At Optious we’ve had many projects in the works, but this stands out as our most complex project and the social media engagement shows. From Chasing Possible to Saving Humpty Dumpty, we’ve pushed our character animation skills to the limit. But in order to get out of our comfort zone we needed to make it even harder for ourselves. More complex animations, transitions, and better visuals.
Looking back at our previous endeavors, our videos are packed with motion graphics but not too many opportunities to animate characters coupled with complex visuals. Starting from scratch with all the knowledge and experience we gathered, we set out to make our best 2D character-driven animation to date. The raison d’etre for this project was to evolve every single part of the video. It’s as if we’re a band and this is our concept album.
We broke a lot of our rules, using more experimental transitions and even background animations. There were no far-out concepts, we were really leaving no ideas behind. A lot of our previous projects felt pretty corporate to us, so we thought it’d be fun if we changed it up a bit. At one point we even envisioned the video to be a humorous telenovela spoof with the entire video in Spanish.
We start the same way we’ve started every other project we’ve tackled. On a simple, kinda scratched up whiteboard. After brainstorming several ideas for the scene and transitions, we worked on our immaculately rendered drawings for future generations to see.
We’ve partnered up with the talented illustrator Pasquale Garibaldi to help bring our ideas to life. We really dug his work and felt that it’d be a perfect fit for our animation. It’s great to work with a likeminded artist to help realize your vision, and the video gets better as a result.
Despite the subheading above reading “animation”, the starting point and likely hardest part of the project was transferring all the illustrations into each composition, labeling, and preparing for animation. Some designs had to be modified or even self-made to work with our animation process. Attaching each limb and belt buckle to each character’s rig in one pose for that one frame. It was tedious work and we’re not even talking about animation yet.
The bane of every animator’s existence: walk cycles. It’s very easy to mess up if you don’t know what you’re doing, and the best walk cycles usually remain unnoticed. Since it’s one of those everyday things, even your average guy on the street can tell if a walking animation is off. Since we’re still not exactly masters of character animation (yet), we’ve recorded ourselves as a basis for our walking. Alongside experimentation and studying other animators works to see what makes one animation looks more lifelike than the other.
It wasn’t just the animation department that had to step up to bat, the sound department is usually the pinch-hitter of every video we produce. I’m joking of course 😐. But we’ve observed that some of our favorite animations we made would sound boring without sound effects or music. Since the rule of the project was to break all the rules, we decided to go with a more jazzy, laidback track for our background music.
And not on a whim either, we took a selection of 6 or so songs, and tried the animatic out with each one. And not just the music, we tried new things in our sound design as well. We even ran a version with every sound effect being accompanied with musical cues like a Hannah Barbara cartoon. Suffice to say, it didn’t go very far.
The End and the Beginning
Like every good project we’ve done, we learned a lot about our strengths and limitations. We even incorporated 3D models into some of our 2D scenes like the Café scene. And it’s not just the video itself! We even experimented with how we show it off to the world, moving to Vimeo for better implementation and user experience.
We have a lot more to improve, and we’ll never back down from a challenge. This was our best work yet, but then again, we say that for just about every video we do. And we intend to keep it that way.
It was awesome seeing all the reactions we got on Linkedin and Behance. Seeing others praise for our work let’s us know we’re on the right track.
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