The video below shows the progression of an animated shot by Jamaal Bradley who worked on Tangled. It's great to see the whole process and for this project I created pre-viz (layout) in order for me to get the positions of the characters and timing roughed out before I dived into animation. With Jamaal, he also did 2D drawings, other animators I've seen have done thumbnails before animating, so it was interesting to see that extra detail he went into before going into blocking. I can see the benefits of this as it can flush out your ideas more and give you more of a basis to work off, and from here you have a better idea of what you want to act out in the reference videos. It's also good to see how even though he is a male, he does his best to put himself in a female role in order to get the references. I've mentioned in a previous post about the possibility of getting an actor in at another point to take reference from them, as good of as an idea this is, it worries me that I know what I want to get out of it, and whether or not the actor will be able to portray my ideas. A lot of animators take reference from themselves, I need to get better at it and put more emphasis in my actions.
Going through the whole progression you can see the different stages, and how many passes there are for blocking and splining. For myself, I think I need to work on defining the key poses more as when I've attempted it, and then went back to add in breakdowns/in betweens it's come out a bit messy and I've found it easier to just work my way through the whole scene. Most animators will do it Pose to Pose rather than Straight Ahead Action. The advantages of pose to pose is that it is planned out more and this is how key framing works when using the computer. I do work with poses, however I tend to put the breakdowns with the key poses and work with it all at the same time. I'm not sure if this ends up being more time consuming or makes it harder for myself, but I think I need to try defining key frames more and working with breakdowns as this is how it's done in the industry. Everyone works in their own way but when it comes to industry, there will be dailies where you show the progression of your shot, and I need to have the blocking of the key poses done to show. I can't try and have every detail blocked out as there won't be time, that's why it's broken down like it is. It's something I really need to explore and experiment with further.
Another interesting thing is that with the lip sync, it wasn't put in until the spline process. As I've mentioned, everyone has their own way of working, and for myself I've found it useful to block out the lip sync with the blocking of the poses. I picked up this method through Keith Lango, who produces a lot of great animation tutorials. To me it made sense with what he said about blocking, put everything in in order to get a critique because then you know you're showing everything you've got. The director then can see everything, he/she won't have to second guess about something because you haven't put it in yet. For myself as well, I find it easier to put in the lip sync along with the emotion of the face and the reaction of the rest of the body, it just all seems to flow with each other. Your body is always doing something.
It's really useful to see the whole progression of a shot and the specific in-betweens not just the basic blocking and straight to spline. I'm constantly learning as I go and this is just something to aspire to and to learn from.
Progression of an Animated Shot: Gothel & Rapunzel Disney's Tangled from Jamaal Bradley on Vimeo.