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Filmmaking versus Animation

Posted By Kelleytoons Last Year
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Kelleytoons
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Folks,

I thought I'd start a thread here about something I think is more important than all the discussions ever hosted here -- the differences between making a film/video/movie versus making animation.

All of us here are animators, but few have actually made a complete film, one not only which a story is told but is told in such a way that is compelling and interesting for folks to see time and time again.  Partly that's because it's easy to get caught up in the mechanics of actually animating, but mostly because it's just damn hard to create such a piece of art.  Folks in Hollywood and elsewhere get paid big bucks and most of them can't do it fairly well.

Anyway, here's one video that talks about editing, so very important in telling your story, and how you can make yours better.  There are many more out there, and I would hope people might want to share their own thoughts, experiences and ideas on how we can improve our storytelling process.  The next time you animate something, remember it's not how it looks, but how it communicates.






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Thank you KT - Well, as a talent/producer/director/camera operator/editor/toilet washer in the television and film industry for nearly 30 years, (now retired & giving my experience to "The Autism Channel" as stage manager, I feel I can make a solid comment here.
   First, if you haven't done the day-2-day 'grind' in the TV or film industry, you may not have all the experience or tools in your bag of tricks to successfully tell a story from beginning to end in the 3 phases of a production. Having done every job (EXCEPT sales -thievery - and marketing - bullshit artistry) in the media business and being an artist & storyteller, animation is a perfect vehicle for me. With animation as a vehicle for my art & writing, I have all the gear, sets, actors, props and possibilities I can imagine, and few, if not any of the headaches associated with working (& playing well with others) in the industry. I have even sold all my physical gear. 
   Next, I feel that it is important to point out that even 30 years of hands-on work in the industry, in the relatively short time I have been at the animation process, I have learned more in just a few years on ALL these things than I had in my entire hands on the physical production process world.
   If you haven't the full production experience in film &/or TV, (school means very little - you STILL have to start @ the bottom) you have much to learn to make a complete & comprehensive film with good storytelling without having had the behind the scenes experience in all or many fields. That is why allot of us here on the forum (You KNOW who you are..) are geriatric wonders, learning & producing alone what we could never do after a frustrating career in the physical industry.
  Lastly, there are some here who have vision beyond the scope of their talents, and then there are those with talent and vision so great, they are only limited to these tools. (I'm kinda somewhere in the middle) I am greatly humbled by the experience of seeing your work out there, you are all incredibly talented, & I thank you for all your guidance here on the forum.  ~V~



       Val RogueAnanda
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Good topic, KT.  Nice addition, Rogue.

Filmmaking versus Animation
...and...
Storytelling versus a series of clips


STORYTELLING:

I love a good story, and I really love trying to craft them.  It's fairly easy to come up with "an idea," but even turning that into a story that pulls you from one scene to the next is challenging.  I've probably referenced this before, but I really enjoy this "writing" workshop held by Austin Madison of Pixar.  The best part get started about half-way through:
https://youtu.be/aLVi0hjNrig?t=1768
To me, one of the enlightening (yet obvious) concepts that came out of it was, "Because of that."  In a good story, things unfold in a way that seems "necessary" and "natural."  Even plot twists and turns have a good cause and effect nature to them.  Things should not be random.
In the workshop, they craft a little story, and the end result is a very cute story with an amazing amount of heart.  If you want to jump straight to the result, it's right here (but there is a great montage of him drawing, about a minute before this link) - (the "story" is only a minute or so, the remainder of the video is Q&A):
https://youtu.be/aLVi0hjNrig?t=2512

Also check out https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/pixar and you can see "The art of storytelling" and other topics.


TECHNICAL WORK:

Rogue Anime (1/14/2018)
...there are some here who have vision beyond the scope of their talents...


I think I'd like to put myself in that category.  My vision and my "eyes" exceed my ability to execute.  But at least I'm self-aware enough to not delude myself about my talents.

