Animation tools : LUSENET : Aeon Flux : One Thread

Peter, if you would care to answer this I would love to hear it. Recently I have been reading one of the trade papers, Animation World, by name, and they suggest products for animation, Flashzone in particular, (and I really do not know if you are prohibited to recommend products, I do not intend to place you in an awkward position, here) how are these products? Can they be used to produce animation of any real quality? I am thinking of looking into this, for my own amusement, I am sure it would give me a better appreciation of this field. Not thinking I'm the next Hanna/Barb e, ha ha. I'm aware of the difficulty of any art field, as I worked in the past in advertising and also for galleries, that's why I became an RN, (I have talent, believe me, but I couldn't take the pressure, you have to be tough, and talented and resourceful, I'm not). So my question is: Do you think computer software for animation will ever equal cels? Can they at all produce any finer art? I'd love to hear your opinions on this burgeoning business.

-- Barb e (, August 21, 2000


Great question, I would love to hear a lot more on this topic. How can amateur/part-time/aspiring animators really make the most of the time they have to animate. What is the most efficient technique or computer software etc...?

While we are on a different I was wondering if Peter could answer 1 more question. I recently obtained 2 cels. Both from the episode 'A last time for everything'. One is 14" x 10.5" and the other 10.5" x 9", the smaller cel has no signs of being cropped. Is it usual for the dimensions of cel used in 1 an episode to change?

-- William (, August 21, 2000.

William, about the cels; what's the artwork depicting? Can I view them?

-- Barb e (, August 22, 2000.

The larger cel is of Aeon when she is in the tunnel under Trevors tower, it is actually 2 cels, her face and a separate cel for the mouth. The smaller cel is of her when she is about to die in Trevors arms at the end. The last 1 can be viewed at my site (the other will be uploaded as soon as I scan it) Hopefully really soon.

-- William (, August 22, 2000.

Barb, I personally have not used any animation programs and so am unable to make recommendations. On the recent commercials I've directed, I've incorporated computer animated elements, but these tasks are handled by computer animators on my crew. I learned my craft over twenty years ago; drawing my animation by hand is the simplest and most satisfying method I know. Using computers to manipulate figures on a screen allows one to achieve complex effects and a sense of dimensionality which are hard to get by animating drawings. They are different tools which offer different results. I don't think it's meaningful to make comparisons of artistic merit based solely on the basis of which method is used. Is electronic music better than acoustical? It depends on the musician. Is a novel written using a word processor better than one written with a crowquill? Well the same applies to animation. I think highly of some of the work done at Pixar, especially A Bug's Life. Other computer animation I rate highly are the films of Yoichiro Kawaguchi and Chris Landreth. On the other hand, a lot of cel animation (most of it, really) I find useless: Tenchi Muyo, Don Bluth films, the animated Batman....

-- Peter Chung (, August 23, 2000.

William, the size of the cels used for a particular scene is determined by the content of the scene being depicted, and in particular by the camera movement involved, if any. In general, for static scenes, the cel size is uniform. Sometimes, when a high degree of detail is sought, larger cels will be used to make the drawing of intricate lines easier. When a scene involves pans, trucks (animation term for zooms), or tilts, the cel must be large enough to allow the artwork to be moved under the camera without the edge visible in the frame. The Japanese use a 9 field (9 in. wide) as their standard size while U.S. animators prefer a larger 12 field size (12 in. wide). More significantly, the Japanese use paper that is pegged for registration at the top, while American animators use bottom pegs. This is one of the rather arcane technical details which account for the different "feel" of Japanese animation to the viewer. The Japanese approach animation in a more analytical way which emphasizes drawing. Using bottom pegs allows the animator to flip between poses easily; this is reflected in the emphasis on flow that we see in American animation.

-- Peter Chung (, August 23, 2000.

I realize that that last post might be more confusing than informative. Please don't ask me to elucidate. This stuff is hard to convey unless you actually try to do it. I also find talk about animation technique very boring. Sorry, but too often it's all that animators end up talking about, so I try not to.

-- Peter Chung (, August 23, 2000.

Peter, you are never boring, personally I think you are the most interesting guy alive. Thanks for the info, will take time for me to digest it, as a new art form this is fascinating, but somehow I find it comforting to know your animation is done by your own hands.

-- Barb e (, August 23, 2000.

One of the things I find personally appealing about hand-drawn animation as opposed to other forms is the more direct transferral of a mental image. What I love about drawing is not the planned, technical aspect or the measured composition (which are necessary in animation nonetheless), but the "instinctive line" that flows out of my hand at certain moments. I think that somehow, this media allows for the "pure" intention to come through in the work. I can feel my brain shut off as my hand works on its own, possibly bypassing preconcieved notions in my head to come through untainted. Or, so I like to think, anyway.

-- Matthew Rebholz (, August 23, 2000.

I would most likely say that the american emphasis on flow doesn't do much for me. I like animation where nothing happens. Not nothing but the camera moves and maybe only 1, or 2 frames alternate. If you watch alot of animated stuff you know what I mean. I would say that I prefer hand drawn just for the fact that the animator can get away with certain perspectives that are artistic but nor realistic. I can't think of an example of this.

-- NAdar D. RIchards (, August 23, 2000.

I just thought of an example. In "A Last Time For Everthing" Aeon and Scaphandra, both jump, or swing or whatever through that skinny veiwing window for the gaurd. In a computer anmiation scene you would have to expand the window ruining the effect of these tiny insect like women, filtering through a seemingly unpassable opening. I think that it is very interesting that Peter Chung comes on these posts. Sorta humanizes the name at the end of the credits! ya know!

-- NAdar D. Richards (, August 23, 2000.

Or how about that bit at the end of Thanatophobia, when Aeon throws Sybil's box out the window? The hand-drawn perspectives shift and capture the entire motion in one long shot, and it looks like Aeon's arm lengthens freakishly... beautiful!

-- Charles Martin (, August 23, 2000.

Yeah, but surely one could do the same sort of surreal bending of physical laws using other mediums. Still, I suppose hand-drawn stuff might be the easier one to do it in, as computer and stop-motion animation seem more grounded in physics somehow.

-- Matthew Rebholz (, August 23, 2000.

Thank you Peter for clarifying that info. on the cels for me. I had heard about the difference between the Japanese and US systems and I completely forgot about the few long anime 'pan' cels I have seen that are well over 14" long. I have read a bit about the creation of hand-drawn animation so I could follow it for most of the way.

I agree with Matthew about the expressive nature of drawing. The pen is still the easiest and swiftest form of direct communication. Computers rely on the ability of the users knowledge of the software. A pen just requires paper. Of course, in either medium you need artisitic ability.

-- William (, August 24, 2000.

From what little I've done with computer animation programs, what I've decided is that it's almost not worth the effort for the kind of expressive filmmaking I'd like to dabble in. I can make a quick sketch in seconds and it would reflect exactly how my mind was at the moment it was drawn, whatever emotion I was feeling, but with computer animation, there is so much planning involved that it almost takes out the expressiveness factor in my book. But, it recovers a little in that the storyboards and preliminary character designs are probably hand-drawn in most cases.

-- Matthew Rebholz (, August 24, 2000.

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