Lesson 2: Intro. to Animation

The goals of this lesson:

Introduction to Animation

Your static artwork might look fantastic but if you need to make it really come alive, animating it is an effective solution. It's surpising how even the most subtle of animations can transform your work.

"Melancholy Goldfish" © Nathan Atkins 2009

Principles of Animation
Before we explore animation methods, spend 1/2 hr watching background information on the Principles of Animation. These principles are guidelines to how to achieve convincing, effective animation.

This series of videos from Alan Becker Tutorials on Youtube explains the 12 Principles of Animation with clarity.


History of Animation

If you're interested in the genesis of animation in film these videos are worth a look:

Shape, Classic, Motion and Keyframe Animation
Artwork is animated in Animate using four methods; Shape Tweening, Classic Tweening, Keyframe Animation and Motion Tweening.

The expression "tweening" refers to the process of animating by drawing your artwork in one position, then drawing your artwork in the next position and then getting the software to draw all the frames "in-between" those two states.

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Introduction to Keyframe Animation

In this lesson you will be introduced to keyframe animation. By the end of which you should be confident enough to be able to design a keyframe animation for most scenarios.

Keyframe Animation is a way of animating by drawing in every single frame. Shown opposite is a perfect example of keyframe animation. The stick figure is best done using this process. Note: Rotoscoping is one method that can make producing authentic character animation like this easier. We explore rotoscoping later in this module.

Making keyframe animation is labor-intensive; it can be hard repetitive work. If you have a 5 second sequence of animation that plays-back at 25 frames per second that's 125 frames you have to work on.

There are some animation sequences that HAVE to be done this way such as explosions, collisions and generally anything organic in nature.

In later lessons you will be shown how to speed up the animation process by using tweening but for this lesson you need to understand how to do it the meticulous way using keyframes.

Differences between Keyframe animation and Tweening:
Historically, Walt Disney's keyframe artists would draw just the keyframes... they would draw only the frames at which something changed.

They would then hand the artwork over to the "tween" artists (tween is short for in-between) to draw the intermediate frames; eg. if animators in actionMickey Mouse dropped a ball, the keyframe artist would draw the frame where the ball left Mickey's hand AND the frame where it hit the ground and then the tween artist would draw all the intermediate frames.

The keyframe artists had it easy; however the "grunt work"was done by the tween artists.

In Animate, the computer does the "grunt work"of tweening ...the computer draws all the artwork for the intermediate frames. We'll cover this method of tweening in the next lesson.

Learning Task : Keyframe animate your kitchen

Watch the following video tutorial from "Flash Potential" on YouTube (4:41 mins) on how to animate a stick figure using keyframes. It's designed for CS5 Flash but works for newer versions too. It introduces "onion-skinning"; a key feature that helps you draw from frame to frame.

After you've watched it, try to create your own keyframe animation in your kitchen disaster scene. What you animate is up to you. A couple of suggestions; flames on the stove? Dancing rats or ants? An animated catchphrase? A cooking show intro? Kitchen apocalypse?

Submission Guide
Aim for around 40 frames of action, submit the .fla file via email for feedback.

Learning Resource:
Flash Potential has a great text & video tutorial on keyframe animation.