Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Timing And Spacing

How are you doing? My names are Kenway Afam Oforeh, I’m the founding C.E.O of a company called EuphoRya! Entertainment. 
Let me see if I can interest you to know me better. I studied at the Lagos State University (I should have just said LASU abi?) and I have a B.sc in Chemical/polymer engineering, which makes me a chemical engineer by profession. But in my heart I’m an entrepreneur, a businessman and an animator. I’m not yet as good as I want to be in any of those endeavors but I’ll continue to push until I get to my destination. Because of the opportunities I have seen in the Nigerian T.V. terrain, I’m building a company (EuphoRya! Entertainment)that will develop and provide quality TV media contents. 

We will be making a debut with an animated T.V. content called KINETIC, 



I’ll save that for later. We also offer training in classical animation at a very affordable rate. 
Prior to this time we have been in the background creating animated contents for clients like MUSIC AFRICA, LASTMA, MTECH etc.
It is about time we came to the fore front. It hasn’t been easy and there are times I have always wanted to “throw in the towel” but hey!! I love what I do.
At the risk of appearing arrogant I strongly feel I was born to animate. I don’t know if that is actually true but I believe it anyway, very strongly for that matter. Maybe it is because of the love I have for it that I can stay long enough at an animating challenge for hours sometimes even days or weeks or months (in one particular case a year..Yes o!..that’s for real) enough to conquer it . With that attitude I was able to teach myself in 5 years. If I had a teacher it would have been a lot shorter.
Even though I have been animating for years (as young as 5) by drawing on, and flipping the, pages of text books; yes I drew on all the pages of my father’s professional books and created animations (by flipping the pages, do you know how to do that?) with them and boy!!... did I get some ass-whooping and pile-drivers (Oh!..my father was a bear- wrestler in Siberia...just kidding) I actually started professionally in 2006.
Back then, we were able to secure a 2-year deal with MTECH communications (A mobile phone VAS company) to develop mobile phone contents which they would supply to MTN’s WAP portal -for MTN loaded. One of the items we were required to produce were short video flicks for phones. With very little knowledge of, animation concepts and, the software at hand (we were using flash then) we set to work. We were required to produce five animated shorts but due to some start-up challenges we ended up producing just three. One of the animated shorts we created became very popular on mobile phones and internet (youtube). I called it Omofunky
                                                            
Anyway, we felt like heroes after we completed that flick and also when it became famous. 
Then one day I sat down to review it and then compared it to a Disney cartoon. I saw the crystal clear difference in the quality. At that moment all the feeling of achievement I had, vanished. I was thrown into a frenzy and almost running mad (like Yaba psychiatry mad). I was asking all sorts of questions “How do I make my animation like a Disney animation?”, “How do I make international standard animation?” , “How do I create smooth convincing animation?”. How, how, how.... I was beginning to sound like an egbene-kuku bird. I don’t even know what that is; I heard about it from my mother. Then one day I stumbled on the answer.


            ....IT IS ABOUT TIMING AND SPACING.


“What the heck does that mean?”  That precisely, was my response and maybe, very likely, will be yours as well. I always thought animation was about just drawing the same character in different and changing positions to produce movement. No doubt you will have to produce movement but you will have to produce movement that is compelling and convincing (not necessarily realistic but convincing) to the audience.  To do that you’ll have to master the concepts of timing and spacing. That is to be a professional animator, the concepts must become second nature to you. Please do not think of it as complex mathematics. It is nowhere close to that. All it requires is determination and common sense. Traits that you have already (I hope..LOL). 
Mastery of this simple concept will help you create animations of international standard. Animations you can use in real-live movies (nollywood needs your help), cartoons, games, special effects, ETC. As long as it involves change on a time-line, you must master timing and spacing to create compelling animations. 
Below is an example of timing and spacing applied. I’m going to show you how we can use timing and spacing to change the look and feel of a bouncing ball. Even if you do not understand please just note. After a while, constant usage will help you, that’s what learning is about. No need to cram it into your head, just note it. Please look at the diagram below. 
This is a classic Richard Williams example of a regular bouncing soccer ball. Please note that what I’m depicting in all my examples is the different positions of the ball at different times. 



Watch the result below
video


Notice where the ball is touching the ground (Boink!). That is the timing. Observe how at some point the positions of the ball overlap each other (when slowing down) and at some other point they space out (moving fast). That is the spacing. That wasn’t so difficult was it?

By changing the timing and spacing of this same soccer ball and we can create the illusion that it is heavy.  Please see below.        


video

Please observe the time interval (timing) of the bounce. Observe how the position of the ball is spaced out when it is falling (since it is heavy it is fast.) and how it is spaced closely when it begins to slow down after bouncing. 

There is just no way a regular ball and a heavy ball can bounce (and move) with the same timing or the same spacing.

Again by changing the timing and spacing of this same soccer ball we can create the illusion that it is very light.  This is what Nigerians call a Fele Fele ball...LOL. Please see below   
video
  
Mastery of this simple concept will help you create very compelling animations. Animations you can use in live movies (Nollywood needs your help..Michael Jackson "bad"), cartoons, games, special effects, ETC. As long as it involves change on a time-line, you must master timing and spacing to create compelling animations. The result of this is more convincing movement and not bland ones like i used to create before now.
Because things always start from a state of rest, gradually move, gain speed and then slow down before they come to a complete stop. Like I said even if you do not understand please just note it. From constant usage you’ll grasp the concept sooner or later. No software can help you with this, instead you can help the software with it. Please understand that software does not create animation; you do, the software is just a tool; you are the animator.While we are on the issue of software, I strongly recommend a software called....



     ANIME STUDIO PRO.

In my opinion it is the best 2.5D (yes 2.5D i’ll explain later) software in the market. ANIME STUDIO PRO is primarily a 2D software but has the capacity to handle 3D objects and characters to a certain limit. In my company we use ANIME STUDIO PRO 8. i'll be showing you how to use Anime Studio Pro to solve animation problems. 2D is still my preferred medium of expression. Like I keep saying, once you understand the animation concepts and principles, any medium of expression you choose is fine (2D, 3D, Claymation, Stop–motion, motion–capture etc.). I’m coming to you at a critical time because the Nigerian animation industry is developing but not yet consolidated. And as you know it is the people who get into an endeavour first that reap a good part of the reward. Nigerian T.V. needs you, the Nigerian advertising industry needs you, hell even Nollywood will soon need you. 

If a person does not prepare for his success, when the opportunity comes it will only make him look foolish - Earl Nightingale.

If you put a gun to my head and ask me to draw, you’ll probably kill me twice: I can’t draw to save my life. Part of the reasons it took me 5 years to learn the basics, apart from the fact I had to learn it on my own. If you already possess the basic skill an animator needs: drawing / illustration skills and a good sense of human anatomy then you clearly have an advantage.

Adding animation skills will give you more options (strong options) in the society. More options make you stronger. I can show you the basics and principles in a profound manner in about 4 months (if you are serious and at a very fair price that at that if you are in Lagos, Nigeria ). But the time frame to master the concepts depends totally on you. 
At the risk of sounding critical your artistic skills alone may not be enough to help you out there in the real world. The days of just creating art works and auctioning them to the highest bidder are seriously numbered. You will need to harness your skill to the next level. Animation is the next level.
If you would like to see some of the jobs we have done here is a link to my Youtube channel. 


          The Kenway's Youtube Channel (please subscribe or add me as a friend)

Keep a date with me every fortnight as I guide you to become a master animator, If you need more explanation please holla at me. In my next post I'll be dealing with extremes, breakdowns, and keys, till then please enjoy the rest of days ahead.