I love the technology and all the toys to go with modeling, texturing, and animation.  Even audio tools (to a lesser extent), and my NLE (mostly as a necessity).  But mostly I fancy myself as someone who wants to tell stories.  The problem is, it's a lot of work and takes a lot of time to do the animation.

I always use "busy life" as an excuse.  It's largely true, so sometimes it's a "reason" but other times it's more of an excuse.  But what I do is play with individual features, but only on rare occasions do I attempt to put in all together into a finished project.

It's the same for me with Substance Painter (and to a lesser extent, Substance Designer).  I can see things that need to be fixed in other people's work, even though their skills far exceed my own, but I have been able to provide well-received "constructive comments" while knowing I couldn't make anything half as good myself.  I'm also able to help solve technical issues from time-to-time.

Actually, I think I have a bit of a split personality:  I'm a technologist and a storyteller.


BACK TO MOVIE MAKING AND EDITING:

There's an interesting discussion about the importance of editing.  Sometimes it's the details of selecting a shot, or the pacing of the cuts.  But it can also be "editing the story."

A Big Edit...
It is amazing how bad the original Star Wars was in the first rough-cut George Lucas screened with Stephen Spielberg and Brian De Palma, and how much better it was after they re-sequenced some of the scenes.  I many ways, they "re-wrote" the story so scenes flowed better, and the action and energy was not interrupted in random ways.
How Star Wars was Saved in the Edit:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFMyMxMYDNk

A Smaller Edit...
I recently watched a movie with the director's commentary.  ("Pride and Prejudice" - 2005 - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0414387/?ref_=nv_sr_1)
In a ballroom dance scene, the director and editor made a masterfully edited scene, involving wide shots, close-ups of faces, close-ups of hands touching, and so on.  They were immensely pleased with themselves.  A few days later, when looking for a particular bit of footage, they watched through a rather long, single-camera shot of the dance.  The director looked at his editor and asked, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"  They made the decision to through away a two-day editing masterpiece and replace it with a simple uninterrupted cut from one camera, which was beautiful.

I know from my own experience how easy it is to get attached to something; a clever camera angle, an inside joke, a witty like of dialogue.  But you must be willing to through away anything in order to make room for something else that makes the movie better.  Easy to say, difficult to do.





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justaviking (1/14/2018)

Rogue Anime (1/14/2018)
...there are some here who have vision beyond the scope of their talents...

I think I'd like to put myself in that category.  My vision and my "eyes" exceed my ability to execute.  But at least I'm self-aware enough to not delude myself about my talents. I love the technology and all the toys to go with modeling, texturing, and animation.

Viking - Amen, brother - I will never LIVE long enough to execute the things I want to do, and lord knows I've only scratched the surface here - And THAT is why I am doing this now, and enjoying every frustrating/rewarding second of the constant learning process. Thanks for the videos and your well stated thoughts. You are exceptionally talented. I hesitate to post my results or projects when I see what you other incredibly talented & knowledgeable folk in the community are doing. Very humbling, very interesting. Thanks again  ~V~




       Val RogueAnanda
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If I may chime in here... I cannot claim to have any education or industry experience, so I usually learn as I go.

I have taken some courses: one in multimedia production that started me with animation (although I had earlier experience composing film music for a few animation films in the Netherlands), and also a course in screenwriting, which has been helpful.

But my point of departure has always been to make a film using animation in order to tell a story. Otherwise there is little point for me. So it is about aspects of filmmaking. Those who have a background in filmmaking clearly have an advantage, because they are better equipped to figure out staging, lighting, use of camera, editing, etc. I just have to do the best I can. Usually, I try to concentrate on a certain aspect in a project to better myself in the hope that that will carry over to the next project. I can sympathize with the lack of skills, I run into that too. So clever editing is in order...Cool

Filmmaker or animator? Who knows...Unsure


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Thanks Mike!
I have virtually no experience on film or animation but I do have all these story's to tell!
I thank you and others for helping me learn!

