3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 8: Mind Candy | 3 | WebReference

3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 8: Mind Candy | 3

Lesson 8 - Mind Candy - Part 3

Let's see what we can do with squash, stretch and twist deformations to develop a simple but effective animated concept.

When we speak of an "animated concept," we get right to the creative heart of the matter. Animation is not a question of creating "things" and then making those "things" move. Animation is about motion itself, and it is just as important that our objects serve the animation--the movement--as that the animation serve the objects. One cannot spend very long doing any kind of animation and not discover that it is creative motion--the change itself--that attracts people to the project. Animation is about change more than it is about "things."

If you've ever been at an old seaside resort or fisherman's wharf, you may remember the traditional salt water taffy pulling machines. The movement of the taffy keeps kids and grownups both spellbound--yet it is simple.

Using traditional taffy colors, and a simple striped pattern, we create an elongated cube.

First let's stretch it out.

Then we squash it down.

These will be the basic keyframes of our loop. At the start of the loop we set a keyframe for the stretched version. In the middle of the loop we set a key for the squashed version. And finally, at the end of the sequence, we set another keyframe (or just "key") for the stretched version. Thus, as the animated sequence is played in a repeating loop, the taffy squashes and stretches in a cycle.

What will make this animation interesting is the superimposition of a second kind of movement on top of the basic cycle. We will create a twist, and then move the twist through the length of the taffy over the sequence.

Here's what this simple animation looks like. I call it Mind Candy.

Notice a special timing trick here that makes a great deal of difference in the final effect. The twist does not appear for the first few frames so that the eye has something to grasp. Even the simplest motions can confuse the viewer and, just as in motion pictures, it is often necessary to take a moment to set the scene. Once the viewer knows where he is and what he is looking at, the motion can begin to run.

Animation concepts don't come out of the air. They emerge organically from familiarity with the tools. As you play with a 3-D application, ideas begin to emerge and become organized into effective concepts. In animation (as in many other things) there is a strong connection between work and play. This may be especially true of animation because people expect animation to be fun, and so a sense of play should animate our work.

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Created: April 22, 1997
Revised: March 6, 1998

URL: http://webreference.com/3d/lesson8/part3.html