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Art Update 13: Ask the Animation Team Anything!

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Dear Backers,

We have given you so few animation updates. Well guess what. We are terribly ashamed, that we haven't been keeping you constantly updated with our work!

I wish I could just spill my guts about how the whole thing has been, beyond what you've been able to see in our documentary episodes! But due to t he short amount of time I have while my cut scene is exporting, it may end up sounding like pure gibberish.

So what can I tell you? Well, right now we are animating as fast as we possibly can to bring you Broken Age with as much animation goodness as possible! We have a ton of work to do, more than I ever have this close to shipping! But that is OK, the only reason we have so much work to do, is because we want the work we do to be spectacular! So we are really giving it our all. Every thing we can wring out of this washcloth, we are gonna!

Are there any questions that any of you would like to ask? Are there any things you would specifically like to know? We would love to field questions!

In the mean time, I can leave you with only this. I hope you enjoy.

unnamed.gif

PS AMA!!!!

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haha I'm still laughing at that gif... :D

Q: Did you take inspiration from Adventure Time when animating the dudes on the train in Shay's world? The arms seem similar... :)

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How have you enjoyed working with the external animation team? From the last episode it looked like it was going ok but that was a few months ago, I think. Did everything turn out ok? Any hiccups?

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A: Not really, wiggly arms have been around forever, but they are awesome on that show for sure.

haha I'm still laughing at that gif... :D

Q: Did you take inspiration from Adventure Time when animating the dudes on the train in Shay's world? The arms seem similar... :)

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Everything is great and I'm not kidding, those guys are awesome to work with. Very talented group at Super Genius.

How have you enjoyed working with the external animation team? From the last episode it looked like it was going ok but that was a few months ago, I think. Did everything turn out ok? Any hiccups?

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An AMA - awesome!

How is the workload scheduled - seconds of final animation per day / week? What rough output rate are you guys hitting ?

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Another question! Hope you don't mind... :)

Q. What do you suggest is a good starting point for beginning animation? Learning to draw? Flash?

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How have you enjoyed working with the external animation team? From the last episode it looked like it was going ok but that was a few months ago, I think. Did everything turn out ok? Any hiccups?

The animation team that were working with is called http://supergenius-studio.com/ And I couldn't recommend them enough. Check out their site! They have had the opportunity to work on some great games!

This is my first time working hand in hand with an external animation team. I was a little skeptical about it at first, but right after we got their first animation delivery, I was sold.

I spend a lot of my day chatting with Alex Yao, the animation director on the project over there. He is obviously as into animation as any of us are, and really fun to work with.

The hardest part, is making sure we have enough work to give them! You have to take a huge chunk of the game, and catalog it and then send it over. Then Alex will review it and let me know if its just the right amount of work, or if the porridge is too hot or too cold.

If its just right, then we sign a contract for the month and week by week he sends me a bunch of animation and we'll review it over here. If its all approved, they move onto the next batch, chipping away at the huge list.

We were so busy implementing the game when we started working with them and at the time we hadn't had the opportunity to do any final animation! So one of the first final polished animations that I saw in the game was from them! I was sold right away! Seeing the lip sync, and the fingers and toes all animated for every character, really made me smile.

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Another question! Hope you don't mind... :)

Q. What do you suggest is a good starting point for beginning animation? Learning to draw? Flash?

I would try downloading a small app on your iPad, if you have one. The Animation desk is a good one! https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/animation-desk-for-ipad/id409124087

It wont really get you making stuff for games or anything like that, but it will get you animating simple drawings quickly!

The next thing to do would be to read http://www.amazon.com/The-Animators-Survival-Richard-Williams/dp/0571202284/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386809082&sr=8-1&keywords=the+animators+survival+kid

Try playing around with the simple animation tests using The Animation Desk, or another program of your liking.

Then, start to fall in love with animation.

If your interested in gameplay, I always think that the theories of animation translate directly to the theories of good gameplay and play control. So if Design is your end goal all this stuff will always be handy! Even if you're a programmer! :)

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Can you make more sweet animated gifs of other Broken Age team members??!?!

?!?

Smiles

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Are philosophical questions allowed?:-)

What is good animation? Expecially when it comes to a limited Budget.

