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My brother Frank also animates the Shamoozal shorts we do. We're both currently working on GFG#5. He posted a blog post over at Shamoozal.com that is a pretty interesting look at the animation process.
"Hey all. Hope everyone had a good weekend. As for myself, I was able to devote almost this entire weekend to working on the new short, GFG#5. I spent probably around 13-15 solid hours this weekend working. I decided to once again put off Shot04 until I knew I had a nice chunk of time to work on it, so that was what I went after on Saturday. I had reasonable expectation about what I would be able to accomplish, but as usual I didn't meet my goals. In all seriousness, I could easily spent an entire 40 hour work week into this shot.
As I've mentioned before, its probably the most involved shot in the entire short. Flash's shortcomings are starting to rear its head suddenly as there are a lot of layering issues I have to trudge through. For example, I have to keep track of each time Jacquo's arms cross over top of each other, and in this particular shot he does this a lot. His arms are going in front of and behind each other, sometimes obscuring parts of his coat in the process. I almost feel like I could get through this shot faster if I was traditionally cleaning it up with paper and pencil. Simple things like a cuff suddenly overlapping another cuff out of turn causes a traffic jam of layers.
I was looking through some old Shamoozal files and I found that it was this time last year that I was working on "The Last Copy". A whole year. Its a little hard to believe that much time has gone by. Then I think about this short I'm working on, and its been in production since December. Sometimes, I don't know what else I can do to make the shorts go by faster. Its hard for me to compromise on quality, and at times I get caught up in the details that I don't even think most people will see. Like, I spent maybe an hour or so today redrawing Jacquo's collar on his coat for about 7 frames or so as he shifts his weight. At first I think, "well, gotta roll up those sleeves!", and then about half way through I think. "will anyone even notice this?" But there you go. An hour or so spent on redrawing a collar.
Animation is a frustrating process. I constantly go back and forth in my head about doing something with quality vs. cranking something out simply for the sake of cranking it out. I find myself wanting to redraw every frame, but that's not feasible. The shorts would never get done then. So I compromise and cut a corner here and there. I've been around in this business long enough to know where and when to cut those corners and how to pull them off, but if I am given a week or a month to work on a shot, I'll take that week or month. I know it's old hat around here to bust George Lucas's balls, but he once said something along the lines of: "Films aren't finished. They're abandoned." He's right. There's always something that could be fixed or tweaked, but you look at your watch and realize that you've got more shots to do. So you let go and try to ignore the things that bother you about a shot or a sequence.
Above is a frame from a half-way completed Shot04. I posted the rough of that same frame a few weeks back, so I thought I'd post that up to show where things are at this point. Things are moving along slowly but surely."