Animation and VFX are two indispensable tools of modern filmmaking. Although animation has been extensively used in media and entertainment content for several years, it is most of the time falsely considered as a part of VFX. And also in no way should VFX be considered superior to Animation. Both serve different purposes even though they have some overlapping workflow approaches. Both also offer rewarding career options and you can choose the best institutes to get trained in animation & VFX. With promising career courses, you can build a successful career in the media & entertainment industry as an Animator or VFX Artist.
Before we dive into the key differences between them, two let’s consider them to keep things in perspective.
Like any other art form, animation too grew from scratch. It was initially done through sketches on a film, and subsequently with the help of software. However, that was not the case in VFX. It had the advantage of being created on high-end tech right off the bat. Techniques were inherited from the ones used in animation like lighting, modeling and texturing. Despite this, it is good to know that both continue to evolve and grow at their own pace. Now let’s dive into the differences
Animation in a pure sense is about creating motion in a character. The character could be in the form of a human being, objects or just about anything. It could be a sketch, painting or even a physical model. Animation creates illusions of movement in these characters and thus creating a scene. The concept of VFX is the exact opposite of it. VFX is applied to real scenes or frames. The special effects created on the software are superadded on real elements thus enabling us to manipulate live-action shots with the help of computer-generated imagery. This helps us to achieve tasks that otherwise won’t be possible or might be expensive during production.
credits: Mateusz Butkiewicz on Unsplash
In terms of time taken, the animation is usually but not always a laborious process as it is involved right from the beginning of production. VFX is a part of post-production and becomes challenging only when most of the shots of a movie heavily rely upon it as in Sci-fi and Superhero movies. Talking solely about the post-production phase, VFX takes longer even though the number of people involved is higher. It requires an editor, colourist, motion designer, sound designer, 3D artists and compositors while post-production in animation is mostly devoted to sound designing which plays a bigger part here than the former.
From an economical perspective, the cost of technology is higher in VFX. Animations are flexible in the sense that you can simplify the costs. That being said, if the animation is complex, the requirement for specialized professionals drastically increases and so does the cost. Movies of studios like Pixar and Dreamworks require as much budget as VFX of Disney.
credits: Ryan Garry on Unsplash
Excited to build a career in Animation or VFX? There are plenty of courses available at the best animation & VFX institute. Choose a course that suits your requirements the best and get started!
Recently there has been a significant rise in ‘baby’ characters in animated movies and shows and it’s not a surprise that they are doing exceptionally well not just at the box office but also as merchandise. There are loads of examples to back this up, some of the most popular ones being ‘Baby Yoda’ and ‘Boss Baby’. Let’s get to know the basic fundamentals of creating such attention grabbing characters.
Let’s take Jack Jack from ‘The Incredibles’ as an example for the body proportions. The easily noticeable design is the big forehead and the absence of the neck.
Children have small legs, heads with the same width as the shoulders and a tiny chin. As the character gets older, the head stays at the same size but the legs and neck grow along with other aspects of the body. In animations, little children can have even bigger heads than the adults. Also make note of it that babies are full of folds, simply because they has more skin available to cover the bones than adults. This makes them appear chubby and cute.
Remember ‘Boss Baby’? Even though the voice over was provided by sixty three year old Jack Baldwin, the creators of the movie were still be able to match it with a 2 years old character. And that was possible because Boss Baby was one of the exceptions where the plot line itself demanded a baby to act like a professional businessman and not that of a kid. Normally, responses from a child or a baby to their external surroundings, even though immature but are still extremely varied over different ages. This is due to the transition between childhood and the adulthood and the result of this process is characterized by severe changes in both the physical and social status.
To express the characteristics of this transition, it is essential that you observe children’s behaviour in real life. Babies’ curiosity to explore new objects and kids’ the tendency to be talkative and appearing smart are the defining features.
Displaying emotions solely through facial expressions is something cartoons are well known for throughout the history. The major element of conveying emotions such as anger and happiness lies in the eyes and the movements of the nose.
While babies have very small and closed eyes in real life, in animations they are very expressive and giant, in order to create a better harmony with the big head. This technique works with any character which tries to pass the impression of being cute, so it’s more a matter of style and taste rather than a rule. Also notice how their bodies reacts to external stimuli, how their emotions are expressed and how they see the world differently.
Image Credits: (c)Dreamworks
While drawing kids is a great way to go back and being one of them, creating them with the correct appeal takes practice, time and lots of observation. And don’t forget to always look for creating subtle differences between characters, even if they’re of the same age. We recommend you to watch the following movies to get the
1) The Incredibles
2) Boss Baby
4) My Neighbor Totoro
5) Spirited Away
Remember that it’s best to just work around improving your initial sketches and adding details to it rather than following a strict guidelines. Get trained in the creative and technical aspects of animation with Arena’s career courses in Animation.
