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What I learned about animation from Mike Kazaleh

May 7, 2007

When I was just starting to animate (traditionally, not 3D) I had a commercial to do all to myself. I labored for many days to get strong poses in my work, but for some reason the animation looked dull and mushy. Kazaleh was a regular face at our small operation, animating many of the bigger projects. kazaleh.jpg

He took a stack of my animation drawings off the camera table and, without saying a word, began pulling drawings out and throwing them on the floor. “Too many drawings,” he said as he handed back my much smaller stack of drawings. “Flip that.” When I flipped the new stack I was amazed at how well the animation looked. I couldn’t believe it was mine.

2D animators struggle with drawing too many inbetweens between their keys. It’s hard to throw drawings away when you’ve invested so much time in them, especially ones that better show of your drawing flourishes. It also demonstrates a laziness in working out good poses. If I can get away with drawing 3 keys and charting a lot of inbetweens, I’ll have a more relaxed afternoon instead of wrestling to find another one or two keys and working that into my scene.

3D animators struggle with allowing the software to calculate a characters inbetween poses. Different tool, same problem. Think about your inbetweens just as much as you think about the key posing. Unplanned inbetweens can kill good posing.

Funny Drawings

Kazaleh also taught me to strive to have every single drawing be a funny and interesting drawing–even the most mundane inbetween. If all the poses are interesting or funny, then the animation will be funny and interesting. Neutrality and awkward inbetweens add an ‘off’ flavor to the animation. Every frame must be interesting.

And it’s true. As I had the chance to look at animated drawings from great animators, I loved every single frame they drew. It was all very appealing.

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