Animate features and advantages
- Vector stick animation allows very easy and quick manipulation.
- Easy motion graphics with shapes.
- Html coding for motion graphics.
- Character rigging and links to Adobe character animator make character development relatively straightforward.
- Symbols for automating cycles and loops
- Layer blend and opacity modes.
- Hand painting styles and link to Adobe Animator.
- Potential for very low band width.
- Interactivity with html canvas.
Animate gaps and challenges
- Number of features means a very high learning curve.
- Artistic styles are not as advanced as Procreate or TV Paint.
- Can crash easily if overloaded with complexity eg of art brush strokes or complex characters.
Ross Bollinger Pencilmation https://www.youtube.com/user/rossbollinger
Ross Bollinger Pencilmation https://www.youtube.com/user/rossbollinger
Drawing and basic keyframing
Using Adobe Animate for Frame by Frame animation requires:
- very good drawing for key poses and in-betweens
- good understanding of the Disney animation principles
- understanding of drama and timing
The best tutorials available are by:
Howard Wimshurst Animator Guild: https://www.animatorguild.com
Flow, intensity and dramatic timing
But with good drawing and understanding how to create dramatic timing, extremely dynamic animations are possible.
The best tutorials available are again by:
Howard Wimshurst Animator Guild: https://www.animatorguild.com
Lighting, atmosphere and distortion
Camera movement and 3D
Adobe Animate 2020 other features and tutorials
Character animation and rigging
In parallel to experimentation with physical materials, I developed technical skills in a range of digital software options that can simplify and automate the drawing process.
I started with experimenting with iPad software as a means of quick exploration, brainstorming and drafting. Procreate 5 and Adobe Fresco in particular have brushes and graphic capabilities that are very useful as part of a workflow with more professional animation software.
I later developed skills in software used by professional independent animators – particularly TVPaint – for my more experimental polished vignettes.
Software Overview and Feature Checklist
My list of key things to look for when choosing animation software:
- Drawing tools vector drawing tools for creating motion and scaling and/or pixel-based tools for more artistic effects. Including image import so that backgrounds and other features can be created from photographs, artwork or imported images from other drawing and painting aps.
- Symbols or re-usable elements, including import from other software.
- Puppets and rigs : ability to create characters with movable skeletons and bones that can then be manipulated for action as in 3D animation.
- Tweening or smoothing/interpolation of animation between drawn key-frames, including control of the number of before/after frames, colouring and opacity.
- Onion-skinning: viewing of previous and following drawn frames to facilitate accurate drawing of current frames
- Layers to be able to create scenes with background, foreground and multiple animated elements with different animation rhythms.
- Timeline features: control over frame speed and duration, easy addition and deletion of frames.
- Audio features to import music, narration and sound effects – preferably onto separate layers for multiple sound effects, music and/or voice over.
- Text features to add titles, captions, credits and additional text overlays.
I started by experimenting on the iPad with different software, to experiment with different styles and basics of short animation:
But I found the professional software on a pc with bigger screen and much better timeline automation features much more user and RSI-friendly for my work. I was already familiar with Adobe Animate, used for some of the diagram animations on this blog. But after looking through tutorials and reviews on You Tube, I decided on:
- TVPaint because of its drawing and painting features.
- Adobe Premiere for final compositing and sound effects
Other software to be further explored in future:
- Blender for 3D
- Adobe After Effects for compositing
- Adobe Animate for tweening and interactivity
- ToonBoom studio for easier smoother cartoon-style animation
!!Software comparison Excel chart to be done
iPad Software Review
by Jacob Kafka for hand drawn animation application runs on Android, iOS, Mac OS, and Windows.
- Well-designed timeline with unlimited layers, easily adjustable exposure length of individual drawings, for pose-to-pose or straight-ahead animating
- Onion skinning
- Preview playback and scrub along timeline
- One audio layer for importing audio and lip syncing
- Import video for rotoscoping animation
- Customisable brushes
- Export animation to Quicktime video, GIF, or image sequence
- Export projects for import to Adobe Flash/Animate, After Effects, and Toon Boom Harmony
- Limited brushes
- Only one audio layer
- Transformation features with numeric position, rotation and scale, but limited flexibility and without registration point
Developed by Visual Blasters LLC for both android and iOS. This is a much more robust animation software designed specifically for animation.
