Friday, November 30, 2018

A Year of Animation: Giant Robots

Back in Grad School, we had a class called Photography Core. It was split into three sections across three quarters -- yes, we were on the quarter system back then. Well during the second section (Winter quarter), Erik took the better part of the quarter teaching us several principles of animation. I wasn't getting 'animation on a curve'. At all. So, after screwing up the first attempt at the assignment, when I talked to him about it in his office after class, Erik held up an imaginary gun and then acted out the motion of a gunslinger pulling the gun from the holster and raising the gun -- all the while explaining how the elbow bent during the motion and worked with the shoulder's motion as opposed to locking the elbow in place while making all the raising motion of the gun come from the shoulder alone. He compared how a gunslinger would perform that motion in real life and then exaggerated for an animation -- which led to a discussion on acting in animation and why these extra motions and exaggerations were important in animation. With my newfound knowledge -- though I must admit, I still didn't grasp the concept fully -- I took another stab at the assignment and came up with the following animation:

So, since I've been too busy to make a brand-new animation for November, I decided to tinker with an old one. The original animation had the robot taking a step, firing the gun, lowering the gun, firing a rocket, then raising and firing the gun again, and then lowering the gun -- obviously, different from the above.

As part of my grad school records and films reclamation project, I exported all of the above frames from Macromedia Director to Windows bitmaps. At that point, the animation was "saved" and I can import the frames into any editing program I wish, be it Premiere or whatever comes next a couple years down the road.

This was an interesting exercise. Copy-and-pasting frames to the end of the animation in order to make it longer was easy enough. But in order to get the animation to compile to an mp4 using the H.264 codec at the best resolution possible for an 8-bit image with a gradient for the background, that took some trial and error to get it right.

And that little bit of knowledge will serve me well when I decide to make mp4's of the other animations from Photo Core II or my Spring film "the Chameleon" from Photo Core III.

Oh, and I was on an Enya kick back then, so that's why the title card uses the "Enya" true-type font.