[-empyre-] CG and all things fuzzy
futurenatural at blueyonder.co.uk
Sun Feb 14 23:40:52 EST 2010
having your Computer Science Department teach computer animation does
seem unusual. I wonder if this is specific to Cornell?
This question reminds me of something you (Renate) posted last week
when you talked about how you found your students were concentrating
too much on the "programatic aspects" and ignoring whether the final
animation was really working? This split is certainly a widespread
issue and I find it begins as a consequence of the way that animation
software is designed and used. As the discussion is moving more
decisively towards "problems with the digital" I thought I would put
down a few thoughts now.
When using software there is a strong tendency to "animate with the
numbers" instead of looking at the screen at what is actually
happening. So if you want to animate an apple falling onto the ground
you know when it has hit the ground because the height value of the
bottom of the apple equals the height value of the ground plane.
Except that it often doesn't look right. You might have to add
shadows or textures or make the ground reverberate in a way that it
doesn't actually do in reality. But the student will sometimes say it
must be right because the numbers say the apple is on the ground!
Another example is anatomy. In computer animation you tend to keep
the basic anatomical body the same all the way through because there
is something in the rational world of software design that insists
that you cannot suddenly loose or gain an arm. But of course
traditional animators do this all the time, if characters get into a
fight for instance. There are lots of examples like this.
My personal issue is with keyframing and the timeline. Keyframing is
the most popular way of digitally animating and appears to be a
straightforward reflection of traditional practice of keyframes and
inbetweening. Except that it isn't because the computer's automation
of inbetweening means that these intervals between extreme frames are
no longer subject to conscious design as they were when there were
people actually drawing them. The result is often a lot of syrupy
animation as the software is obliged to smoothly interpolate between
as few keyframes as possible. But this isn't a problem with the
technology as such. It is perfectly possible to animate "manually" in
most software programs. You could simply just create a keyframe on
every frame. But in practice most people don't even think of doing
this because "that's the computer's job".
This isn't really a problem in interface design. It's more to do with
the concepts that we are interfacing with (although not exactly that
either). The problem is not to resist software as to find a different
angle on it. Building your own Open Source software or DIY media is a
much talked about option but not open to most people. And in any
case, how do I know what I want software to do?
Lev has pointed out how some animation qualities like continuous
variability of the image arise out of software design. And this
software design also supports and extends older practices like the
layering of cells that Tom used to describe the qualities of "limited
animation" and the "time-image". But all of this is complicated by
the fact that the fundamental assumptions of software design are not
necessarily constant nor is its conventional usage (hopefully,
otherwise we're stuck). It is not a matter of the different technical
abilities of software or of how much it costs, but of how easily a
technical potential can be perceived by the user in a way that
motivates engagement. This is the point at which the "techno-
aesthetic" is worked out - different motifs that permeate
technological, social and cultural levels.
That's more than I intended to write so that's enough for now. And
it's not even "my week" yet...
On 13 Feb 2010, at 04:37, Renate Ferro wrote:
> Dear Paul and Suzanne,
> Can you both talk about how CG fits into your animation programs? At
> Cornell, Computer Graphics and 3D animation is taught by Computing
> faculty. It is in the art department where students, particularly
> recently, have been creating stop action, frame by frame, roto-
> drawing based and a medley of other fuzzies. Whether working from
> photography based or original drawing. their novel, quirky rendering
> styles, interdisciplinary interests and criticality make their work
> and innovative.
> How does it work in the UK?
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the empyre