- very quick and easy drawing and frame by frame animation with anime style marker and brush, onion-skinning etc
- multiple layers for each frame to do complex moving backgrounds and camera effects
- easy selection and transform tools to move objects around in space with registration point
- easy timeline manipulation
- can import, add and remove video
- multiple track audio including import and recording of own audio as well as in-App sound libraries.
- has a video capture to export a record of the animation process
- export as MP4, GIF, IMAGE SEQ
- separation of timeline and layers makes animation quite time-consuming.
- limited brushes biased towards anime style
For short artistic cel animation and/or artistic redrawing of animations from more specialised animation software. Only available for iPad.
- Sophisticated drawing, painting and image creation tools including infinitely customisable brushes and smudge brushes, blend modes, masking, flexible selection and transformation tools, effects and ability to import photographs and video to timeline.
- Timeline with assignable foreground and background layers, and possibility of separate frame-lengths for each frame.
- Layers for each frame produced through grouping in a separate layers panel.
- Onion-skinning flexible options of number of frames, colouring and opacity
- Text tools
- Export of creative process videos.
- No audio
- Complex to use unless you are very familiar with procreate drawing and painting tools.
- Animation features are a bit clunky because of the separation of timeline and layers panels.
Very simple easy to use programme for digital flipbooks. Its simplicity makes things quick and easy to produce minimalist animations that can be exported to Procreate and other programmes if needed. Very good for learning basics of animation.
- 4 basic brushes
- basic timeline without layers but can allocate a frame for background and import photos and movieclips to it for rotoscoping.
- inApp purchase of selection and transform tools.
But a bit basic for my purposes, though was good to learn on.
Animation desk by Kdan is another animation app that allows to create animations and cartoons on android or iOS device. It is free and easy to use app where you can
- good selection of 45 different brushes
- easy frame by frame animation with easy alteration to frame timing etc and storyboard labelling and export
- create animations on videos, images, PSD layers.
- on-line Kdan cloud community
- no audio
- not text
- no layer blending
Lego-style 3D animation developed by Google for android and iOS users.
This is a very simple App that is an entertaining introduction to 3D storytelling with narration and mood music. Movies are inherently amusing because they have the feel of children playing with lego figures:
- You have the option of different scene numbers but are guided to have a beginning, middle and end. But these can be swapped around and extra scenes added.
- Each scene is recorded live with a set length and stop watch while the director moves the characters around and does a voice-over narrative or adds live sounds.
- You can zoom in and out of scenes with a somewhat jerky movement. The inbuilt scenes are quite complex with different floors of buildings and moving parts. You can draw your own very simple coloured backdrops – one brush, eraser, paintbucket and large set palette of colours.
- There are an array of inbuilt characters that walk, talking mouths, can be scaled and moved around. Arms and feet can kick, hit and hug, but limited actions. Colours and certain parameters of each character can be changed. Only one character can be moved at a time – like children playing with lego.
- You can draw your own characters and objects that can be extruded to be 3D but with no moving parts.
- There is a choice of mood music – one per scene – with volume control. If you want your own music this would have to be input at the time of recording. There is no facility for importing your own sounds.
Stop Motion Studio
Stop motion studio is a popular animation apps for android and iOS users which allows make animation video on your device. It is an easiest app to get you into stop motion movie making for android and iOS users. It is also used as slow motion video app to make slow motion video with different video editor options. App has lots of attractive features, which makes it super easy to get into stop motion video. It has different modes as overlay mode, grid mode, integrated movie editor and others.
Stick Nodes is a tweened IK stick animation Apdeveloped by ForTheLoss Games, Inc for Android and iOS users. It is a powerful but also quite clunky and complicated stickman animator app with:
- options to construct fully animating kinematic stick figures and/or import ones ready made. These can be exported to a library for re-use.
- add one background image per project
- automatic frame-tweening with ease and stretch
- sound effects using sound effect apps
- text captions
- virtual camera to move and zoom.
It is a possible Ap to use if you do not have more professional Aps like Adobe Animate. But time for the steep learning curve is substantial to do more than a few Japanese kick box animations with text (see below). That time is better spent leaning Adobe Animate.
I include these tutorials here because some of the techniques can be applied to cel animation figures also.
