27 March 2021

Animation: Nauti :Mordre Moi Pas! (Don't bite me!)

 The last time I did a honest to goodness 2D drawn animation was when I was a teenager. I had built my own animation stand, filmed it with my Bell & Howell Super 8 and edited on my hand cranked film editor.  That animation was a dragon catching the wind then swooping down and then upwards past the camera. I made a pipe cleaner model with plastic bag wings and photographed it in the key frame positions for reference. I sketched it out on paper then inked one side of plastic sheets and hand painted the colours on the opposite site one by one before adding a painted sky and placing them over that to be filmed. It was FANTASTIC. Well, I remember it being fantastic. It's been lost to time so I have a feeling my memory of it has been more than slightly enhanced over the years. 

Times have changed, for the better with computer based animation software. I was going to redo that dragon but instead I decided to try a new idea using one of the many (it turns out) application on my hard drive that can handle 2D animation. I have done some 2D for explainer videos more recently and to add something to3D animations that I couldn't achieve using that software. Out of practice - but not unaware of what I was getting myself into. 

After Effects, Motion, Krita, Rough Animator, Photoshop, Procreate, Blender all have 2D potential and components. Rough animator seemed perfect but it was... too rough for what I wanted. I think I will use it for what it is named to do, to make rough tests, in future. The others were Ok if you were mostly using puppets, characters broken into segments and then moving the segments, but Krita has an awesome set of painting tools so I decided to try it out. It had much of what I was looking for and the interface was clunky but easy for me to understand. I got about a second into the animation when I had to stop. Krita was just too slow and buggy in animation mode, it needs some love from the developers still. I will keep an eye out for improvements.

I had downloaded but never really used Open Toonz, a free open source software that had a really large feature set. I would love to have a copy of Toon Boom but it's subscription only and not cheap enough to play with so Open Toons won out. It was faster and handled the layers and number of frames better than Krita but it lacks all but the most basic of drawing tools, something that I think is its biggest problem. Any backgrounds or elements that need any detail of refinement I would do in a paint program and import them.

Though buggy at times, the eraser doesn't always work and the interface is somewhat primitive and one might say ugly, it does do the job. It has vector tools, puppet tools, great onion skinning to see what came before and after you current frame and was free. Exporting is funky and you need an add-on to export to mpg video while jpg and tif exported fine, png which I needed to use dropped a few frames on my first export. Clearly it still needs work but it also provides pretty much everything I needed to do the animation. 

I split Nauti into a frame by frame drawn head, while the body, arms and tail were puppet animated as were the legs. I did a rough sketch animation and then traced that and coloured it before exporting the animation in sections so I could composite it in layers in Motion. It was a pretty straightforward work flow. Originally I thought I wanted a black and white pencil sketch look but decided that something more "fully rendered" would be a better challenge. 

So is it a Disney classic? Hardly. Not at all. That wasn't the point of making it, though. I learned many things about Open Toons and 2D animation. I am not a comic or cartoon illustrator so just making the dog was pretty hard and I found timing in 2D was more different than in 3D than I thought it might be. My voice is as terrible as ever but this is not an audition for my voice talents so it's fine for now.

I will make another, either another Nauti or maybe I will remake my dragon masterpiece. I need to do more and better pencil tests next time, learn more about timing and setting up Open Toonz, and get better with the drawing tools in Open Toonz as well as draw in comic style better. 


T' said...

I think it gets the point across, and I think your voice acting is just fine. It's perfect for the feel of the piece. Does your dog really try and bite your toes? I'm sure that if you continue working on 2D you'll improve. It's a whole different skill set than 3D though some programs I've seen do a lot of the work for you. Seems you wanted to render every frame yourself, which is commendable.

Behemoth media said...

I am sure I'l learn some creative short cuts over time. He stopped biting after about--- 6 months but he still sees my toes under the covers and goes in for the kill sometimes. I am not sure he knows it's me or maybe some mouse or something under there! If Toon Boom hadn't become so expensive and subscription only, I would have loved to try that so I am hoping that Open Toonz get some of the love that Blender and Krita has been getting. You know I thought this was going to be 30 seconds long at first... was I insane?

Fav Cous said...

This is proof that Nauti can be naughty (as Em thought his name indicated). I'm glad he made his way in to your creations.

Lou said...

As one of your oldest (although still younger than you..wink wink) friends I can attest as a witness that everything you created when we were teens was, in fact, fantastic. I was in constant awe of your incredible talent and intense dedication…each fueled by an imagination that was equally poetic and phantasmagorical.
As I read the first paragraph, I had flashback memories of your dragon film (as well as some other films that we won’t discuss here!) No one else I know or knew would have created such, so you must have shared it with me (?)
I loved your ‘Nauti” short! It was nice to hear your voice and the final off screen ‘acting’ made me smile & laugh.
p.s. And funny (or perhaps sad) but despite my 7 years of HS and college French when I quickly read the title, it registered as something between “I’m Not Dead” and “Don’t Kill Me”. Oh, What would Mlle DiTullio say !?!

Behemoth media said...

I think over time you overtake me in age and get to be the older one! I am-retry sure that is how it works! I think you might be the only one besides me that saw that animation. I remember winning an art contest at a sci fi convention and I made you go get the award for me. I won’t forget you doing that for me! I still have the painting. It was a of Mars and it’s moons.