Which is your favourite baby character in Animation movies/shows? Let us know in the comments section.
ASIFA India is Celebrating International Animation Day 2021 with three days of power-packed programs running over the 26th, 27th and 28th October. Legends of animation, games and VFX will give masterclasses on topics ranging from traditional art techniques to cutting edge technology, and there will be a case study of the Oscar winning film, Tenet. The events are free and all are welcome to join the online sessions and get inspired! Registration is open on the links below.
ASIFA India is spearheaded by “Vani” Saraswathi Balgam and led with heart by an amazing team of Sanjay Khimesara, Sesha Prasad, Ramakrishnan Vinod, Siva Kasetti , Ramakrishna Polina and Priyanka Ajit. ASIFA India is celebrating 22 years.
On 26th October unreal fellow and tech evangelist at Epic Games Arvind Neelakantan will open up the world of real time pipelines for animation using Unreal Engine. Arvind has been in the games and animation industry for 13 years with industry leading studios such as The Walt Disney Company, Nickelodeon and Unity. Arvind excels in making the technically complex accessible to artists. We can look forward to a fun session.
On 27th October Jigesh Gajjar, Head of VFX at DNEG India, will present a case study of the 2021 Oscar winning film for outstanding VFX, Tenet. Jigesh will go behind the scenes with a 40 minute in depth discussion about how DNEG pulled off the incredibly complex effects for Christopher Nolan’s ambitious film. In his career spanning 18 years Jigesh has worked on Oscar-winning films such as Life of Pi, Blade Runner 2049, and First Man.
ASIFA India’s flagship event on 28th October, International Animation Day, will honor the foundations of art with a special program, for the first time in India, by legendary artist Glenn Vilppu. In the 90 minute session there will be the rare opportunity to witness Vilppu at work with a live demo. Glenn Vilppu is a master of drawing for classical animation and has trained artists at studios such as Disney and Marvel for over 50 years. Glenn’s numerous books and videos are used by universities and art schools around the world. The event will be followed by a raffle where a few lucky fans can win a book signed by Vilppu.
ASIFA International is the oldest organisation globally that supports animation and a commitment to the welfare of art, creativity and the artist.
The past year and a half has been challenging and events like this keeps us all connected and supports the growth of artists and advancements in art and technology in India. Our sponsors – Unreal Engine, Creative Multimedia, DNEG, IACG, Dancing Atoms and Arena Animation – are all committed to this positive momentum..
Additional support is provided by Huion, Citrus Studios, Sxills, Arena Geeta Bhawan (HID) and Destiny Logic. Media Partners for the event are Animation Express, AWN, Women in Animation, Animation Magazine, MESC, Annecy, View, TASI, and vfxexpress. Event partners are THU, Annecy, CTN, and Siggraph Asia.
Master class : Real-time pipelines for animation using Unreal Engine
Expert : Arvind Neelakantan, Technical Account Manager, Epic games
Animation Software that the Aspiring Animators Should Consider Learning
Is there a must-learn software that will help you create the highest quality animation? Of course there is more than one. But the real question is, which software you would be most comfortable with. There are many options out there, but given the time and energy being invested in learning a software, choose the one that will give you an edge over others. Achieve mastery in that tool.
For those who are considering working on animation software, the top four contenders are Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max, Blender, and Houdini.
While the first two are advanced software used by professionals, Blender is free and perhaps the best choice for a beginner. Netflix’s ‘Next Gen’ was created in Blender and to quote the director Joe Ksander: “Artists, not tools, yo.”
If you wish to make a career in the animation industry, you may have to use the software that is being used in the studio you join. In such cases, knowing the fundamentals of one software can come handy as the workflow is almost the same across all. Flexibility can help you a long way. Below is a list of popular animation software, and why you should consider learning them.
Modeling, Animation, Rigging & Simulation
Autodesk Maya is the most commonly used animation software! The latest versions have brought in huge improvements. While Maya is an ecosystem, its UI setups can be divided into Modeling, Rigging, Animation, FX, and Rendering. If you choose this software, you get access to plugins, scripts, learning materials, and tons of materials online as large and small studios across the world have been using this software for years now.
Contrary to the belief that Maya is hard, it isn’t. It takes a while to learn, but once you get the hang of it, you can work faster. Thorough knowledge of Maya could be your first step to a career in animation, game development or VFX.
Autodesk 3ds Max
It is an out-of-the-box software for poly modelling. It gives you a more direct and in-control feeling. As compared to Maya, 3ds Max is said to be more user-friendly. It is widely used in the creation of commercials and games than movies. A lot of indie studios are opting for 3ds Max rather than Maya.
