Thursday, October 28, 2010

Animation 101: Importance of Thumbnails..

Animation takes planning.. it's not something you can just throw yourself into and expect anything to work. I'm often frustrated when my students get ahead of themselves and just start vomiting lines everywhere, and then act disappointed when it doesn't move like they wanted it to.Do yourself a favor, get off the computer, open your sketchbook and PLAN your action. Every hour spent planning will save you twice that time animating. Animating is difficult and takes some patience.. you need to come to terms with this difficulty and start from there. Below is a page from my sketchbook dated March 1999, from when I was working on my first film "DRINK", (note the sketches on the top from MTV's Downtown, the show I was working on at that time). I found this the other day, and my first thought was that I had "over thought" that scene.. but being that I was a VERY beginner animator, I think I did exactly the right thing. I was so worried back then about whether I could actually do it, that I planned everything out way ahead of time... I even showed my thumbnails to experienced animators that I was working with at MTV to get feedback on design and timing. I remember that I showed some thumbnails to animator Eugene Salandra (he was the best animator at MTV).. he looked at it and paused.. and said.. "this might work. Are YOU going to animate it?" Below: more sketches from "PUPPET"


  1. I've realized this also creates a sort of embedded "memory" of what you're trying to accomplish, so when you actually start animating your lines and forms and action seem to come out much easier. It's why I also never hesitate to throw out whole chunks of a scene (or the WHOLE scene) if nothing's working and start all over again fresh. It actually comes back to you easier than re-working animation you never liked in the first place. So many others are hesitant to chuck all that hard work, but all it does is slow them down (and frustrate the hell out of me if I'm directing them!).

  2. hahaha "this might work. Are YOU going to animate it?"... that just made me feel all warm

  3. Thank you!

    I have an idea of how to start..