Some New Principles for the Digital Age

 At this point in the talk, Kerlow indicated that the 3D animation industry may need some additional principles, for areas that weren’t relevant in Walt Disney’s time. He suggested the following:


1. Visual Styling


 This refers to the importance of developing a look that is feasible to produce at all levels of production. Anime, for instance, makes heavy use of the “language of cinema” to tell its stories, with many visual FX and camera movement, but often little in the way of animation. Kerlow showed parts of The Ghost in the Shell to demonstrate.



 2. Blending Cartoons w/ Real World

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 With modern technology, we can blending together many different sources of motion. The key, especially with motion capture, is to add intention to physical performances, so that a clear motion style emerges in the mocap data. Without intention, motion capture will make for characters that lack any defining style of movement – a problem that manifested in the static (non-action) scenes of Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within.


3. Cinematography

 With 3D animation packages, we now have absolute control over camera and lighting conditions in a scene. Mastering these two aspects of production can lead to scenes that are visually very powerful. (Example: the “roller coaster” scene from Monsters, Inc. The scene was largely effective because of skillful camera animation.)


4. Facial Animation

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 Animators must determine what level of facial control and facial animation styling will work for the various levels of production. Kerlow suggested building a reusable catalogue of facial morph target, similar to extant libraries of walk and run cycles, with particular attention paid to eye animation close-ups.



5. Interactive Control

 Unique to the game industry, this principle refers to the effective integration of animation with interactivity. Important points to focus on are walk cycles, building of anticipation, creating built-in character intelligence, and setting up reaction shots.

Kerlow concluded by stating that using these animation principles will allow people in the industry to create increasingly believable characters, and increasingly believable situations in which to put them. As has been the case with traditional animation for the past seventy years, planning and directing with the twelve (or seventeen) principles in mind will allow for efficient character creation at every level of production.


6. The KISS Principle

Keep it Simple, Stupid. As you’re not only going to have to build, but animate your character it pays not to go overboard on design. Try to keep your designs simple, elegant and above all workable.


7. Development

A strong main character is essential to an animated production. For your main character to be strong, you have to know them inside and out. This is where acting plays a huge part in animation.



Use the force – the knowledge and thinking you have developed and used should be part of every character in your animation. An excellent main character will sometimes save a poor animation, but a good supporting cast will always help to create a good one. Remember to act out your character as often as possible, become as one with your creations.