Just got a book today that I ordered from Amazon.com – “Inspired 3D Short Film Production”. As I watched the DVD of shorts that came with the book and thought of the dozens of ideas swirling around in my head, I came to terms with the reality of computer animation – the animation step itself, it pretty trivial with respect to the rest of the process. In other words, in a good animation package like Blender, the animation is actually the relatively easy part. The hardest part is making the objects, giving them textures/colors, and rigging them up with bones so they can be animated. After that, animation is relatively easy. Relatively easy because, it’s still pretty hard to create convincing animation. However, making a good model in the first place is tough. It takes the Blender character animation book until page 82 to finish up a character of moderate difficulty. Of course, the process gets fast with time. I was able to model the budgie a lot faster than I was able to model my penguin and Raul Domingo. However, it still takes a fair amount of time to model a reasonably nice character.
I think this is one of the reasons why I’m a huge fan of the minimalist style of animation. It works very well. Take a look at a lot of cartoons and web comics and you’ll find that, by and large, a lot of the scenery is implied. Often they don’t draw blades of grass or leaves on trees. I’m part of that school of thought – provide enough to make the viewer forget that the characters are just computer pixels. If they can connect emmotionally with your characters, that’s all you need.