From script to storyboard to animatic now let's get animating!
This is the labour-intensive bit and a very joyful stage of production where you get to see your vision come alive.
More than a "How I animated the episode" article this is a "How I approach animation" overall.
When it comes to animation I see a lot of artists trying to get all the fancy movement into a shot. That's great when you have a bucket load of time to spend on a single project. But in the real world, it's more about being efficient with the time spent on a shot. And by doing that you have to narrow down the animation to its basics.
Imagine; Your four-armed character running around, jumping over elephants whilst juggling plates on a stick, on one hand, clapping with the other two and holding a bow and arrow with the last one and shooting it with its mouth. Sounds epic doesn't it?
But when dealing with clients, you are dealing with time and budget and these are the things to consider when talking about "keeping it simple".
This is how I approach animation; by being efficient with time I'm pulling down the animation to its basic movements and shots. Enough for the story or gag to come across. All studios do this once you learn to analyze the shots.
In Japan, this is a common practice. Sometimes a character is talking a fair amount of exposition, but to avoid having to stick to a shot where two characters run through a green field while talking and interacting with one another, notice that there will be long cuts to backgrounds or a stream of water or a tree with sunbeams coming through it.
I apply this principle regularly whether a client has a limited budget or time restraints. Most of the time there is no need for big theatrics unless your animation is action-heavy.
With this first episode, I could have had Max walking through the forest while searching for the cicada but instead, I stuck to him hiding in the bushes. And… instead of having him crawling from one bush to another, he just appears.
Does it matter how he got to the other bushes? No, it doesn't. It's a gag in its self and saves animation time.
I also don't animate all frames to make a movement work but sometimes a slight tilt of the head is more than enough.
Certainly, I could have spent so much more time on movement! But for what end? We aren't here to win an Oscar (or are we?).
Stick to the idea and what serves the idea. Mixed with time and budget efficiency.
I'm not saying to cut out all the amazing jumping, twirling and endless walk cycles. But to ask yourself if it's actually serving the narrative or it's there to make it pretty and showcase your skills.
Here a process clip so you have an idea how I animated the characters.