Gary 




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I have as many 'failed' scenes and illustrations as I do 'successful' ones. I don't delete the 'failed' ones as sometimes the idea matures
a bit in my brain (usually without me consciously having much to do with it.) Whether I'm doing an illustration or a video,
I remember what Frank Frazetta said about his art, "I try to get into the moment, as if I'm standing there observing it as it happens."

I sort of write the stories as they are unfolding to me. I know the next thing my hero/heroine are going to do because of the story that has gone before
but, other than a sketchy outline of where the overall story is heading, I generally don't know what the next step is.  I seem to work it out while animating and 
my lack of skills in this area, when coupled to a tendency to be a perfectionist, leave me with a lot of time to work out the following plot idea.

When it comes to editing, I do most of it in the camera. I'm backward in that I only use one camera, but I move that camera around a lot to keep things interesting.
Still working on improving my action scenes though, they kinda suck. Wink

It is interesting to see all the 'tests' and 'clips' but I can't seem to stop with those. Pretty much, all of my 'clips' are part of a larger work in progress. I appreciate 
that I'm seeing more finished work, most of these are in episodic form as it is, in my humble opinion, the perfect genre for amateur animators. Producing 20 minutes
of a cohesive story and giving each episode a beginning, middle, and end can be daunting enough for my rather paltry skills. I'm pretty sure 20 minutes reaches
 about the maximum amount of time anyone can stand to watch my feeble attempts at animation.

A great subject Kelley, keep the information coming on this subject as it can only result in better story-telling within the community.

Cool pete

P.S. There is an interesting book titled "Hero With a Thousand Faces" that is the quintessential work on how the myths and stories of the past have given us a roadmap
for the heroes of the present and future. George Lucas leaned on this book heavily in his making of the "Star Wars" saga. It explains how a great hero starts with little
or no knowledge of the world around him (Luke Skywalker or Frodo Baggins) and then goes through a series of life changing events which force him out of his comfort zone
(Luke leaving Tattoine or Frodo leaving the Shire.), and plunging him into a series of adventures which prepares him for his final and ultimate confrontation in the story.
(Luke and Frodo both overcoming the dark side of their respective stories.). Also, the hero must have companions and a mentor to prepare him for his final battle and.
help him/her toachieve his goals. (Yoda, Hans, and Lea,or  Gandalf, Samwise, and Aragorn) It's a classic arrangement and lives in every great hero from antiquity to the present day. Interestingly, Anikan goes through the same process, and although the Dark Side force warps him dramatically and delivers him as an antagonist, the process for getting
there was no different than Lukes own.  

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I first tried 1 or 2x to tell a story with IClone.
Also I have no professional background and do the same as hobby and relaxation and have tried to tell stories with a historical background - I have a clip with IC 5. Here the way of working was no different. But at least I have tried. I made clothes and environment of the avatars myself or worked around. The clip is also YT available.
Will probably be quite uninteresting and diletantious for professionals like you.

Somehow everyone will try to tell a story in their own way.
The implementation is probably better and sometimes worse.
Otherwise there are some history heart counters in Iclone e.g. thedirector1974; AndrePeisker,ThorstenMihm,Vlado and more
Greets from Germany
Postfrosch


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I agree about the manageable length. One of my first (using a radio play for the dialog and story) was about 25 minutes and took 9 months or so. It is hard to stay interested yourself when it gets too long. So what I do now is up to 15 minutes in length. I also do shorter ones in between; the Pinhead ones for Halloween and Xmas are much shorter. Pinhead is a good excuse to do some experimenting...w00t

A project may take longer to get from story to animation, especially when you get stuck. Sometimes there's also some inertia: do I have to do all this work for another 20 seconds? 


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With writing, if you use 100 words to express a 1000 words, then you are really saying something. I imagine it's the same with film making. 



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