PicsArt Animator is a GIF and video maker app which allows you to create animations & cartoons on your android or iOS device. You can easily click snap using your 3D camera apps and use them to create beautiful animation video on your smartphone. It allows you to draw frame by frame animations and see animation timeline with play mode option. There are some advance drawing and sketching tools listed in this app which can be used to make beautiful animation video for free. Along with these you can also use multi-layering for complex animations and also control animation length and speed.
Animates loop photos and cinemagraphs.
Movepic is a popular photo motion apps for android and iOS users which allows you to easily create live photo with animate effect. It is available with both free as well as app to purchase option with lots of features. It brings fabulous photos & gifs into your social life with various animated effects and beautiful filters. You can easily animate anything in loops photos simply by drawing a path , and make your still images into awesome loop photos & cinemagraphs. Along with these it also allows you to adjust the speed of the loops photo animation.
Cutout animation is a form of stop-motion animation using flat characters, props and backgrounds cut from materials such as paper, card, stiff fabric or photographs. The cut outs are used as puppets for stop motion. Cut-out animation puppets can be made with figures that have joints made with a rivet or pin or, when simulated on a computer, an anchor. These connections act as mechanical linkage, which have the effect of a specific, fixed motion.
The technique of most cut-out animation is comparable to that of shadow play, but with stop motion replacing the manual or mechanical manipulation of flat puppets. Flat, jointed puppets have been in use in shadow plays for many centuries, such as in the Indonesian wayang tradition and in the “ombres chinoises” that were especially popular in France in the 18th and 19th century. The subgenre of silhouette animation is more closely related to these shadow shows and to the silhouette cutting art that has been popular in Europe especially in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Cut-out techniques were relatively often used in animated films until cel animation became the standard method (at least in the United States). Before 1934, Japanese animation mostly used cut-out techniques rather than cel animation, because celluloid was too expensive.
While sometimes used as a relatively simple and cheap animation technique in children’s programs (for instance in Ivor the Engine), cut-out animation has also often been used as a highly artistic medium that distinguishes itself more clearly from hand-drawn animation. Today, cut-out-style animation is frequently produced using computers, with scanned images or vector graphics taking the place of physically cut materials.
Of most relevance to my work here are:
– puppets manipulation of cut-out photographs, drawings and other flat materials.
– manipulation of drawings and paintings in natural media like charcoal and scraperboard to produce expressive lines
For other types of stop motion see my research and own work in:
History and Evolution
The world’s earliest known animated feature films were political cut-out animations made in Argentina by Quirino Cristiani. He generally animated on his own. One film could take 7-8 months. Unfortunately the films were burned in a fire, and not much remains.
Made extraordinarily elaborate silhouette animations. She invented the multiplane camera with background, middle ground and foreground and lit from below to give the illusion of depth.
She used a similar technique to produce different monochrome and coloured styles with different degrees of ornament and abstraction in the cut-outs.
Her earliest animations were: Das Ornament des Verliebten Herzens (1919); Amor und das Standhafte Liebespaar (1920); Der Fliegende Koffer (1921); Der Stern von Bethlehem (1921); Aschenputtel (1922); Das Geheimnis der Marquise (1922, advertisement for Nivea); Dornröschen (1922) and Barcarole (1924, advertisment for Mauxion).
Her most famous film is “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” 1926 – the oldest surviving full-length animated film. Pre-dating Disney by a decade.
She continued to make dozens of shorts throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Other projects were her fantastical short animation, “Papageno” (1935), and a dazzling struggle between the Frog Prince and a covetous octopus. She moved to London to escape from Hitler in 1938 and worked and lived in the United Kingdom until her death in 1982.
Japanese cut-out animation
Before 1934, Japanese animation mostly used cut-out techniques rather than cel animation, because celluloid was too expensive.
Some modern Japanese animators have also used cut-out with painted puppets.
Russian cut-out animation
!! More research needed
Czech animator Dagmar Doubková created several short cut- out animations, often with a feminist message and very distinctive painted style:
– as Oparádivé Sally (1976) (broadcast in the USA as About Dressy Sally on Nickelodeon’s Pinwheel)
– Sbohem, Ofélie (Goodbye Ophelia) (1978)
– Královna Koloběžka první (Queen Scooter First) (1981)
– The Impossible Dream (1983)
– Shakespeare 2000 (1988)
She later co-founded 3D Art And Animation Studio with her husband.
