Skill Level Appropriate for all
- [Lecturer] I'd like you to know a little bit about some of the traditional terminology that's used in the industry, some of it is an anachronism from a time when the footage was footage (chuckles), when it was physically measured, so, some of the terms are still used, but you might not be sure exactly what that is. So, in the early period of film, when film was shot on film, there were 24 frames in a second and 16 frames or 35 millimeter film was about one foot, hence the term footage, which we still use.
So, we have traditionally trained animators, like myself, who will have transitioned into working on computers, and we're comfortable, you know, working with different frame rates, 24 frames or 30 frames a second are two of the most common, we have then the principle of animating on ones, twos and threes, and it was discovered fairly early on, and I think it was on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Disney original, where it was realized that you could, instead of having to animate 24 drawings for every second and having a nervous breakdown, you could shoot 12 and then you could shoot one frame and hold it for two.
So, you would draw 12 frames, and then your first drawing, or 12 drawings, your first drawing on the camera stand and go click, click, put your second, click, click, your third, click, click. Hence, this was on twos. So you would still have to animate on ones for very fast actions and for pans and camera moves, but most of the film could be done on twos and it never really caught on in the early period in the West, but in the Japanese animation it's common to see animation on threes and that will give you 24 frames a second a virtual speed of eight frames a second, on twos, 12 frames a second, and on ones, 24 frames a second.
So that's when you hear an animator talking about it's animating on ones or it's on twos or it's on threes, that's what they're referring to. So if you're wondering what that looks like, here's what it looks like, so, the ball on the top is on ones, in the middle, on twos, bottom is on threes. So you're getting that kind of anime effect on the bottom roll, and it's something that your eye just gets used to, I mean if you start watching a movie on threes you'll get used to it after a while and, you know, it looks fine, but plenty of people are very happy to watch lots of cartoons on that, and some of the TV shows that were done in the 80s really began to go even further than that, even too far, any further than, any frame rate lower than eight frames a second, you're in dangerous territory.
Now, you might have heard the expression, a dope sheet, also called an exposure sheet or an X-sheet, and these were sheets of paper that the animator in the traditional period had to explain his scene on, so that when the scene went to the next person in the production pipeline they wouldn't just have a stack of 400 sheets of paper, they would actually know where they went. So, if you look at this, this is a typical X-sheet, the production's called John and Jane, this is sequence three, scene 20, sheet one of two, so there's two of these sheets, the scene starts here, sometimes people will write notes and other commentary in here where needed, the action, Joe says, "Why did you let the dog out?" The dialog is broken down on the track read here, by phonemes, why do you let the, et cetera.
We have our frame numbers, so the camera person and, you know, people in the technical departments can be completely sure what frame they're on. The scenes go from the back, from bottom to top, from right to left, so the background level will be held here, and then A 01 is the Joe level and then you can see the right frame number, he's on twos, one, three, five, seven, nine, 11, 13, and so on, Jane is held for that many frames, then maybe she has an eye blink or something and then she's held again and starts moving, and the dog starts, has a tail wagging cycle, so he's cycling one through 11, one through 11, and so on, and this is an overlay, that's the table.
So, there's a pan and that can be started here and it's just like they sketched in here, but technical departments might come along and start putting in pan numbers and all kinds of scary technical stuff. So, what happened to these? And I'll explain what happened to these, programmers happened to these and they came along with their software and they said, "This is no good, "let's turn it 90 degrees to the left, "and then we'll get rid off all the space there, "and then we'll," also notice that they got rid of the phonemes, there's no place for that, so that gets replaced by the waveform, and then they went one further and turned all of the frame numbers into dots, so you can't tell what everything is, and then they squashed them down to fill more, which is good, so you can (chuckles) at least have more layers, and then the names get moved to here and you have your frame numbers, which oftentimes you can't fit in, because, you know, they just, fonts are too small.
And so that is what happened to the X-sheet. So, many of us had a very hard time when this happened but we've kind of gotten used to it now. I do miss the fact that it was easier to see exactly what these were, but you kind of find little tricks to memorize what key frames are where. So, anyway, that is the evolution or devolution of the X-sheet into your timeline. So, you might have seen these floating around, it's a field guide, and we used to animate on 12-field and 16-field, meaning 12 inches or 16 inches and extremely technical and not a lot of fun to work with, but you would have different cutoffs for, you know, different formats, some animators would work on nine fields and I won't bore you anymore with that, suffice to say we don't really have to worry about this anymore, because it's all done ad hoc, more or less, in various computer programs, but we do have the holdover of watching out for safe areas, which is what, you know, many of these field guides would help you find, the point where you were, you had to draw at least to here or to the 10-field line or the 11 or the 12.
So, we still have to worry about things like safe area and your aspect ratio, but in terms of plotting like, detailed technical moves, no, those days are, at least for most of us, I think, in the rear-view mirror. So, the real trouble seems we used to have to deal with were pan scenes, and here you see a cartoon of myself at an animation desk and you have the circular board with the circular peg holes and pan scenes will be usually, have different peg holes, the round holes will be A, B, C, D, E and F, and you'd see some poor unlucky devil with a pan scene that went to J or K once and they weren't happy about it.
The very first scene I was given to work on was a horrible pan scene on top peg, so they were actually, the paper was mounted on the top pegs and it was a (chuckles) cruel thing to inflict on a newbie. So, be thankful if you don't work on paper anymore, that you don't have to deal with this. And there's a picture of me in 1991 or '92 on one of the Don Bluth movies, I think it was Pebble and the Penguin, and you can see the 16 field animation disk, so, again, a very expensive piece of equipment that we don't have to (chuckles), most of us don't have to deal with, and there you can see, hanging behind me, a very crude cardboard field guide with a cutoff, so I could see very quickly if I was, you know, animating within the right field.
So we would draw on paper and the paper would be punched, so you'd have the round peg hole and the rectangular peg holes, and you still see artifacts, that some of us occasionally used in Harmony, the 2D animation program, they still occasionally use motifs like the peg holes, so, which is why I want to explain some of this material to you, because sometimes these anachronisms do come back, and the peg holes would, if you were moving the paper on and off the pegs, the holes will stretch, so you will put little stickers, reinforcements on them and then you'd do your drawing.
So you do drawing number one, your first bouncing ball drawing, with the timing chart on the top right of the drawing, and, as you can see here, we're slowing out of the number one into frame 11. That's our second drawing now, and that's 11 with the next timing chart, to the next, or third key frame, and on the bottom you would draw the sequence scene number, and again the frame number here. So you would have your frame number here and here. So, you'd have different drawings, you'd have stacks of these and long scenes will be pretty heavy, you know, you could, very long scenes were quite the thing, real bookends.
So, that was the general process of laying out hand-drawn animation on paper and the process of sticking it on drawing boards. So, in the next movie we'll go into a little more detail on this.