Topic: Smoother Animation

So I've been practicing with animating and I just can't seem to find a way for my animations to look smoother. So I created this thread so people like me can hopefully get some help on smoother animations. As I am suggesting pictures of frames in order (Ex.frames of you animating a mini figure's head turning frame by frame), I understand this might be a bit complicated, so do what you can do. So if you guys can please help, that would be kindly appreciated. Thank you mini/smile

Previously known as Gillcrafter

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Re: Smoother Animation

Some factors to consider: What frame rate are you animating in, the amount of changes you're making from one frame to the next, and the pacing of your sequence.

12 fps or 15 fps looks different from 24 fps or 30 fps.  You can achieve smoother movements by increasing your FPS, but only if the animation you do per frame is smooth.  Jumpy and inconsistent increments of changes makes 24 fps pointless.  Depending on the sequences, small changes are good, but not all sequences require small incremental changes, such as action sequences and fight scenes.

Some tools to consider: storyboards and x-sheets to planning out your sequence and onion skinning to align your animation.  Onion skinning allows you to see previous frames you took so you can see how much your animation has changed and it helps you create smoother movements.

https://i.imgur.com/4b9NnS3.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/GUIl0qk.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/ox64uld.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/v3iyhE5.png

Re: Smoother Animation

Honestly you can get smooth motions with 12fps,24fps,15fps and 30fps. It comes down to experience and practicing stopmotion. Something that also helps is watching well done brickfilms frame by frame. Which you can do in youtube with the , and . Sign on your keyboard. The , is back a frame and . Is forward a frame. There is head turning and a lot of other movements in other brickfilms that you can copy from with frame by frame. It took me years and years to just get okay animation and to get a feel for it. Honestly after practicing a lot you will get the feeling down and you will know how to animate things smoother. If you don't already know how to ease in and out, you probably should learn that too. Look up fancy pants ease in an ease out tutorial, he has some good stuff. I would link it but I'm my phone and don't know how, I'll link it later. I hope that made sense and helped.
here is the tutorial
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XrRJAiIepY

Last edited by BlackSmithFilms (October 11, 2016 (11:39am))

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Re: Smoother Animation

If you're familiar with post-production softwares such as After Effects, Final Cut Pro X or Premiere Pro, try frame-blending technique. Frame-blending is done by creating virtual frames between two frames; something like "Motion tween" in Flash and it's done by the software.

Here's an example picture:

https://documentation.apple.com/en/finalcutpro/usermanual/Art/L01/L0163_BlendedFrame.png

Re: Smoother Animation

Shahriar wrote:

If you're familiar with post-production softwares such as After Effects, Final Cut Pro X or Premiere Pro, try frame-blending technique. Frame-blending is done by creating virtual frames between two frames; something like "Motion tween" in Flash and it's done by the software.

Can this be done in Final Cut Pro 7? I never made the switch to X and that's currently how I'm processing my frames.

http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/minifig77/stills/aousbanner.png

Re: Smoother Animation

Frame blending is a short cut to better animation and honestly sometimes makes it look worse. Good animation will always be more respected then animation with frame blending. Also you will become a better animator by depending on your own skills, and not on what frame blending can do for you.

Real Love is Sacrifice, a choice to Love others more then yourself and to put their needs before yours.

Re: Smoother Animation

Ew no. Don't use frame blending. It just makes things look mushy and weird and pretty much horrible. I could link a hundred ruined films because of the results of frame blending.

Good animation comes with practice. Lots and lots of it. Even if you just animate tests for the animation challenge, you're still practicing and it's worth it. But don't just go through the same motions when practicing. Try to push yourself and do things that are way out there and new for you.

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Re: Smoother Animation

I have to disagree with rioforce on this one...

Personally, I think frame-blending can be a very useful tool in stop-motion. I think that the effect it gives to a sequence of frames almost replicates natural motion-blur without going into the complexities of go-motion animation.

And, several older brickfilms, either out of purpose or limits to encoding and compressing programs of the time, appear to have a somewhat blended-frame effect on their animation. The first time I noticed this was in Nathan Wells' Beast.

