PDA

View Full Version : Questions about animation (take 372)


bigblackbox
06-30-2004, 03:21 PM
Well, if nothing else, I hope I'm learning to ask better questions. I'm afraid that's not the case, but here's another stab at it.

There are 10 animations here, all of them Flash (I think): Animation Mysteries (about.com) (http://animation.about.com/library/weekly/blmysteryindex.htm)

I like these. I'd be thrilled if I could do something similar. They are - it seems to me - pretty straightforward. I mean, this isn't the Matrix or Finding Nemo.

Unfortunately, I don't know enough to ask really specific questions. So here are my general questions, and I hope that even if they are the wrong questions, they will help by showing what I do and don't understand already.

1. Let's say that as an exercise I want to duplicate one of these animations - sort of like copying the Masters in painting. I run out an buy Flash MX. What will it take for me to have a finished version?

I'm hoping for an answer along these lines (of course, I'm just making this up - I'm also hoping that someone has a real answer): It will take about a day of playing around with Flash MX to figure out the basics of the software. Then you have to draw all of the elements, which will take a couple days. Then you start doing the animations. It will take a couple days to get a rough sketch finished. Refining and finalizing the animation can take any where from another day to a year, depending on how sophisticated you want the final project to be.

That's just the animation, though - the example also has sound. To do that, you need ... (I know so little about this I won't even attempt a fake answer).

2. What options are there beside Flash, and what is gained/lost by using different software?

For example, After Effects seems powerful but really complicated - and maybe it's much more than I need to do what I want to do. LiveMotion seems intuitive, but Adobe has discontinued it - will it be obsolete in a year? Poser looks fun but time-intensive, and 3D may be more than I need.

For me, things like "simple," "easy to use," and "intuitive" are good. "Steep learning curve" is bad. I don't mind putting time into it if it will be worthwhile, but I would like to be able to figure out if it's worthwhile before spending 6 months figuring out how to draw a circle.

3. Sound?! I'd like to include it, but have no idea what's involved. Sound isn't essential for me at this point, but it is something I am interested in adding at some point (once I get the animation figured out).

4. What other software is needed for the animation (ignoring sound for now)? For example, could the animations at the link I gave be done COMPLETELY in Flash? Or is the artist relying on other software too?

5. What do I need to know about output options? Flash, Quicktime, Real Media, etc... What's the difference? Is it possible to output these animations to CD or video tape? What if I wanted to show an animation to my Mom, who doesn't have a computer and has no idea what the Internet is?

6. Input options... Beside drawing directly in the program (Flash, LiveMotion), how can I use/animate images? I have a lot of questions here, and I'm not sure whether they are redundant, so I'll just list some:
a. I draw a character in Photoshop, and want to use it in an animation. What do I need to do? Say it's a stick figure. Does the head, each arm, each leg, etc need to be a separate layer? Does this have to be done in Photoshop, or can I break the image apart in an animation program? Before importing the image into animation software, do I need to make the background transparent? do I need to crop out everything except the lines?
b. Similar question if I create a character in Poser, or some other 3D software.
c. I draw a character on paper. Can I scan this and use it in an animation? Is it best to draw and scan a variety of positions (analogous to key frames), or to import one scanned image and then manipulate it in the animation program? Do I need to edit the scan (eg, in Photoshop) before using it in an animation?
d. I download an image from the web - eg, a picture of George Bush - that I want to animate. Or I use a digital photo I took. Obviously, this won't be a very realistic animation, but can you do anything decent with it? Are images from the web a problem because resolution will be low? Is it possible to rotate the image (eg, I want George twirling like a ballerina) or does it have to be "flat"?

7. How important is file size? Is this more of a concern for things like banner ads than short (2-5 min) "movies"?

8. Where is the book or website that answers questions like these for confused people like me?

THANKS!

bigblackbox
06-30-2004, 05:32 PM
Thinking about this, there might be an easier question that gets to the same point.

Let's say I go out and buy animation software X (Flash, LiveMotion, Poser, etc), and I've played with this software but I'm a definite beginner. I start working on a project (eg, something like one of the cartoons in the link of my original post). I work on this consistently but not obsessively - maybe averaging 2 hrs/day. After 2 weeks, a friend says, "So what have you been working on? Let me see it."

Would my friend say, "Hey, that's kinda cool" or "You wasted 2 weeks on *that*"?

Would the friend's answer change after another 2 weeks? another 2 months?

I realize there are all kinds of details and things that would make a difference (that's why the original post was so long) - but just off the top of your head, what do you think?

furrtig
06-30-2004, 05:38 PM
oy veh!!
let me suggest my fav proggie for anim, ToonBoom Studio. here is a link to some of the anim u can do with it, http://www.toonboomstudio.com/showcase/

this can be old school anim. imagine u have a blank screen in front of you, you take the pen tool and draw the first frame, then click a button and it goes to the next empty frame, but u can still see the trace of the prev. one, and u draw the next, etc etc etc. you can then render it into an avi file or a flash file.

or...
check out Moho, which i believe is here http://www.lostmarble.com/moho/
this interesting little fellow lets you draw something like a man, then u can actually draw the 'bones' into the character. that is you use a tool and make, say a line from elbow to wrist, and it creates a 'bone' which allows you to then simply click on the arm and move it to a new position. U can move a 2d object! it has a time line and you advance the timeline, then move your animation and hit key frame a few times and your done.
do a google on moho and steve ryan, he has some great free online video tutorials on it.
hope this helped.
furrtig

SoniKalien
06-30-2004, 05:49 PM
Hoo boy... here we go... :D

1. Let's say that as an exercise I want to duplicate one of these animations - sort of like copying the Masters in painting. I run out an buy Flash MX. What will it take for me to have a finished version?

