Animated Film Production: Shadowing and Color.

Quite often an audience member asks me:

– What software animates for you?

To which I respond by raising my both hands and pushing them into the person’s face.

– You don’t mean you animate by hand? – they keep asking, incredulous. – Drawing by drawing? It can’t be done!

For some strange reason people assume that a software can make a character dance, drink tea and talk. Even if you have an amazing software like Maya, you still need human hands and brain attached to it to blow life into a character.

My bet (and I lost only 50 per cent of my bets since age 5) is on Big Comeback of hand drawn animation. Won’t audiences soon get tired of Pixar sleek animation? After looking at Photoshopped beauty on magazine covers one is relieved to climb into bed with someone real, touching their wrinkled and cellulite skin. Watching perfection makes us think we can’t do it ourselves, while something imperfect inspires us. This is why stop motion is having a huge wave of popularity right now – it is imperfect and it is inspiring.

“Rocks In My Pockets” is a mixed media project that combines stop motion and drawn animation with the help of digital technology. In this Production Report  episode 7 you’ll see how we accent the handmade look while using digital tools.

The next and the last Production Episode will be on Compositing (After Effects!) and Editing. Stay tuned.

About rocksinmypocketsthemovie

I was born in Latvia, educated in Moscow, live in New York. I have made about 14 animated shorts so far.
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13 Responses to Animated Film Production: Shadowing and Color.

  1. JRow says:

    This is great. Thank you for sharing this video. Last year I made a one minute hand-drawn stop motion animation, no computer programs. It is an addictive form of art. William Kentridge is a big influence. I can’t wait to see more of your work 🙂

  2. Hello Signe, I am finding your blog so inspiring, it’s kind of hard sometimes to sit down every day at your desk and just work and get things finished – I’m also working on an animation at the moment, and so learning about you and your processes is so interesting and really inspires me to keep going and achieve amazing things, as you are doing! I’m really looking forward to seeing your compositing blog and how you use after effects. it is so nice to get a view into your world, and I very excited to see your finished film, love matthew

    • Thank you, Matthew, for your kindness! It is sometimes hard indeed to sit down at MY desk and do the work. No one but me really needs the film before it is finished (that’s the problem with the projects initiated by the creator rather than loaded with money producer), so it is easy to lose faith. It is very hard (at least for me) to suspend the Monster of Self Doubt for 4 long years of making the feature. With a short film, you just hold your breath, dive in and resurface at the other bank of the River. Making a feature is like crossing Atlantic.
      In any case, I am very happy to hear you are working on your film! Can’t wait to see it when it is done! When you plan on finishing it?

      • ohh, i even didn’t consider that yours is a feature length film, mine is only 8 minutes and still it not only takes up all the time I have, but also all the time in my head, but its a good thing, its so rewarding and even seeing test shoots come to life is amazing! I think it’ll be done before Christmas, I’ll certainly tell you! I think the monster of self doubt (as you call it, and I like that) is very hard to defeat, and is always there, but i guess we actually know deep down inside ourselves that we have already defeated it a long time ago, and no-one has actually been kind enough to tell it that yet, if we hadn’t we would be out doing much different jobs I think! But reading blogs by people like you is really one of the most inspiring things, and I thank you for taking so much time to show us the inside of your creativity

  3. Monica Laita says:

    Thank you for sharing this! Sooo inspiring knowing that other artists are sharing the same passion and mathods. I thought I should give up on planning working on any project like this as ‘out of fashion’, requiring too much time and manual efforts compared to what is workwise acceptable nowadays… Your project looks gorgeous too! I can’t wait to see it finished. I feel it is a luxury one can efford to endulge into as far as money/time/deadlines allow. The results will make justice though… Will keep posted to see the progression. Cheers xxx

    • Thank you, Monica! Yes, my methods are a bit old fashioned maybe (hand drawn!) but I always remember that fashion goes in circles – short skirts go out of fashion and then they come back. Around 1999 when everybody was going crazy about Flash, I made a point of not learning Flash – I hate how it looks and I hate working with tablets. Life is too short to do work you hate. That said – I am not wealthy…. Ha!

  4. Valu Vasconcelos says:

    Congratulations for your work. It’s really good to see old fashion technics coming back times to times.

  5. Franck says:

    I think you would gain time for color with the TVPaint animation software ! That is not the most world famous but it is designed to do that quickest than photoshop…

    • YES I know the TVPaint – Paul Fierlinger and Debra Solomon are big enthusiasts of TVPaint on this side of the Pond. I saw the tutorial, and it is impressive. There are a couple of things about TVPaint that makes me hesitate to run out and get it – like, I am not quite sure how it would work with drawings made on paper and if it would keep paper smudges and texture. One day I’ll figure it out.
      That said, haste and speed is not my priority in the production. I work comparatively fast (60 -80 drawings a day) and it is nice to take time to dwell on timing of each drawing or the look/color of it. As my father likes to say: – How far did the fast ones get where the slow ones can’t catch up?
      It is not the software that makes the film – it is the person. I see a lot of people obsessing on finding the right software but once they have it, they don’t make a film.
      If painting in Photoshop gives me a pleasure – why deprive myself from that pleasure?
      : )

  6. a.f.m. 'shipu' moniruzzaman says:

    this is very inspiring to hear that we still can think of hand drawn animation. I specially very much for hand drawn. I also have been trying with the tv paint and it works better than any other software for animation like flash, toonboom, etc. BUT I STILL think of hand drawn. You draw 60 to 80 drawings a day? Is that mean 60 to 80 frames? I’m jealous. I want to be fast like you.
    Thank you and waiting to see your film.

    • Shipu, it is always a confusion about what exactly are the 60 drawing. To me they are physical drawings, 60 separate pieces of ACME punched paper with characters drawn with the help of 4B pencil on each. Since I give each drawing 4 frames (not 1 or 2 frames like Disney, but 4 frames like a true independent animator who has limited time and means), 60 drawings add up to 240 frames, which is 10 seconds (I use 24 frames per second frame rate).
      I sometimes wonder if I am using the wrong lingo. It seems I say ‘drawings” and you say “frames” but to me they are not the same thing. Would it be that making animation directly in a software washes out the difference between the two? Like, do you really make one drawing/picture for each frame? I find it hard to believe in it.

  7. cherrycow says:

    Thanks for sharing this process, so good to see traditional animation at its best!

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