Monday, March 17, 2008
"Blue" Pencil Test
I think that this phase of the project was the most demanding, exhaustive and hard, but also it was the one that I've learned the most from. From the use of the peg bar and punched paper, to taking decisions about if I should or shouldn't buy an animation disk; from learning to use the left hand to check and control the time and motion, to maintaining the proportions and look of the character.
Well, I think this post is gonna be a long one :)
I read in "The Animation Book" by Kit Laybourne the importance of having a production book or log, so that you can keep track of your advances, your doubts, and even catalyse your anger, discouragements, etc. I think it was some of the best advice this book offered, at least to me. So I started mine for this project. And this part of the process was the time I wrote the most. I think I'm gonna post later some of those notes, but right now I wanna point out that writing my goals in the book was really important. Sometimes I felt lost and when I read again the notes about my objectives with my project, it set me back on track.
One of the first notes (actually, the first one) was about the importance of being familiar with the characters, the movements, and so on. When I did the pencil tests of the 1st and 2nd scenes, I thought it was a waste of time, but at this point I realized how useful it was. I have to confess that I'm still not satisfied with the female cat. I can tell now that I never drew her enough before the final animation, so some parts, mostly the face, are kinda strange to me.
At this part of the project, I've suffered many depressions.
In order to meet the deadline, I made a formula to see how many frames I should draw per hour, and how many hours per day should I work. I even made a schedule detailing task to be completed daily or weekly. In the middle of it, I was delayed. That was stressful, but I tried to continue to make it happen.
There were days when I couldn't draw more than 5 or 6 frames cause they were really complex for me, and I felt like I had many empty spots in my animation knowledge and skills. But I tried hard and harder to get through, and I've learned one of my greatest lessons: the best way to learn how to do animation is by MAKING it. It sounds pretty simple, but it's not. I've read a lot, I've seen many cartoons, even frame by frame, I've read many blogs, etc. But it's only when you face yourself with the paper, with the problems, and when you feel that you have no idea how to do something that you start to learn for real. When you do your own project you face problems that no book or film has encountered, so you have to figure it out.
This can be really stressful. I read one of my notes that says : "I can't animate, I'm not good for this". It was a hard day and I almost gave up, I lost the will to keep working, and I wondered if it was a good idea to leave my job to do this, and that I would never be able to make a good animation. Boy, this stuff is really demanding and can mess with your head, hehe.
When I realized that I couldn't finish it for my birthday (13th October, just in case any of you wanna send me gifts hehe), I promised myself that at least I would finish the pencil animation by then.
The prior week was really hard, and my hand was so sore that at night it was numb and sometimes cold. I was kinda afraid, but I didn't pay much attention and I kept working. On my b-day I had like 50 or 80 frames to draw. I started to draw at 6 am (or I went to bed at 4 am, I really can't remember). In the morning, my girlfriend came to my place and ask me what I wanted to do. I answered "I have to finish this, this is my own gift". And I started to draw again. But then I realized that there was no use spending my own day doing this when instead I could go out knowing that I really was good at this, and that my goal was in some way accomplished. So I celebrated.