Thursday, March 4, 2010

Animation Thumbs

When you begin to plan how you will approach animation in a shot you have been assigned, many animators will draw thumbnail sketches of acting ideas they have swimming around in their head. Or to work out complicated body mechanics that are happening. Sometimes it is just to clearly understand how your poses will look. It is a quick way to visualize critical elements in your shot.

I have seen other animators do thumbnail posts, and I love to look over their thought process. It is fascinating to see how they may have brainstormed, and gone forward with, or scrapped their thumbnailed ideas. My thumbnails are less than 'inspirational', but I decided to post them because I did them. Many animators won't even do them because after looking through books written by Disney animators, they think... in order to do thumbnails you should be able to draw masterpieces. I thought, maybe it will help to inspire others to do them, even if you totally suck at drawing... like me... as exampled below.

These were inspired by my lead (Jeff Schu's) original thumbnails.  I began sketching these to play with a few ideas I had around how the mother mole (the one who is under the father mole's arm) would react to the exterminators.  She is cradling a baby mole, and I was trying to decide which was more successful... the protective mother with the death stare (bottom right) or the scared mother (middle left).  My shot was cut from the film, although one very similar remained in the movie.  They went with the more scared mother.
This was a body mechanics issue I was dealing with.  The character was a robot toaster that was jumping off a counter top and running across the floor.  I was working on getting the motion for the jump, how he would look going through the air, and how he would land (mainly how heavy he would look as he settled his weight on the ground).  This shot was cut as well.
This was another body mechanics study.  I needed to figure out how this fat guinea pig was going to anticipate a big jump, then fail in getting through a vent during the jump, and ultimately get completely stuck.  Having to be pushed through (Winnie the Pooh style).  This shot did make it into the movie.

This is maybe one of the sets of thumbs that might be a bit easier to follow.  Here I am working out facial poses for a pretty dramatic moment.  This father figure character is blowing his top, and telling the hero that he is no longer a part of the team.  The father figure doesn't want to have to do this, but the hero character is just too wild, and has caused too many catastrophes.  This was a ton of fun to animate because there was a strong subtext in the actions happening on screen.  I have blacked out some of the throw away poses to help you follow the pose flow.

This is the scene immediately following the shot above.  Here the father figure says exactly what he wanted to in the previous shot.  Even though he struggles a bit, this is where he spells it out specifically.

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