Simple Animation : The Dinosaur

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Posted on: September 27th, 2014 by Jared Robinson

I still have much to learn, but I have been dabbling with animation more and more lately.

I made a simple animation for a project I am working on, that will ultimately be overlayed over video to help illustrate what the subject will be talking about.

It is interesting to see how intricate a simple animation can be, and all the things you need to think about.

Moving Parts:
A dinosaur, for instance has a head, a tail, a body, arms, legs, eyes, and a mouth. The legs move when walking, but at the same time so do other parts of the body. The legs need to pivot at the joint. The eyes blink, or squint when exerting energy. All the parts make up the whole.

Keyframing is the process of taking an image and changing it over time – movement, position, rotation, scale, etc. To make a dinosaur move from from one side of the screen to the other you need to set a keyframe where you want the movement to begin, and then later in the timeline you will set another keyframe where you want that movement to end. At the same time as the body moves from point A to point B, the legs need to pivot as well, and the arms need to respond to that action. Sometimes I want the eyes to move with the rest of the head so I put them in a folder with the head and keyframe that folder, which animates everything in it. Sometime I want the eyes to animate on their own, so I keyframe only their layer within the folder. Like I say, lots to think about.

How a cartoon acts similar and differently to human movement:
I want my dinosaur to move in a way that is natural. When a person walks, their arms sway as their legs move back and forth – and so I did the same with my dinosaur. I want to make its movement believable, yet also quirky.
On the other hand, with cartoons, you often want to exaggerate movement. I wanted my dinosaur to run in and then stop. A person would just slow their walk down until they have stopped, but I decided to have my dinosaur skid to a stop – the legs lock up, the body tilts to compensate for its momentum rapidly decreasing, and then rocks back to the standing position.

Sound Effects:
Once my animation is complete, I add sound effects which made it come alive even more.

There are so many cogs in the machine, but it is fun and rewarding to watch it all come together.