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Hey animators! I am an animator, too, and have some animation-related questions. :)

First of all, the character rigs look really neat. I really like the painterly art style and facial expressions. Has it been tricky to hit any poses with the way they're set up? What's been the most difficult part of animating on this project?

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What tips can you give to make good animation fast?

It looks like you're hitting keyposes quickly with some offset in the keys to give simple overlap and settle.

Do you have a library of pre-defined poses?

Are the rigs similar enough that you can re-use the cycles from one character to another?

Thanks

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When you're doing a project that has two different animation teams, internal and external, working on the project, what steps do you take to make sure that the animations are all playing to the same tune? It seems like there is the potential there to end up with animations that are in some way noticeably different.

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I am a university student that is looking to go into game design or writing, but I want to start out by learning animation and/or programming so that I can hopefully progress into game design and writing once I have some experience in the games industry either animating, programming, or being a part of a large writing team if I can find a job. Would you say this is a good way to get into the games industry, or is another path better such as going directly into game design or starting off as a game tester? Or would an internship be the best way to start out in the games industry? What do companies look for when they are hiring interns for animation, anyway? Or working on an indie project or working on my portfolio material first be a better approach?

If you have any advice or know of any good videos or books that further explain these subject I would eternally appreciate it! Thanks so much for answering questions!

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Can you make more sweet animated gifs of other Broken Age team members??!?!

?!?

Smiles

oh yeah! As soon as I finish doing the actual animation for the game of course, I have some very solid plans to make some new Broken Age Gif avatars for you guys!

Oh! lots of good new questions! I will get to these tonight! :)

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Would you say this is a good way to get into the games industry, or is another path better such as going directly into game design or starting off as a game tester? Or would an internship be the best way to start out in the games industry? What do companies look for when they are hiring interns for animation, anyway? Or working on an indie project or working on my portfolio material first be a better approach?

If you have any advice or know of any good videos or books that further explain these subject I would eternally appreciate it! Thanks so much for answering questions!

I second this notion! I completed my studies 4-5 years ago with a submajor in animation. To be honest all my animation courses were the best part of my degree. The problem is that I haven't animated nor drawn anything since that point (after that 'Thorak' alpha/demo I mentioned in another thread) yet I'm keen to get back into it when I can find the time. Also, great call with The Animators' Survival Guide! It's a fantastic read and a must-have for any animator.

To add my own question, how does one keep motivated not only to start an animation project but throughout the project as well?

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Who's animating the Windsock Guy from Costume Quest's cameo in Broken Age (he's totally having one, right?)?

More seriously, I'd be interested to hear more about the toolsets you're working with for Broken Age and how they've differed from those used for previous Buddha games. It'd be nice to hear about the ways that the animation team give input into the development of the tools you've been using and how you go about planning/structuring your workflows in cases like this where the the stuff you're using may not be mature or even exist to begin with.

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Ah, so many things to ask. Let's see, hmmm.

I remember in one of the earlier episodes Lee was talking about how you'd have to use traditional animation for the Monster because the rig didn't have enough joints to make it look smooth, how did you resolved that problem?

What are the numbers of frames you tend to use for each gesture, and what is the frame rate for your cutscenes? I'm also interested in the tricks you use to get minimal animation looking smooth, since I know games have to budget for both time and memory.

Can you tell that this is the part I am most interested in along with the art direction because it is. If I think of more questions later I'll jump in again, but mostly I just have a bunch of exclamation marks jumping around in my head and no actual questions. Animators! On actual games!! Answering questions!!!! And so forth.

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Aaaahh I've been waiting and hoping for this day (and the art time AMA *winks*) to come. Here are some of my questions:

What is your work flow? As in how do you approach an animation, especially at the start. Do you guys focus on each body part every step along the way, or do you block all of them out and pay attention to one at a time later?

Thanks for doing this guys, super excited to read through all of the answers!

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How have you enjoyed working with the external animation team? From the last episode it looked like it was going ok but that was a few months ago, I think. Did everything turn out ok? Any hiccups?

The animation team that were working with is called http://supergenius-studio.com/ And I couldn't recommend them enough. Check out their site! They have had the opportunity to work on some great games!

This is my first time working hand in hand with an external animation team. I was a little skeptical about it at first, but right after we got their first animation delivery, I was sold.

I spend a lot of my day chatting with Alex Yao, the animation director on the project over there. He is obviously as into animation as any of us are, and really fun to work with.

