Your animation muscles are just like any other muscle in your body. They need exercise so that you can make them stronger and less flabby. I love animation and I love animating and the thing I do most outside of work is an animation workout. It’s easy to do and doesn’t take a lot of time. Many of us get caught up in animating huge acting assignments or even longer pieces of pantomime animation. I think these types of assignments are useful and necessary on a reel, but sometimes I think a quick workout can really be more beneficial to your overall success. What I mean by a quick work out is I take one principle of animation or two and create animation to focus on them. I generally just use a prim box or sphere, that way I’m not tempted or distracted by complex humans characters. Remember the goal here is just to focus on one particular thing and animate it really well, polish the crap out of that box so much the corners become rounded. For example lets say I wanted to focus on Overlap. I could easily create a prim box, parent another prim box to it and I’ve got a rough stand-in for a chest and an arm lets say. With this built I’m off and working out my overlap. Turn the box and have the box arm overlap not that hard or is it?
Slow-in and Slow-outs no problem create a prim sphere and just have it move from one side of the screen to another and back again or have it move around the screen slowing in and out of certain key positions. Quick and easy. Want to focus on Drag create a prim box moving up and down and around the screen picking one corner or edge of the box to lead while the other end drags behind.
None of these are going to go on your reel, but hopefully you’ll get a better understanding of the animation principles. That way you can put them together in a more complex piece of animation you would put on your reel. You’ll also get a better understanding of how to use your tools. You might focus one time trying to animate the slow in and slow out of a ball moving around just with the graph editor with just keys at your main poses. Or you might animate something in stepped mode animating every frame so you get a better understanding of spacing and how that relates to the graph editor. Maybe you have a problem with things strobing all the time in quick moves. This is a perfect way to help figure out to solve that problem. Without the pressure of an acting piece or pressure from anything you are free to experiment and mess up and try again because they don’t take very long, and no one is going to see them. Just like working out it’s the end result we are working towards.
Dr. Stephen G.