Animation takes control

Well I’ll be the first to admit that over the past two weeks my blogging effort has been sub-par.  Over the past month, I and eight other brave souls have been undertaking a project for Hope Tucker’s animation class which is possibly the most tedious and time-consuming work I’ve ever had to do.  Now I’m not naive enough to say that I didn’t know that animation required constructing every single still frame in order to achieve the effect of motion, but it’s a whole different thing having to do it…alone.   In the past two weeks I’ve drawn roughly 1200 individual frames in Photoshop®.  Although my photoshop savvy has increased exponentially and my workflow has increased as well, I still sit down and create 20-40 frames per hour of work.  I’ve benefitted greatly from using a Wacom pad, which allows me draw on a separate tablet which mirrors the computer’s display.  By using a digital pen and not a mouse I’ve sped up my production a lot, but it’s still not fast.  

Since my project is based on telling an extremely condensed history of the world, I also have a voice-over narration which accompanies the animated visuals.  As I began assembling this voice over today I had to start thinking of how narration for an animated short is the same or different as if it were live footage.  My piece is a comedy which plays with a juxtaposition between narrator and image.  The narrator, for the most part, stays serious and fairly true to a neutral historian.  The images however, are very simple but are over the top as far as exaggerating events, stereotypes, catastrophes and accomplishments.  While assembling this, I was surprised to discover that the power of the comedy lay much more in the narration than in the image.  The sound and tone of the narrators voice made all the difference (which unfortunately means I have to re-record it tomorrow for more effect).  I also am dealing with the timing of the whole thing.  Since the voice over was recorded before all of the frames had been drawn and assembled, I’m having to alter the frame rate at which it plays at times in order to assure the audio and video are synced.  I may have to resort to recording the voice over again while watching the video to get it to play how I need it to.  Sound is a whole separate issue.  Since there’s obviously no live sound recorded, foley sound recording is a must…and a challenge.  Finding objects or devices to create the necessary sounds to match is something which may be easily done with a database of effects, but is not easy in a booth with a mic.

Although I’m glad this class was created and offered this semester, I think all of will be ready to be done with this project.  My skills with photoshop, my patience, and my like for animation have all been severely tested in the past couple of weeks but they’ve all grown and improved.  I’ve come to like graphic design more than I had thought and would be willing to explore that more.   

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