The hardest part, is making sure we have enough work to give them! You have to take a huge chunk of the game, and catalog it and then send it over. Then Alex will review it and let me know if its just the right amount of work, or if the porridge is too hot or too cold.

If its just right, then we sign a contract for the month and week by week he sends me a bunch of animation and we'll review it over here. If its all approved, they move onto the next batch, chipping away at the huge list.

We were so busy implementing the game when we started working with them and at the time we hadn't had the opportunity to do any final animation! So one of the first final polished animations that I saw in the game was from them! I was sold right away! Seeing the lip sync, and the fingers and toes all animated for every character, really made me smile.

I had the same question in mind! Given your answer, how do you 'split' the work? Would you, like, give them an entire scene/area to animate or you only give them work on a per-charachter basis? In the same game chunk (e.g. the Cloud Colony) there may be work from both you and SuperGenius?

Thanks!

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Another question! Hope you don't mind... :)

Q. What do you suggest is a good starting point for beginning animation? Learning to draw? Flash?

I would try downloading a small app on your iPad, if you have one. The Animation desk is a good one! https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/animation-desk-for-ipad/id409124087

It wont really get you making stuff for games or anything like that, but it will get you animating simple drawings quickly!

The next thing to do would be to read http://www.amazon.com/The-Animators-Survival-Richard-Williams/dp/0571202284/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386809082&sr=8-1&keywords=the+animators+survival+kid

Try playing around with the simple animation tests using The Animation Desk, or another program of your liking.

Then, start to fall in love with animation.

If your interested in gameplay, I always think that the theories of animation translate directly to the theories of good gameplay and play control. So if Design is your end goal all this stuff will always be handy! Even if you're a programmer! :)

Richard Williams also transformed a series of lectures into "The Animator Survival Kit DVD Series" , very recommended. !

Ohhh ... also "The Animator's Workbook" by Tony White is an excellent source of Animation Education source ...

FInally there is this gestures Animation curse by Disney Veteran Walt Stanchfield wich is really great !!!!

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What games by other developers in the last five or so years have had the best/your favorite animation?

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I would like to ask a question, but I'm too busy watching the gif you posted. mesmerizing. If I keep looking will it show something new at some point? :)

Oh, wait that was a question.

Anyway, I'll think of a better question after my brain stops melting.

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Another question! Hope you don't mind... :)

Q. What do you suggest is a good starting point for beginning animation? Learning to draw? Flash?

I would try downloading a small app on your iPad, if you have one. The Animation desk is a good one! https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/animation-desk-for-ipad/id409124087

It wont really get you making stuff for games or anything like that, but it will get you animating simple drawings quickly!

The next thing to do would be to read http://www.amazon.com/The-Animators-Survival-Richard-Williams/dp/0571202284/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386809082&sr=8-1&keywords=the+animators+survival+kid

Try playing around with the simple animation tests using The Animation Desk, or another program of your liking.

Then, start to fall in love with animation.

If your interested in gameplay, I always think that the theories of animation translate directly to the theories of good gameplay and play control. So if Design is your end goal all this stuff will always be handy! Even if you're a programmer! :)

Richard Williams also transformed a series of lectures into "The Animator Survival Kit DVD Series" , very recommended. !

Ohhh ... also "The Animator's Workbook" by Tony White is an excellent source of Animation Education source ...

FInally there is this gestures Animation curse by Disney Veteran Walt Stanchfield wich is really great !!!!

All great references! I personally think Richard William's book is the most concise starting point for any animator, and is a very quick read with a lot of nice exercises, but if you can afford his video set, it is well worth it!

Also, Wayne Gilbert's "Simplified Drawing for Planning Animation" is a great guide for understanding how simple shapes can be very effective in animation. There is also the quintessential "Illusion of Life" which is a great read and introduction to the 12 Principles of Animation.

And finally, this is going to sound like a shameless plug, but I promise I don't get any kickbacks for this: I teach at Animation Mentor and it is a really accessible way to learn animation when and if you decide to take it to a more professional level. There are several other online animation schools as well. I like that format because it kind of cuts out the "fat" of having to take other classes at a traditional college or university. I really wish it was around when I started learning animation!