Houdini comes into the picture if budget is a concern. Maya is expensive than Houdini. However Houdini has an edge over Maya for dynamic simulations and time efficiency. It has been used for movies like Pacific Rim and the Harry Potter series.
It is an open source software. If you are a beginner, Blender is a good place to start. It supports asll aspects of the 3D pipeline including modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing, and video editing.
Nuke is the industrial standard for compositing. It is versatile, customisable, and user friendly. It comes with hundreds of creative nodes including rotoscope and vector paint tools that allow you to master digital compositing. The deep image compositing tools help you to work with images of various opacity, colour and camera-relative depth. The machine learning tools save your time, especially when creating sequence-specific effects. You will not need to explore others if you master this node-based software.
Arnold is an advanced renderer and is used for feature-length animation and visual effects. It is capable of great photorealistic renders. Arnold’s plug-ins are available for Maya, 3ds Max and Houdini.
If you are looking for a single solution when it comes to animation software, the best consideration would be Autodesk Maya as most studios are interested in hiring professionals with expertise in this software. Once you know Maya, you can adapt to any program within a short period of time.
Just like any other form of art, Animation too is varied. As a career field, there are different types of animation and styles as there are animators in this industry.
Setting up a list or stating the types of animation based on some defined criteria would be a major flaw and also insufficient as the variations are too flexible. Nevertheless we have tried to compile all possible variations of animations based on the technique that are being used and the comparison of the styles between them. The following list should not be accounted as an absolute reference for animation types; it is more like a general idea to see the bigger picture.
1. 3D Computer Animation
3D Computer Animation or 3D Animation is the process of generating three dimensional moving images in a digital environment. This is the most common and popular animation style today, and is used in movies, games, ads, architectural visualization, medical simulations, and more.
Manipulation of 3D models is carried out with the help of software. However ‘animation’ is a broad term and there are many more aspects to it, each offering a wide range of career prospects. There is modelling, rigging, lighting, texturing, rendering, and animation, and there are sub-fields to these too. Involvement of sophisticated software makes 3D animation technologically intense. As you know, technology does help artists redefine their craftsmanship.
While there are various other animation styles that you may consider, as a career aspirant, a 3D Animation course may interest you the most.
Check out the trailer of Pixar’s Oscar award winning 3D animated movie here to understand this style better.
2. Traditional or Cell Animation
This was once a huge milestone in the history of animation, but is almost obsolete since it is time-consuming and expensive to produce.
Images are drawn or painted by skilled hands, one frame at a time, on the celluloid sheets (cels) to be photographed and exhibited on film. One of the major obstacles of this to seamlessly transform into a film was the timing of the frame with the sound. Every frame had to match with the background score/dialogues or else could appear as a major distraction. Hand drawing of hundreds of frames with precision is such an energetically draining task.
Image credits: Disney Enterprises, Inc.
3. 2D Animation
Conventionally, 2D animation was the same as cel-animation. However, with the introduction of computers, 2D animation got a technical upgrade. Today animators create scenes and characters a 2D space with the help of digital technologies and tools available to them. Compared to drawing multiple images, using computers is far less time-consuming and effective.
2D animation is most commonly seen in educational videos, editorials and advertisements today. However, there are a few entertainment series and games that continue to use 2D Animation style. ‘F is for Family’ and ‘Rick and Morty’ are a few examples of 2D entertainment series.
Today, you can be a 2D animator even if drawing isn’t your strong suit. Traditional animation, on the other hand, requires very strong drawing skills.
4. Stop Motion Animation
Physical objects are manually manipulated in small movements in between individual frames so that they will appear to exhibit motion when the series of frames is played. Any kind of physical objects with the capability to twist and turn can thus be animated. Puppets with movable joints (puppet animation) or figures (claymation) are most commonly used. The key here is not the sound but to make small changes from frame to frame to make the illusion of motion as smooth as possible. Isn’t it time taking? Perhaps more than traditional animation. But this animation style is extremely adaptable as one can get as creative as they want. Plus it is easy to impress film critics and audience alike using this.
Take a look at the behind the scenes of animating Shaun the Sheep Movie with animator Andy Symanowski.
5. Motion Graphics
Commonly called Mographs, it is less of animation and more of graphic designing. Motion graphics can be both 2D and 3D, and you will find commonly in commercials, explainer videos, sporting events, news, and other television productions. Previously, before the advent of computer editing, it was a time-consuming process that was limited to high-budget productions.
Check out this simple motion graphics animation video.
The depth of understanding an artistry is what defines an artist. With the current evolution of computer there are may be many more variants piling up in this list.