In the research that I've since done on that brickfilm, I'm pretty sure that its frame blending is a case of the latter cause. However, I once tried to replicate this in a walk-cycle test I did several years ago - which can be seen here. And, honestly, I like it. Stop motion can sometimes look too jolty, and, this certainly fixes it, even if it does seem to look a bit "mushy," as rio said.

The only big no-no you have to look out for when improving animation is changing frame rates. For example, if you're animating at 12 fps, and want a quicker animation to go by without looking jolty, you could half the length of your frames, essentially animating at 24 fps. - Something similar to this, as done by professional animators, is called animating "on 2's".

However, the same doesn't work the other way around. (Or, at least, will gain you a minor bit of backlash from those forum members that are really particular about frame rates) If you stretched each frame to about 6 fps, you'll end up with largely the same process I used on De Mortem. (A process that I'd been using along with The Login Productions for years, and only recently had been called out on)

Long story short - re-shoot if you must due to choppy-ness. Try and stay at a frame rate above 12, and ALWAYS keep to video standards. (So, 12 fps "on 2's" and 24 fps "on 1's" OR 15 fps "on 2's" and 30 fps "on 1's") Animating at 20 fps or 8 fps will NOT allign with current digital video standards, and some frames will either be dropped or blended automatically - neither of which look pretty.

Re: Smoother Animation

I'm gonna throw in my two cents here and say that I think that frame blending can be used properly, but it's just like any post effect in that if you slap cookie cutter blending on to the entire film then it has a good chance to make it look weird. It can be used properly, but it can also be used improperly.

That being said, I would suggest working on improving your animation without using frame blending - that way you're not taking shortcuts to smoother animation.

Something I would recommend is taking a few live action shots, or perhaps some cartoon exercises (if you want to try that style) and recreate them in a brickfilm. It'll give you a good feel for the style and fluid motion. mini/wink

Re: Smoother Animation

rioforce wrote:

Ew no. Don't use frame blending.

Re: Smoother Animation

I don't like frame bleeding.  It made my pre-HOO work look bad and I was having trouble changing Vegas rendering settings' when I was new at the software, and it frustrated me.  Now, my wife is insteresed in animating, but we're going to use a technique where the bleeding is more like a quick dissolve than interpolation of frames.  In other words, we're going to attempt a creative use of framing for a certain creative style.

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Re: Smoother Animation

The only times I've seen frame blending in a brickfilm that really added to the film overall is when it has been used as an effect for flashbacks, fainting, and the like. So I believe that frame blending can be a useful tool, but only when used sparingly, never for an entire video.

And to (try) to answer your question, the first thing I'd do would be to start animating at 12 or (preferably) 15 fps; If you don't at least use one of these framerates, it will be virtually impossible to make smooth brickflims. Second, I would definitely recommend watching FancyPants' tutorial called on easing in and out while animating (Rafael9522 posted the link above in post #6). In this useful tutorial, FancyPants not only shows you how to implement a helpful technique (with a frame by frame demonstration), but also shows some common mistakes to avoid. And finally: practice, practice, practice! It's the tried and true method of improvement. ;)

Good luck!

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Re: Smoother Animation

FeinsteinFilms wrote:

The only times I've seen frame blending in a brickfilm that really added to the film overall is when it has been used as an effect for flashbacks, fainting, and the like. So I believe that frame blending can be a useful tool, but only when used sparingly, never for an entire video.
Good luck!

A slow blend like that is called a "Dissolve".

