Most people understand animation on a basic level- it’s nothing more than moving pictures. Wait no, thats wrong. The pictures aren’t moving.
The variation and continuity between two or more images implies motion. Animation is an illusion.
Animation very quickly falls into two categories: ‘complete shit’ and ‘nobody notices my brilliant solution’. We’ll be focusing on the latter, because really really good animation goes unnoticed and doesn’t raise any flags that it’s wrong. We accept it.
That’s what we animators call ‘selling it’.
This dog is among my favorite animations of all time. The animator behind this was extremely talented and conscientious of what they were doing. The hands are extremely simple, with zero effort toward realism. And this is why it works so well.
The hand animation sells it. It’s hilarious and straight to the point.
SUBTLE THINGS ARE SUBTLE
Although I’m a character animator, I appreciate the work that goes into our AT&T banners. Tricks that are used in character animation are frequently used to give personality and life to text and static images. Use the arrow keys to scrub these movies frame by frame to analyze the details.
Attention is drawn to the dandelion as the camera slowly pulls back. Did you notice the multilayers of the dandelion to give it depth? How about the quick transition from the hi-res dandelion to the low-res version? The whole atmosphere of this animation is very soothing.
Notice how the question mark animates into the scene- this is a classic skid-stop often used in cartoons. It works well in this case to give more personality to the motion. Also notice the motion of the circles and CTA on the endframes, their pop and skid-stop add a fluidity to the overall feel.
There isn’t any attempt at realism in this banner- the smoke and flames are very simplified cartoons. the smoke in particular is comprised of circles- the main shape behind AT&Ts branding.
FOR REALS, SCREW REALISM
Digital 3D technology has advanced by leaps and bounds since the days of Toy Story. That separation between realism and CGI has advanced so far that 3D renders now exceed hyper-realism. Richard Parker in The Life of Pi is a great example- it is difficult to determine which is the real and cgi tiger.
See the answer here: http://journey.lifeofpimovie.com/#!/richard-parker
Richard Parker (the name of the tiger) is an impressive technical feat that emphasizes my point: really good animation doesn’t stand out. And it’s costly. This doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing, but unless clients can see a value in what you’ve achieved, it is very difficult to sell it. Literally.
So where do we go from here?
THE NEW ERA OF ANIMATION
I’m really excited about the possibilities of the new era of animation. Take a look at Tiny Worlds, for an inspiring combination of real-world video, 3D renders and 2D animation. See if how how many details you can pick out that help sell these animations.