Animation Tips and Tricks | 2 | WebReference

Animation Tips and Tricks | 2

Animation Tips and Tricks

4. A key issue in storyboard design is complexity, which was a common problem encountered by many of my animation students. Often, they would design animations that were beautiful in theory, but impossible to complete in the time available. Whenever possible, keep it simple. If necessary, you can always add detail later.

5. When working with polygonal meshes, consider reducing the number of vertices to define the image. As an example, Maya 5 makes use of the Polygon Reduction Tool which allows you to decimate the model but retains detail, so the reduced model is as close to the original as possible. This will reduce file sizes and is useful for gamers. If you’re using a 2D application to create your shapes (such as Adobe Illustrator 10, or the Corel KPT 6 plug-in), these applications offer a command to reduce the number of points in a path. Finally, when placing an animation on your web site, give the viewers an idea of the file size so they can determine if they want to watch it or not. This is especially important for users with slower modems.

6. When working in 3D, reduce geometric complexity for objects that are further away in a scene. At a distance, such detail is not likely to be discernable by the eye.

7. When objects are in motion, the eye is not able to discern information one would normally see in a still image and is much more forgiving. This means that details can be further reduced.

8. In 3D applications, lines and facets can appear on an object that points away from the viewer. Turning these off reduces image complexity and rendering time. Also, turning off anti-aliasing will speed up rendering. The down side is that the edges will appear jagged, but this may not affect your animation.

9. As with vector images, it's important to reduce the number of points and not to rely totally on geometry alone to define create an object. A better option is make use of image maps, which create the illusion of geometry while reducing the file size. One note of caution: be careful how you use image maps, as they can bloat your file sizes as well. Until the bandwidth issue is resolved, keep file sizes as small as possible. This issue becomes even more important when you consider that many users still use 56.6Kbps modems.

10. One method for compressing image maps or bitmaps is "Weighted Optimization," available in Photoshop 6/7 and ImageReady 3/7. Weighted Optimization uses an alpha channel to vary compression settings across an image. For areas where quality is important, you use a lower compression, and in areas such as sky, you use a higher compression. The end result is an image of a small size but certain areas are of a high quality. Weighted Optimization gives you control over GIF dithering, lossy GIF settings and JPEG compression.

The above tips will help you make wise decisions about animation aesthetics, implementation, storyboarding and optimization, without sacrificing quality. Future articles will cover reviews of different 3D applications such as Deep UV, Poser 5 and more, as well as tutorials on various aspects of 3D.








Created: June 5, 2003
Revised: Sept. 4, 2003