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Re: Smoother Animation

So I'm getting a lot of mixed vibes about frame blending, so I'm confused if I should try it out or not. But if it is not recommended to use frame blending, I'll do what rioforce said and what others have said as to keep practicing. mini/smile

Previously known as Gillcrafter

"I'm not superstitious. But I am a little stitious."
                                                            -Michael Scott

Re: Smoother Animation

Gillcrafter wrote:

So I'm getting a lot of mixed vibes about frame blending, so I'm confused if I should try it out or not. But if it is not recommended to use frame blending, I'll do what rioforce said and what others have said as to keep practicing. mini/smile

I believe you are right, and the best solution is always more practice and more frames. You can always delete extra frames, but you can't insert new ones (very easily at least) so it's always better to take extra small adjustments just in case.  That being said, frame blending has to be useful  in at least some circumstances and I would be interested to see if anyone knows of any brickfilms that do an especially good job with it.

http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/minifig77/stills/aousbanner.png

Re: Smoother Animation

Not exactly Frame Blending, but it's an example of why relying on post-production effect doesn't always give you the result you want, is Protectors of the Earth by Joleo.  For the uninitiated, it may look very smooth and life-like movement, but if you look carefully, you can see frame blending--or rather After Effect's Pixel Motion--was used to generate the frames between frames to make it look smoother.  Some parts of Joleo's animation were smooth so it wasn't easy to catch the effect, some parts were choppier and those I notice because it causes distortion in the image.

Watch it here and use the frame-by-frame toggler to see how the effect causes unwanted distortions.

Frame Blending should be used as a last resort or if you know what you're doing with it.  Fast motions, don't use it.

https://i.imgur.com/4b9NnS3.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/GUIl0qk.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/ox64uld.pnghttps://i.imgur.com/v3iyhE5.png

Re: Smoother Animation

I would recommend against Frame Blending as well. It makes the edges look mushy and distorted. There is also no good reason to do it. To the motion blur like effect Dylan was referring, that is interlacing which is generally a sign of bad rendering settings. It's a default of a lot of editors back in the day. It has a purpose to save on file size. Back in the day you really cared about having small files since the internet was slow and online hosting was scarce. Now we don't have those limits and thus interlacing is frowned upon.
It took me years of practice to get my animation smoothish. I still feel like I can improve in that area. I found something that helped me was changing frame rate as needed. I new shoot on 24 on twos. Things like fast motions or camera movement I shoot at 24 fps while things that are slower or that look better with less frame I shoot on 12 fps. The 12 fps I just take two shots thus the on twos. The years of practicing comes from knowing wear to place everything in each frame so it looks smooth. framerates can make this easier but it doesn't make it smooth.

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Re: Smoother Animation

Geouug wrote:

...The best solution is always more practice and more frames. You can always delete extra frames, but you can't insert new ones (very easily at least) so it's always better to take extra small adjustments just in case.

^ This. Although, proper understanding of how things move in the real world, and a bit of "ease-in, ease-out" will save you a lot of headaches in editing.

Lechnology wrote:

Frame Blending should be used... if you know what you're doing with it.  Fast motions, don't use it.

I would recommend improving your animations first and foremost, as, frame blending should be treated like makeup. Too much is a bad thing, and you can only go so far to make a stuffed pig beautiful... Good animation is good animation. No post effect will make choppy animation smooth. However, frame blending, while obviously a matter of different tastes, isn't completely worthless.

Re: Smoother Animation

I think some of you are missing the point of all this, it's not just about having more frames. And blending may be useful for certain effects but otherwise it absolutely distracts from the beauty of fluidity. At the core, animation is all about timing, and spacing. Regardless what frame rate; ones at 12fps, 15fps, twos at 24fps or 30fps, or even ones at 60fps... It's simply a language that needs to be learned. I'd recommend "The Animator's Survival Kit" book by Richard Williams.

Last edited by VN (October 15, 2016 (05:29pm))

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Re: Smoother Animation

Once in a while I wrongly asses the number of frames I need for a motion, and the animation is too slow.  So I'll do that movement at 30 fps instead of my typical 15 fps.  It does lead to an awesomely smooth look.  One example where I use it is when Angela shouts, "BLAM! BLAM!", as she mimics firing a gun in Holding Our Own Episode 2.  You can also see it sometimes in episode 3, it happens when characters are done talking and putting their arm down, sometimes, among others.

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"None practice tolerance less frequently than those who most loudly preach it."