Here is a beginner’s tip from Tony White’s Animator’s Notebook which all animators should keep in mind regardless of experience. Tony highlights the importance of testing your animation while in the process of creating and provides a few tools for this important task. Tony White’s Animator’s Notebook is a beautiful handbook of insider tips and techniques for budding animators working with pencil and animation paper as well as 3D applications.
The Importance of Testing
It is extremely important for animators to test and review their work regularly as they go along. In all honesty it is very, very rare for any animator to get things right on the first attempt. Consequently, the process of animation is very much one of trial and error. So testing everything as you go along is strongly advised. For traditional 2D animators, regular “flipping” of their drawings is a must.
Flipping is where an animator holds up a stack of animation drawings (lowest numbers at the bottom, highest at the top) and views them as they flip rapidly from bottom to top. Flipping gives a sense of how an entire action is shaping up before it is formally shot. It doesn’t necessarily give a perfect representation of how the action will appear in real time on a screen, but it does give a strong overall impression of how it will look. Here’s another example of scene flipping.
Sometimes traditional animators will want to check just the few drawings they are working on rather than an entire sequence. In this case, peg flipping, or rolling, as it is sometimes called, is used. Traditional animators need to use registration pegs to synchronize their drawings one to another. They will either position these pegs at the top of the drawing (top pegs animation) or at the bottom (bottom pegs animation), depending on preference. Peg flipping therefore is a process of interweaving the fingers between the drawings and flipping them in sequence to see how it is moving. Here’s an example of peg flipping for bottom peg animators.
And here is an example of top peg flipping.
All types of animators will need to test their work by playback before anyone signs off on it. Most traditional animation software, as well as 3D animation software, allows animators to play back their animation in real time, whether that real time is at 24 fps (frames per second), 25fps, or 30 fps. However, whatever system of animation is being attempted, the regular playing back of animation is of paramount importance, and clearly, the more the animators test and refine their work, the better it ultimately will be.
Tony White, renowned animator, director, professor, lecturer, and author, has been in the animation industry for over 30 years, and currently teaches 2D animation and oversees principal animation production classes at DigiPen Institute of Technology. White began his career working with legendary industry professionals like award-winning illustrator Ralph Steadman, animation gurus Ken Harris, Art Babbit (original lead animator on Pinocchio, Fantasia, and others at Disney). He also personally assisted, then directed/animated for Richard Williams (3-time Oscar winner and author of The Animator’s Survival Kit). In addition to being the Dean of Fine Art and Animation at DigiPen, White founded and presides over The Animaticus Foundation, which he formed to preserve, teach and evolve the art form of traditional 2D animation.
Tony has also authored: