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CMT
01-05-2010, 12:39 PM
I have a few friends along with myself who want to put an animated short together. I know a lot about the modeling, texturing and rendering, but I'm slightly less than intermediate regarding rigging and animating. I'm learning more about animating as I go. It will be a while before we get into the animation as I need to learn a lot more.

But my question is this: Not including time developing the assets like models, scenes, matte paintings, etc., how long might it take one person to animate a decent quality 15 minute short (just the time to animate) - in Lightwave or any other package? Nothing spectacular with major effects or mass instancing or anything like that. Just 2-4 characters in a scene at one time with maybe a few background characters.

If more specifics are needed to answer that, then how about 15 seconds of animation with 3 characters in a scene?

Think along the lines of the simplicity of Veggie Tales. Something like that. I'm just trying to get an idea of how much time we need to put into this so we can lay out a schedule. Any help would be appreciated.

UnCommonGrafx
01-05-2010, 01:04 PM
I slightly remember conversations that gave some insight into this. Some of my recollection may be off, though.
In days gone by, persons in the pipeline were expected to get out 15 seconds of animation a day. Mind you, I'm speaking of places like Pixar and the like. Since I'm an old guy, I figure the tools, skills and experience have increased the required 15 seconds. So, maybe 30 seconds nowadays...?

My own suggestion on this would, though it sounds like a d'uh! moment, be the following:
Don't try to do it all in one sitting.
Break it down: legs first; arms next; hands reaching for something next, etc.
Remember, you can come back tomorrow and do more.

Animating takes time. It takes even more time if it's a new endeavor.

i would say a month for what you are suggesting and that's based on the idea that you won't have much of a life outside of this task.

CMT
01-05-2010, 01:35 PM
15 seconds of animation a day is pretty fast (comparing to my own abilities of course). But I did a decent walk cycle last night in about an hour after learning about the IKBoost tools from Larry's video I about a year ago. Nothing too elaborate, just something basic and nothing with too much character in it, but boy it was fun! It took a little less time than I thought it would.

But, yeah, I figured it would take quite a while for a 15 minute short. I even put in some time to learn more about the animation tools. I doubt I can be very fast until I get used to animating, but I was hoping to come in under 4 months of animating time once I got underway with the project. So that sounds somewhat doable.

littlewaves
01-05-2010, 02:00 PM
In days gone by, persons in the pipeline were expected to get out 15 seconds of animation a day. Mind you, I'm speaking of places like Pixar and the like. Since I'm an old guy, I figure the tools, skills and experience have increased the required 15 seconds. So, maybe 30 seconds nowadays...?

found this interview where it seems to say it's more like 3 seconds a week per animator at pixar
That's specifically character animation though and presumably lead character and not just background extras.

I expect if you're animating something less complex then you could churn a lot more out.

http://www.animationarena.com/working-for-pixar.html

all depends on how detailed you get I guess

KurtF
01-05-2010, 02:11 PM
In that same interview- the speaker states that another animator is working on his own personal short, and that it will probably take him TWO YEARS.

Also - The Passenger- a Lightwave project, took about 7 years to complete.

There's ways to speed things up, but they do take lots and lots of time.

littlewaves
01-05-2010, 02:18 PM
it's the old triangle rule (you can only ever have two of the three points)

1. Fast
2. Cheap
3. Good

Stunt Pixels
01-05-2010, 02:22 PM
No-one can really answer that for you. Character animation is a process of continual refinement. The blocking pass is basically the key poses timed out. Some stuff I see on TV looks like they just throw the blocking pass into spline mode and call it done. On the other hand, lead character animators at Pixar, do innumerable refinement passes, getting feedback the whole way through - hence the few seconds a week output.

It comes down to the quality you're happy with... But as a ballpark figure for TV quality animation, I'd say around 30 seconds a week....

Good luck!

UnCommonGrafx
01-05-2010, 02:32 PM
I thought it was a longer time for shorter amounts of completed time. Thanks for the correct, guys.
Animating is the ultimate in rendering and takes as much time. ha!

Dexter2999
01-05-2010, 02:37 PM
http://pigeonimpossible.com/

Check the blog and podcasts.

http://www.chrisj.com.au/thepassenger/

Also check interviews ans such here on this site.

Anything of quality appears to take quite some time.

CMT
01-05-2010, 03:46 PM
I appreciate the links and advice guys! I don't think our short will be anywhere as detailed or in depth as The Passenger or Pigeon Impossible (blown away by both). Think Veggie Tales or the like, only slightly more detailed....... and with limbs.

SplineGod
01-05-2010, 08:05 PM
Plan everything out precisely. The better planned and designed the project is upfront the less messing around youll do once you get into it. Once its well storyboarded pick a section and spend a
week or two actually animating. Either do it at a quality you intend to shoot for or do as much as you can in that particular timeframe. The lower the quality the more y ou can do.

Titus
01-05-2010, 08:16 PM
Jeff Gabor (http://www.jaganimations.com/jaganimationscom.html) spent a little more of a month to create just like ten seconds of animation for Ice Age 3.

I can animate 2-3 seconds a day. You need to pick a quality and style before starting to animate, there are styles like cutout that require less work.

