Living in a Disney Animation Documentary

Sharon - UCLA Animation

Sharon - UCLA Animation

My friend Sharon is finishing up her Master’s in the UCLA Animation department.

Yesterday, she gave me a tour of her department.

Fascinating stuff.  I kept saying that it was exactly like being in a Disney documentary, like the things you would watch on the 2nd DVD.

Ever see a pencil-test machine?  You put down your drawings, then take pictures of each, and it runs the pictures, making the drawings move.  A fairly simple concept, but profoundly interesting when you see static drawings come to life.

The whole place was cool, as an outsider.  Seeing how much work goes into it all make me quite clear that my perspective was very different than the perspective of the students therein.  We visited after midnight on a Sunday and there were 3 people working hard in the room.  Sharon told me how you used to be able to find one of her classmates’ sleeping bags under his desk.

The decor was perfect.  When you first walk into the building, on the first floor (Animation is on the 2nd) you just see various movie posters, with some signatures from alums (all the movies have alums involved and are pretty much any random big Hollywood movie).  Animation is immediately different, with the posters being replaced by those of animated flicks, as well as various jokes/advice for the artists (some of which made sense, such as only drawing every 3/4 frames, which Sharon explained was all that was necessary to trick the eye into believing that the drawings were moving).  And, of course, everyone work desks were filled with little toys/dolls of characters from animated TV/movies.

Apparently, my sense of it being very Disney wasn’t very far off.  The old slanted desks are from Disney, from Snow White or one of the other classics.  And that’s apropos, because you can feel the history and the fact that these are people that will create the future dreams of children and adults alike.


One Response to Living in a Disney Animation Documentary

  1. Sharon says:

    I have one note, on how many frames are drawn when animating. For my thesis film I am drawing/rotoscoping every fourth frame, as Roni said. It’s a choice I made that works with the style I came up with and creates less work for myself in the long run.

    If film is 24 frames per second, then most people animate on 2s. This means that for every second of film going by, there are 12 drawings, each one held for 2 frames before being replaced by the next drawing. Animating on 3s and 4s is less work for the animator, and can work fine depending on the style of animation, but the action never looks as smooth as animation that’s on 1s or 2s.

    On the subject of whether the best animation is on 1s, 2s, 3s, etc. the great Richard Williams, director of animation on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, is known for saying, “Life is on Ones..”

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