4 Ways to Speed Up Your Animation Working Time

One of the most important things ever in any project is the ability to save time. Perfectionists need to save time, so they can enhance their work. Directors need to have the project ahead of time to review the work again and again and manager any changes before the deadline. Big studios need to be ahead of schedule.

So, here comes the bummer. Who is the one with the responsibility to deliver an animation on time? Well. Bad news. You. Yes, you, the Animator. The fate of humanity rests on your shoulders, think of yourself of a Hero on a journey that needs a associate of tips to make the adventure more enjoyable and short.

I. HAVE A HIGH APM (Actions Per Minute)

To be faster at anything, you need to have a way to measure Actions Per Minute. There are two ways to copy and paste anything in the virtual world. Navigating to the EDIT Menu, and select COPY, then move your mouse again all the way to the EDIT menu, and then click on PASTE. Or! You can press and keep up the CTRL meaningful on your keyboard (CMD on Mac), and rapidly press “C” then “V”. Right? Using your keyboard can get a higher APM than navigating by menus.

Use Shortcuts! I’ve seen some professionals navigate by menus to get things done, it’s embarrassing. Believe it or not, just by using shortcuts, I’m 20% faster than other animators. So what? Well, when I do freelance projects, clients hire me because they know I deliver ahead of time, because, already though we do the same things sharing the same course of action, I do it faster (using shortcuts).

Customize Shortcuts. Some software like After Effects doesn’t allow you to customize your shortcuts, but if you can, DO IT! The best Keyboard Profile is the one that handles your most used shortcuts near your right hand. The less your right hand has to move from left to right on the keyboard, the better. That’s why you should try to have all the major roles close in your keyboard “mapping”. Examples could be: CTRL+F, CTRL+G, CTRL+TAB, CTRL+SHIFT+W, SHIFT+3, ALT+SHIFT+3, etc. They are all close together.

Consider using a Gaming Keyboard, Gaming Mouse or Gaming Keypad. The one I recommend the most is the Gaming Keypad (like Razer Orbweaver or Logitech G13) because when the software doesn’t sustain shortcut customization, you can customize your Keypad to have all the major roles next to each other, and better however, instead of pressing 3 keys (like CTRL+SHFT+P), you only press one single meaningful on your keypad.

Automate using Macros. You can do this if you have a Gaming Mouse, Gaming Keyboard or Gaming Keypad. A macro is a ordern of meaningful presses that can be automated into a single press of a dedicated meaningful on your keypad. For example. In after effects

II. OPTIMIZE YOUR ANIMATION course of action

Optimizing method to make the best use of the resources at your disposal for your project. So the best way to approach your animation course of action is by handling the 2 most important things in any project. Your Pipeline and your starting Keyframes

Optimized Pipeline. The folder structure of all your files is vital to handling the project with ease. Have folders separately for your sounds, music, pictures, video references, characters and project files (toon expansion, after effects, etc.). In our studio, if we do a bit of motion graphics, we have them in a folder named AFTER EFFECTS, and the main project in a folder named TOON expansion, then the edited animation on PREMIERE. So if any changes have to be made, we know what folder to look, and if we need an audio file, we know exactly where to find it. Every Animation school is teaching the importance of this, and is not just because it looks cleaner and more beautiful, but because it works.

Set Up meaningful Poses first, manager details later. Yes, yes, you want to impress your boss or your friends, with how expressive your characters can be. It’s better if you block (present your character) the important keyframes first, the starting position, the middle of the action and the aftermath. And then add additional animation later on.

III. USE A GOOD RIG (Avoid unreliable ones)

Using a good quality rig is basic, having to modify keyframes and poses only method that the rig is not good and is making you waste time. A good rig allows you to be free and more creative, because you can make your character change it’s posing with ease, so your animation course of action is more dynamic. If you are unable to come up with a good rig, then outsource (have someone else do it for you) or use the rig only to get the meaningful poses, then, forget about the rig and manager additional animation (like hands, tail, hair) manually.

One quick way to know if the Rig is good, is by understanding Inverse Kinematics, and having them in your rig. If you don’t know what inverse kinematics method, check this video: http://vimeo.com/96444901

IV. RECYCLE WHAT YOU CAN

Recycle Keyframes. Don’t waste time blocking the character again, when the present is very similar to one before confined, you can copy and paste keyframes and tweak them. For example, if you have a fighter giving a low punch, and you later need a high punch, copy and paste the present, and then modify it. You will have the correct hip rotation, foot position, and will only need to modify the height position of the fist and maybe the torso. That’s faster than having to block everything.

Recycle Animations. I’m referring to a ordern of keyframes here. The most shared example is eye blinking. Instead of manually opening and closing the eyes in the timeline, you copy and paste keyframes across it. Another example would be a walk cycle: if you need to have the character walking and doing something with the hands, like giving orders to other characters, you can recycle the animation, but delete the keyframes for the torso, hands and head, and animate them. This way, half of the work is already done.

Use Older Animations as Reference. Sometimes the timing is perfect and the animation curves (for the interpolation) give you the smoothness you were looking for, but now, you are working on another project and are having problems, you just can’t figure out what you did. This is when a past animation can help as a reference. All you do is check the number of frames between keyframes, to get the timing right, and check the animation curves.

Instead of wasting time trying to unprotected to the same consequence, you can save time by getting the correct calculations checking a past project. Like the timing and interpolation for the keyframes of the legs in an Angry Walk Cycle, in which every step was so vigorous that made kids burst into laughter.

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