You could probably create an animated stick figure in a day. But eventually you are going to want more than a bunch of lines dancing around your screen.

What you'd want to do, after aquiring Flash (try the demo version?), is work through the included tutorials - picking the ones relevant to your needs. Flash isn't just about vector animations, its also about interactivity among other things - yes there are GAMES made entirely with Flash. On this level, you are going to have to learn the Lingo and scripting, and applying sripts to objects - you might even find scripting is also usefull for animation. For example, instead of moving a circle from left to right frame by frame, you can apply a script to the object - something like moveObject +200px right start frame 1 end frame 50 psuedo code used here! Basically, it has a learning like everything else, but start off simple and work your way up. Don't forget too that Flashkit (http://www.flashkit.com) is an excellent source for tutorials, examples, libraries and help. FYI a lot of Flash content is 'protected' so you can't load it in Flash and 'disassemble' it to see how it works.

2. What options are there beside Flash, and what is gained/lost by using different software?

Flash is a vector animation program, (although it can include raster bitmaps) which creates movies and interactive content, but only playable in Flash player. Offhand, the CorelDraw suite (12) comes with CorelRave which is similar to Flash and exports content playable in flash player ie Flash files. There is also MOHO (http://www.lostmarble.com/) which produces Flash files but is more geared towards character animation (with bones) than interactivity. I'd definately reccomend downloading the trial version of MOHO and go through the tutorials so see if it's what you're after.

If you want raster animation, then you are probably pushing the envelope - most animations are either created via vector animations then exported to a raster movie file format (eg AVI, MPEG, MOV) or drawn by hand and then scanned in to a image editing program (such as photoshop) to tidy it and color it, then each frame is assembled in another program (like Vegas or Adome Premiere) and output to a movie file or printed to tape. It's a lot of work doing it this way, which is why Flash is popular.

Because Flash creates primarily vector files, the end file size is waaaaaay smaller than a raster movie.

3. Sound?! I'd like to include it, but have no idea what's involved. Sound isn't essential for me at this point, but it is something I am interested in adding at some point (once I get the animation figured out).

You are going to need audio editing software like Sony's Sound Forge (used to be Sonic Foundry's), and a source. For speech, you are going to need a microphone plugged into your sound card to record your voice, alternativley you can get a text-to-speech program, if you don't mind your characters sounding like Jackie Chan :P For music, well, there are heaps of programs out there for creating music - Like Cubase or Cakewalk. These let record audio from your soundcard, midi from your keyboard, and apply effects, arrange tracks, it goes on...

There is also for a quick fix, the possibility of downloading premade sound fx from the internet - all ready to put straight into your animation.


4. What other software is needed for the animation (ignoring sound for now)? For example, could the animations at the link I gave be done COMPLETELY in Flash? Or is the artist relying on other software too?

Yes, it is possible to create complete animations in Flash - however I guarantee at some point you are going to need some form of image editing software like photoshop in your arsenal.

5. What do I need to know about output options? Flash, Quicktime, Real Media, etc... What's the difference? Is it possible to output these animations to CD or video tape? What if I wanted to show an animation to my Mom, who doesn't have a computer and has no idea what the Internet is?

Ok, Flash files are only playable in Flash player. However, it is possible to convert to a raster file format (such as realmedia, quicktime, ) which you can then burn to DVD and play on your mum's DVD player. :D

6. Input options... Beside drawing directly in the program (Flash, LiveMotion), how can I use/animate images? I have a lot of questions here, and I'm not sure whether they are redundant, so I'll just list some:

You'll find all this out as you work through tutorials, and post questions at Flashkit :p

7. How important is file size? Is this more of a concern for things like banner ads than short (2-5 min) "movies"?

if your making banner ads, then you are going to want to keep the file size as small as possible. With animations and movies, however, you can probably afford to be a little more liberal, as people realise they are about to watch a movie (thats why they clicked on the link!) and are going to have to wait a bit for it to load. There is such a thing as streaming - where once enough of the movie has loaded, it starts playing while the rest of it has downloaded. The tutorials in FlashMX cover all this.

8. Where is the book or website that answers questions like these for confused people like me?

FLASHKIT!

Once again.. www.flashkit.com

Alternatively, I reccomend 'Flash For Dummies' if you're really serious about getting into it.

THANKS!

Phew! No problem! :D

bigblackbox
06-30-2004, 05:57 PM
Hoo boy... here we go... :D

Phew! No problem! :D

Wow, thanks. Someone had mentioned FlashKit in response to another question I posted. I looked around a bit, but apparently not enough. I'll check it out again.

bigblackbox
06-30-2004, 06:00 PM
oy veh!!
let me suggest my fav proggie for anim, ToonBoom Studio. or...
check out Moho, which i believe is here [url]
furrtig

Two suggestions for Moho, and from the web site, it looks like exactly what I need. I'll download the trial version and see how it goes. I looked at ToonBoom before but didn't think it was right. However, I'm now so much more educated about this stuff ( :) ) maybe I should look again. Should probably look at Flash again too - maybe even that will make more sense now.