific, engineering and other research purposes, but artistic experimentation began to make its appearance by the mid-1960s- most notably by Dr Thomas Calvert. By the mid-1970s, many such efforts were beginning to enter into public media. Much computer graphics at this time involved 2-dimensional imagery, though increasingly as computer power improved, efforts to achieve 3-dimensional realism became the emphasis. By the late 1980s, photo-realistic 3D was beginning to appear in film movies, and by mid-1990s had developed to the point where 3D animation could be used for entire feature film production.

A live-action animated film is a film that combines live action filmmaking with animation. Films that are both live-action and computer-animated tend to have fictional characters or figures represented and characterized by cast members through motion capture and then animated and modeled by animators, while films that are live action and traditionally animated use hand-drawn, computer-generated imagery (CGI) or stop motion animation.

Sharon Calahan American cinematographer

Sharon Calahan is an American cinematographer who was director of photography on the Pixar films A Bug's Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), and Finding Nemo (2003), and was lighting director for Ratatouille (2007), Cars 2 (2011), and The Good Dinosaur (2015). She took part in the early rise of computer animated feature filmmaking and the acceptance of that medium as cinematography. Calahan is the first member of the American Society of Cinematographers who was invited to join on the basis of a career entirely in animated film. She was nominated, with Bill Reeves, Eben Ostby, and Rick Sayre, for a 2000 BAFTA Award for Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects for A Bug's Life.

References

  1. "How A Cartoon is Made" "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2007-01-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. Gaut, Berys (2010). A Philosophy of Cinematic Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 138–139. ISBN   9780521822442.
  3. Virtue, Robert (29 April 2015). "Acclaimed Disney director shares his creative vision for Newcastle". 1233 ABC Newcastle. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2 May 2015.