United States and Canada
Digital cut-out animation
Many digital software programmes can now produce different types of cut-out puppet animation styles.
Physical cut-outs can be filmed in Stop Motion using Stop Motion Studio on the iPad or Dragon Frame on the pc.
Software like Adobe Animate and Adobe After Effects have 2D puppet rigging features to manipulate photos of physical puppets or imports of digital puppets from digital drawing programmes like Illustrator or Photoshop.
‘Rotoscoping’ is the process of frame-by-frame tracing of recorded movements of actual humans or events. It involves drawing and painting on and manipulating video or photo sequences to produce animated frames.
This can be done using natural media on tracing paper or cinema film or digitally in any professional 2D animation software.
Rotoscoping is not an easy option to avoid drawing freehand. Producing dramatic animation requires in-depth understanding of keyframing and movement to select the frames, and good drawing/painting skills to select and reproduce elements on each frame. Drawing mechanically on top of photographs and video produces robotic and uninteresting animation – unless that is the effect required.
– rotoscoping limits possibilities for creating imagined worlds and narrative
– real actors and objects do not have line, so tracing often results in lines being too prominent and sharp, too flaccid or too stiff.
But it is possible to produce very beautiful work this way that also plays on distinctions between fantasy and reality. With good drawing skills and an understanding of ‘boil’, keyframes and dramatic abstraction, different degrees of replication and fidelity of line and/or shape can original produce a range of effects from mechanical to chaotic.
Visual experiments January 2021
1: Rotoscope as Reference: Mary’s Story, Uganda: Cow Walk
2: Rotoscope as line animation and Effects: Pig Tales, West Bengal
3: Rotoscope as impression: Airplane, Pakistan
History of rotoscoping
Rotoscoping was developed in 1915 by animator Max Fleisher who used this technique as a way to create a seemingly more ‘realistic’ (or photorealistic) style of movement. Disney and other studios used this technique as one way of enhancing ‘realism’ in animation through the mimicry of live action.
The first software to do digital interpolated rotoscoping, ‘Rotoshop Software’, was developed by computer scientist Bob Sabiston in the 90’s which he used to make his film “ Snack and Drink ”. Subsequently this software was used by director Richard Linklater for the production of his feature films Waking Life (2001) and Scanner Darkly (2006).
Digital rotoscoping: Filmed or live media are used as a reference point for the creation of digital animated movement: motion capture, interpolated rotoscoping, mattes and frame by frame rotoscoping.
Motion capture: Uses live actors and the signals of their movement is interpreted by a computer.
Mattes/Masks/Stencils: Similar to motion capture but uses two dimensional sources to create a silhouette (called a matte) that can be used to extract that object’s shape from a scene for use on a different background. This extraction is often aided by green screen technology, motion-tracking and/or digital onion-skinning. Then images are composited in layers these in much the same way as a stencil or cut out shape would work in analogue collage/layering. Digital rotoscoping plays a large role in the production of visual effects and animation.
Interpolated Rotoscoping: the digital equivalent to the pose-to-pose approach. The animator sets a particular style, line weight and colour. They then link key drawings to anchor points in the source footage. The computer then ‘interpolates’ all the in-between movements according to the action on screen.
Digital Frame By Frame Rotoscoping does the in-betweens by hand – either in physical or digital media. Each frame of the video footage is drawn or painted over, one by one. Done digitally the technique requires import of the source video, but can be done in most professional animation programmes. In physical media every source frame is printed out and manipulated before being rescanned and played in sequential order.
Rotoscoping for reference: Experiment 1, The Cow, Uganda
7 Woman gets a cow
Rotoscoping as animation: Experiment 2: Pig Fight, India
Rotoscope Pig Fight
Rotoscoping over an edited version of the Kadiri pig fight video in TVPaint. These are not so successful and not as dynamic as I would like them to be.
The line drawing would be better as a gesture drawing from live video. The coloured version would be more interesting painting into that digitally or on acetate using printouts from the line animation as underguide.
Rotoscoping as animation: Experiments 3: Domestic Violence, Pakistan
Key Issues and Conclusions