That said, if you're already enrolled in college classes, do as Mr. T says and "Don't be a fool and stay in school!" :) Regular art school can be a great way of honing other skills outside of animation and I've always found that animators who have a more rounded knowledge of other disciplines do far better overall, especially working in games. A lot of my students at Animation Mentor have gone through art school and know they want to sharpen their animation skills. The bottom line; this is a great time to learn animation because there are a ton of very accessible tools and resources out there!

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Would you say this is a good way to get into the games industry, or is another path better such as going directly into game design or starting off as a game tester? Or would an internship be the best way to start out in the games industry? What do companies look for when they are hiring interns for animation, anyway? Or working on an indie project or working on my portfolio material first be a better approach?

If you have any advice or know of any good videos or books that further explain these subject I would eternally appreciate it! Thanks so much for answering questions!

I second this notion! I completed my studies 4-5 years ago with a submajor in animation. To be honest all my animation courses were the best part of my degree. The problem is that I haven't animated nor drawn anything since that point (after that 'Thorak' alpha/demo I mentioned in another thread) yet I'm keen to get back into it when I can find the time. Also, great call with The Animators' Survival Guide! It's a fantastic read and a must-have for any animator.

To add my own question, how does one keep motivated not only to start an animation project but throughout the project as well?

Ok gonna try to get through some questions today! This response is about getting into the business, which is something that is very serious and takes a lot of work! so I'm going to give you a big answer! :)

The methods getting you into video game design or development come in all shapes or sizes. Really the best trick is to figure out what you are interested in the most, and get good at it. Find what you have a natural knack for, and hone that skill.

I think that right now game development is really at a steep part of a growing graph (if that makes any sense). Meaning that what you see now is just the beginning of a really rapid climb in creativity and accessibility!

If you want to get into game development, primarily anything other that art specifics (animation, illustration, 3D modeling, or lighting etc) I would suggest downloading some of the many new usable game development tools, like game maker, or unity, or even game salad.

Dig into tutorials and online communities and try to teach yourself the basics of implementation and start making small (SMALL!!) games! Try to visualize the (small) game from start to finish. Then have fun and build it! Focus on your interests, if its writing, learn how to make adventure games, if its gameplay make platformers and side scrollers, if its exploration think about the environment. Always work with what you love! During your years as a student, its the only time you have complete control of what your working on!

There are so many people learning programming, even in elementary school these days! There's also so many new easy to use (often free) game development tools and so many creative people out there that there is a really huge future for this industry!

Also, Maya has student versions that you can download. This is the program most studios use as thier animation software. Its clunky, its anoying, and i have many problems with it (because I'm a grumpy kind of guy when it comes to robots) but if you're interested in 3D animation, learning it is a must! And it really is the best tool for the job right now.

Flash is a really great program to learn if you're interested in games and 2D animation.

If animation is your thing, its time to start animating, like CRAZY. Eat sleep breathe animation, animation is so many things at once. Its how something feels, its how something moves, its how something looks. So it takes a lot of concentration! and study!

Here is a picture of Milt Kahl, being crazy while also being a great animator! Breaking his brain, trying to make all that stuff work together.

kit03.jpg

Art schools are great, but so many of them are missing the structure that you need to really get what you pay for. So make sure you really look into their programs!

We get a lot of interns from http://www.animwork.dk/en/ which from my experience is an amazing school. There are great ones in the US too, Cal Arts, Ringling, Animation Mentor, to name a few.

What your looking for when your trying to find a school with an animation program that has you cooperatively work on a film with other students, each year. You want a school that has students ship short films that look great!

If you don't have the opportunity to attend a school that does, then you should think about starting 'clubs' with other students, work on a film every 8 months, each with a different role. Or start planning your own films. Never forget, to think smaller than you're already thinking! Small finished work, is better than epic wonderful and long, unfinished work.

You want to have a strong portfolio and the best way to do that is have a webpage with animation and game projects on it. Even if your an animator, you should have an understanding of games! So hopefully you even just have experimental games made in something really simple like game salad, so we can see what your interests are!

There is a lot to it, but we have a lot of animation to do, so I have to get back to work! I hope this helps!

TLDR: Find a school that has a history and a pipeline for having you work on projects cooperatively. Figure out what you have a knack for and be the best in the world at it. Make small games and animations!

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I'm not smart enough to think of an animation question that is good that hasn't been asked already, so I'll resort to my back up question for stuff like this:

If you could be any kind of tree, what tree would you be and why?

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