Amazing Animation Culture


In Japanese culture, people who are crazy over a specific field (e.g. Photography, Movie, Model figure…), especially ACGN (Anime, Comic, Game and Manga) are called Otaku (おたく). You know, this is not a good appellation in today’s world, even in Japan. However, the fact is that Otaku culture is just a form of art, people should gaze at it critically.

Nowadays, animation is one of the biggest component of Otaku culture (I think Manga is another one), which is unique and special (think about the difference between animation and anime). To find the meaning of related technical notions, a vocabulary table will be helpful (Luckily, here is a list provided by a net friend), and Wikipedia will provide a huge database. On the other hand, some self-media will help us to learn about them, anitama is a good choice, they provide a good summarization here.

Storyboard

A storyboard (分镜, 絵コンテ) is a graphic organizer in the form of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture, animation, motion graphic or interactive media sequence.

In animation, the storyboarding stage may be followed by simplified mock-ups called “animatics” to give a better idea of how a scene will look and feel with motion and timing. At its simplest, an animatic is a sequence of still images (usually taken from a storyboard) displayed in sync with rough dialogue and/or rough soundtrack, essentially providing a simplified overview of how various visual and auditory elements will work in conjunction to one another.

Key animation

Key animation (原画) is necessary in animation work, it also called keyframe. A keyframe in animation is a drawing that defines the starting and ending points of smooth transition. The drawings are called “frames” because their position in time is measured in frames on a strip of film.

A sequence of keyframes defines which movement the viewer will see, whereas the position of the keyframes on the film, video, or animation defines the timing of the movement Because only two or three keyframes over the span of a second do not create the illusion of movement, the remaining frames are filled with in-betweens.

In-between

In-between (中割) or tweening is a key process in all types of animation, including computer animation. It is the process of generating intermediate frames between two images, called key frames, to give the appearance that the first image evolves smoothly into the second image. Inbetweens are the drawings which create the illusion of motion.

Traditional inbetweening involves the use of light tables to draw a set of pencil-on-paper pictures. In the inbetweening workflow of traditional hand-drawn animation, the senior or key artist would draw the keyframes which define the movement, then, after testing and approval of the rough animation, would hand over the scene to their assistant. The assistant does the clean-up and the necessary inbetweens, or, in large studios, only some breakdowns which define the movement in more detail, before handing down the scene to their assistant, the inbetweener, who does the rest.

X-sheet

An Time sheet (also x-sheet, 律表) determines the time, lens effect, lines, etc. It allows an animator to organize their thinking and give instructions to the camera operator on how the animation is to be shot. Every line in the sheet represent 1/24 second, and every block in a line represent a picture.

The アクション column is written by key-animator. The セル column is written by animator. Generally, not all blocks in a line should be filled in. For example, in x-コマ case, the interval of every picture is x blocks, which means every picture stays in the frame for x/24 seconds.

Design and timing

Design (デザイン) responsible for the design of various character props, monsters, costumes, weapons, etc. Once the animatic has been approved, it and the storyboards are sent to the design departments. Character designers prepare model sheets for all important characters and props in the film; these are used to help standardize appearance, poses, and gestures. These model sheets will show how a character or object looks from a variety of angles with a variety of poses and expressions so that all artists working on the project can deliver consistent work. Sometimes, small statues known as maquettes may be produced, so that an animator can see what a character looks like in three dimensions. At the same time, the background stylists will do similar work for the settings and locations in the project, and the art directors and color stylists will determine the art style and color schemes to be used.

Shoot

Shoot (摄影) plays an important role in animation. In a word, the basic work of Shoot is combining the character layer with the background layer. In real world shooting, many effects will be added to the combined picture, such as flare, para, blur, etc.

After recording

After Recording (AR) is a kind of way to record voice of actor. During this stage, episode director and other related staff will give guidance at the scene. Voice actor often complete their work by facing storyboard (絵コンテ撮) or key animation (原撮).

Dubbing

Dubbing, mixing or re-recording, is a post-production process used in filmmaking and video production in which additional or supplementary recordings are “mixed” with original production sound to create the finished soundtrack. This notion can be extended to animation.

Cutting

Cutting (编集, カッティング, CT) is the later period of animation. After cutting, the animation has a specific and proper duration. Actually, cutting is flexible. In today’s animation work, the construction period is getting tighter and tighter, the storyboard is often cutting before the finished product, which is called offline cutting. In another situation, cutting after painting and shooting is called online cutting.

Vedio cutting (V编) is the last step of animation, the staff and cast information will be added to the vedio in order to make animation finished. After this, the animation vedio can be sent to television station.