CMT
01-05-2010, 09:15 PM
I feel we've got a good idea for a story. We've got one guy already working on storyboards, I'm concepting a couple characters right now and we've got a few others that will be doing model making, matte paintings, animatics, etc. when the time comes. But yeah, we do need to do some decision making and research a style we want to use. That's up in the air right now.

It's the actual animating part that none of us are too familiar with, except me with my limited knowledge. I'll need to do a lot of homework and practicing before I get into the meat of the work. I think if we storyboard the whole thing out, I can work on the simpler scene animations and things that are within my capabilities right now and try to learn more as I go to tackle the more complicated stuff. I don't expect a masterpiece by far, but I do want to try for a somewhat decent quality. I do expect to cut some corners here and there though.

Titus
01-05-2010, 09:43 PM
Planning is really important before starting animation. Find references or record yourself acting the scenes, draw some thumbs with the key poses.

If you plan ahead, the chances to redo the work decreases.

adamredwoods
01-05-2010, 11:32 PM
And learn to specialize. Have ONE person doing NOTHING but character animation.... this is the assembly-line tactic. Why do this? Over time they will get better and better....

Don't worry too much about doing massive rigs. It takes too much time. Sometimes, simple FK is good enough.
Rough it out first, then go back and do a second, third pass. Add bones when you need more depending on the shot.

This is what I would tell my animators.

CMT
01-06-2010, 08:17 AM
Thanks for the tips! I'll definitely keep all this in mind. Another thing I've been trying to figure out is what is the best setup for doing facial animation? Endomorphs with Motion Mixer, or small bones in the face, or a combination? Or even some other technique that I am not yet aware of? I remember seeing some vids a while back of what look like some type of handles (could have been bones maybe) which give control over parts of the face like eyebrows for better emoting of the characters. I'm not sure what they were though.

CMT
01-12-2010, 08:38 AM
I took a couple nights to set up and test out some facial animation setups. I found some good tutes on joystick rigs and endomorph creation. I think I got those down decently enough.

The question I have now is what is the best way to approach facial animation on a character? Should I do the majority of the facial animation in a front view before animating the body movements? Or should I do it all at the same time as animating the body with some type of camera view of the face? Or maybe there's an even better way. This could be a question of personal preference I guess, but maybe there's one best way of doing it in Lightwave, I dunno. Any tips regarding this would be appreciated.

cresshead
01-12-2010, 09:57 AM
Jeff Lew who animated/created the full feature killer bean forever on his own, could animate 2 to 3 seconds per hour per character but as he stated in the making of sections on the dvd this is unsustainable for long periods...you'd BURN OUT...you'd do it in 'crunch time' for a deadline say a couple of weeks away but you'd not do this day in day out for years on end...he also used mocap for his lipsync with markers around his mouth and then used a tracker to plot the movement onto a mouth model...same with head moves/turns all done with a lo cost camcorder and syntheyes plus maya.

in addition he also used motion capture files for walks/dances and any movements that a mo cap file could fill in for hand animation.

i'm in r n d for a character based project currently and i hope to use mocap for 90% or more of it re body movements
and also procedual character animation from c.a.t. and biped. Of course there will be need of some specific hand keyed posed
scenes as well.

re lipsync i'm still in r & d on that...either keep it basic, cheat alot with camera angles, add a lip sync plugin for my 3d app or do lipsync in 2d with textures from toon boom as that has a decent lip sync setup driven from audio wav files.

eye's will be motion captured with mouse/keyboard/joysticks to puppet the eye movements and blinks..same with head movements driven by a mo cap device like a mouse.

basically CHEAT as much as you can!

CMT
01-12-2010, 02:37 PM
Thanks, Cress. Any way I can cheat, I will. :) I was actually looking into mocap a little to help speed things up. I was particularly interested in Optitrack. My only worry with doing that is that you are locked into a realistic approach. The animation I will be working on is more cartoonish. There might be a way to implement mocap and still retain the animation style, but I still have to look more into it.

Oliver, we were thinking it was going to be television quality animation, so hopefully we can go through it a little faster than a feature movie. It won't be nearly as refined as something like Pixar. But we will cut as many corners as we can without trying to be too obvious about it. Reusing animation from different angles and on different stages, close ups, live action backgrounds, or even maybe one or two of the characters are telepathic, hehe. :) Yep, lots we can do to save some time.

cresshead
01-12-2010, 02:59 PM
killer bean forever is using toony characters with mocap...
all the dancing is mo cap, same with the lip sync and the head movements [tracked]
characters dying and falling to the ground is handled by ragdoll dynamics

see the trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4_7-lYjLEI

cresshead
01-12-2010, 03:13 PM
i'd also say go off n read or scan thru this thread
http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=2&t=800040

lwaddict
01-13-2010, 07:22 AM
Plan everything out precisely. The better planned and designed the project is upfront the less messing around youll do once you get into it. Once its well storyboarded pick a section and spend a
week or two actually animating. Either do it at a quality you intend to shoot for or do as much as you can in that particular timeframe. The lower the quality the more y ou can do.

Listen to this guy...
the more time you spend planning up front,
the less headache you'll have down the production road.

As to your original questions...
"it depends"
But if you plan it...
make sure you've got your ducks in a row (ie Models, textures, rigs, etc)...
the actual animation part shouldn't be too bad.

It's all about prep, prep, and prep.

Did I mention prep?