Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Developing your Eye

In Animation, one of the best tools you can have is an eye for what looks right or wrong. Some people can really see the elements that are or are not in a shot. Like any good art form, it takes years to develop an understanding of things. In animation we are usually looking out for good poses and design. There are so many different aspects of animation we need to "see" in our shots. Pose, Polish, Cliche acting, Weight transfer, contacts, arcs, texture, asymmetry... The list goes on and on. So how can a young animator develop his or her eye to recognize such stuff? One way is to look at really well done work and break down the components of what makes it so good. Whenever I see something that catches my eye, I really try to frame through it and understand what is going on. Just recently, I saw a bunch of Aardmann Animation. One thing that really blew me away was how good the facial performances were. They had so much thought process and character. I was grinning from ear to ear watching them. It made me want to look at them again as a student. I think that is the key. We can enjoy a film or cartoon as an audience member, but then you have to look at it with another set of eyes. Look at it again with the eye of an animator.

Another way of developing your eye is to look in everyday life. How people or animals do things. If you can, hang around people that are better than you so they can teach you a thing or two, here and there. Whatever you can do to pick up things. Its very important to grow. Ultimately, you are developing your style and that hawk eye for spotting what is and is not working. It takes time, but like anything good, its worth it.


ps - More splinecasts coming. (Anim Roundtables, Pete Doctor, Doug Sweetland) Bare with us, they take time. Feel free to leave a tip in our tip jar at the bottom of the site to help purchase some better equipment.


Blogger Bobby Pontillas said...

Thanks for your insights.

Doug Sweetland, fantastic! I've heard so many animators reference his name and sight his scenes, it'll be nice to hear some insights from the man himself.

1:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is this tip jar you speak of? I don't remember seeing a post about that.

2:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's awesome, yeah come to think of it, I do learn a lot from people just critiquing my stuff...

6:41 AM

Anonymous Rob from Jersey said...

Pete Doctor!! Next to more Roundtables, that's the most exciting SplineCast news in a while. Looking forward to it! And between 'casts, I just want to say I really enjoy the informative articles you all post. I feel good about myself when I read something and think, "Hey, I already do that!" (like watching animation frame by frame) But what's best is when I read something that's totally new to me and makes me even more excited to know my animation knowledge is growing. Thanks guys!

3:55 PM

Blogger Marcos Gp said...

It's been a year since you were in Spain giving us your pearls of wisdom about how to put all those elements in our shots.

It really was the best lecture I never had about how to approach a scene.

Thanks so much for keeping the spline cast alive :)

12:03 AM

Blogger Fränk Spalteholz said...

hi gordon! you're right! when i started animating as a senior i had a great and unmercyful supervisor (thx seb!). at the beginning i only "felt" that something was wrong, but couldn't figure it out. so i went to him and asked. he watched it and then he wanted to know "when" (the moment) i felt that something was missing or wrong. that teached me to analyse. after a while it became easier 'cause i learned to see motion as a combination of the single principles. sounds simple but it was a great moment *sniff* ...

thanks for your mind and best wishes


12:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

YES, I agree, that moment was great, but I'm still waiting for all the hundreds of moments that still need to happen...

Yeah, I guess it just takes time and experience to really develop the eye

12:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

THANK YOU ANDREW GORDON!!! This was totally cool! I appreciate what you splinedoctors are doing for us. Just coming on here is learning!

12:57 PM

Blogger k. borcz said...

More splinecasts on the way you say? Huzzah!

And where pray tell good sir is this "tip jar" you speak of?

1:07 PM

Blogger k. borcz said...

nevermind, found the jar...

ps. Loved the "developing your Eye" post.

1:10 PM

Blogger Dave said...

Always in "sight" ful! har har har...

Awesome stuff and thanks for sharing. Can't wait for the new Splinecasts!

2:30 PM

Blogger Fränk Spalteholz said...

AAhhh misstake! of course i'm not a senior animator i'm a junior ;)

2:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Virtuousity for virtuousity's sake is an enemy to art. Developing good taste and judgement is the key (and even BAD taste is better than NO taste!).

8:18 PM

Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

Thanks for all the nice comments. We really appreciate it.

Marcos, Thanks for the comment. Spain was a blast.

As for the Tip Jar, its at the bottom of the blog. Not obligatory, just there if you want to help support us getting new equipment.


9:49 AM

Blogger Ryan Hagen said...

Good post. I think every animator works on this constantly or at least should. I frame through things like crazy as well. Almost everything I watch get's framed through. Mostly by habit now. But it's a great way to really analyze what you're digging about something. I look forward to more splinecasts.

7:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderfull information.

1:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all spline doctors,

When will you come to India. we ve been wating for years now for some like you to come and guide us.

1:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a reason the tip jar's in Euros?

4:39 PM

Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

In response to Anonymous,

We do teaching gigs around the world. Nobody has invited us to teach in India. Im sure if something came along, one of the Splinedoctors might be interested n doing a seminar. I do understand that alot of animation companies are in India.

As for the tip jar being in Euros... I dont know anything about that.


7:56 PM

Blogger chintan said...

Hello Sir,

I'll be lookin forward to tht day when u Docs come to India....

And as always... this post was awesome tooooo.... thank you very much :D

Chintan :D

8:11 AM

Blogger Fernando said...

After I read this, I re-watched some Aardman stuff. I am always astonished how Gromit is such a great character. We always know what he is thinking, and he doesn't talk or even has a mouth.

I just read all the posts in the blog. Awesome work doctors! Thanks for all the insights

8:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there going to be a Cars 2?

2:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, there have been rumors that there will be a Cars 2? So is this true? Will there be a Cars 2?

2:43 PM

Anonymous Josh Hucul said...

If you write anonymously we don't know who to laugh at when you respond to yourself within a couple minutes of the first comment.

11:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well were both different people wanting to know the same thing. IS THERE GOING TO BE A CARS 2?

2:13 PM

Blogger Fränk Spalteholz said...

I think this blog is not be intended to talk about Pixar-insights.

1:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Google Maps street view Pixar :),+California,+United+States&ie=UTF8&ll=37.837445,-122.283754&spn=0.022505,0.039954&z=15&om=1&layer=c&cbll=37.830558,-122.282162&cbp=1,344.0113953225484,0.519229126214375,3

9:25 PM

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3:21 AM

Anonymous Marlene said...

It won't work in actual fact, that's exactly what I suppose.

1:31 PM


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