Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Character Design and The Why of Turnarounds

Animators love to watch things turnaround. When I was working in video games I loved getting ‘animation reels’ that were no more than a semi-naked disproportionately muscled he-person endlessly twirling. Even though I thought it was cheeky that any one should consider these 360s to be animation, turnarounds do serve an important purpose. They are the ultimate test drive for your character. When I started to create turnarounds for my own characters an animator friend of mine asked me why I was bothering. You designed them you know them don’t you? Well the answer to that question was no - the quick character sketches I did for my storyboards weren’t necessarily going to translate into an animatible character. I had no idea if my character could move in perspective and because she had no construction I couldn’t start animating until I had the blueprint to draw her accurately and consistently from different angles.

What those he-beast animation reels usually revealed was how badly the character had been designed. Details that look cool from one angle and ridiculous from others. And speaking of details there are usually waaaay too many of them. Who wants to draw them over and over again? Even in 3D if you take the time to model them but they don’t have their own movement then they stand out like dead appendages so that all we see is the flappy dangly bits that don’t flap or dangle. So, suffice to say I did want to keep things simple and I am partial to characters that have dots for eyes.

Joe the Egg from Mister Toast

Can’t get any better than the evil Penguin in The Wrong Trousers. Who needs a gazillion pupils to give a character expression?

The range within character design is like all things in animation is infinite. From the very simple to the not so simple. I worked on a straight to video Beauty and the Beast Christmas something or other years ago and one thing I do remember apart from the phone book sized NDA was the model sheet for Belle. Her face had been broken down with amazing geometric detail.

Having just worked on a NFB film where I was asked to animate a realistic version of Molly Parker

I realized how quickly she could go from innocent PYT to hardened hooker with just the micro slip of the pencil. So I had a new deep admiration for people who design and animate semi realistic female characters. This is why the Belle facial road map makes sense even though it looks completely over the top. Anyway like my previous postings there is always a disconnect between my beliefs and my abilities. My first turnaround for Bismarck was pretty bad and he looked like a beach ball Blofeld.

Ester really had no bum at all –as she had spent most of her time seated behind her desk in the storyboard it had been easy to ignore her lower half.

Joy is just a big bell which is fine when she is up right but I still haven’t decided how much the bell will move or more importantly whether she will have anything underneath the bell when she is hanging out in downward dog in Sequence 4.

Knowing Joy, I imagine her to be wearing the regulation ’bloomers’ underneath her bell.

Yes bloomers – and no I am not in my sixties but I did go to an Anglican private school for delinquent girls and we had to wear these puppies as part of our lovely gym strip. I am not sure why but I imagine Joy to be the kind of girl/women who might still harbor the leftovers of her school uniform. Anyway that was a bit of a tangent – but I just couldn’t resist writing (and googling)the word bloomers. So I will leave you with some endless twirling. Like the creamers before them the characters have gone through a lot of trials before arriving at their final destination.

CREAMERS - Early Character Tests from Hilary Moses on Vimeo.

CREAMERS - Ester Final Colour from Hilary Moses on Vimeo.

CREAMERS - Joy Final Colour from Hilary Moses on Vimeo.