Omg guys. This is exciting. why? Because I get to show you my one true love. The thing I love to do the most in this world:
Animation made by me to be specific. Featuring some pretty annoyingly adorable cat creatures, and a little girl who meets an unexpected playmate.
I created this shortfilm during my Classical Animation year at Vancouver Film School back in 2012-13. Although it is a bit dated by now, and student work to boot, this little film will probably always have a special place in my heart.
I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it ~♡
Why it is special
It was the first time that I learned what I was capable of, in an intense 12 months at VFS. It was the year I learned just how much I love this medium, the year I became sure that I was meant for this industry and that I will quite happily spend the rest of my life animating and telling stories. The year I truly found my place in the world.
It is also the only real traditionally animated project I have, because I later specialised in 3D animation, as the jobs in 2D, unfortunately, are a bit sparse at the moment.
But since I will always remain a 2D girl at heart, this project is precious to me.
I also think it still holds up, despite me having a lot more animation experience now.
The little critters too, the Mocafurbs hold a special significance in my life. I even have one tattooed haha.
What the hell are "Mocafurbs"?!
Mocafurbs, in case you are curious, actually stands for Monster Cat Fur Balls, which, essentially, is what they are: Balls of fur with feline features and personality traits (that's also where the "monster" in the name comes from XD ).
I created the little devils a long time ago, very randomly. I was doodling for a mural I was commissioned to do at the time (a commission that ended up falling through, ironically). The person wanted a fun, monster themed wall in her garden, so I was doodling little monsters in my sketchbook, and BAM, out of nowhere, these little beasties appeared.
I've been drawing them ever since, and they somewhat became my mascots as well as a symbol for my artistic ambitions in life.
I love them, and they're my staple doodle when signing a card or anything like that. Sort of like my trademark. I should really start drawing them more again, they really deserve some art of their own. (Also, they're actually hilarious. constantly up to some type of mischief.)
Here's a little line drawing of them all piled up on branches of their home-tree.
Let me know if you'd be interested in seeing more of the little critters. ;)
Tools of the trade - how was it done?
Mocafurbs is a traditionally animated (also called 2D animation or classical animation) film.
This means that everything you see on screen has been hand drawn with pencil on paper, on an animation desk. In other words the old-school way.
even working at home~ :P
The all important persistence of vision
To understand how traditional animation is done, you need to understand what persistence of vision is.
It's very simple really. Persistence of vision, in non-scientific terms, is the phenomenon which makes your brain pick up a bunch of individual images and interpret them as movement instead of single images, because they flash by too fast to separate.
One of the oldest and most famous examples are the famous Muybridge photographs. The guy was fascinated by things in motion and he set out to answer the age old question of whether or not a horse in gallop ever leaves the ground with all four hooves. (spoiler: it does)
He set up a row of cameras along a track which would go off one after the other to capture every part of the movement while a jockey galloped by with his trusty steed.
This experiment had an unintended side effect.
It was one of the accidental discoveries that led to the invention of Film.
Think about it, what is the slightly old-timey name for movies?
Pictures in Motion.
In fact, don't you think movie sounds a hell of a lot like a cutsey abbreviation of moving pictures? ;)
That is what persistence of vision is. It's what makes our brain take one of the (awesome) Muybridge photograph sequences:
Image source. this is also where you can read more about the debate concerning the gallop of a horse
And, when displayed very fast one after the other and looped, see this instead:
It's basically your brain going "f * ck no. Can't process this sh * t, buddy. Here, have a muddled version instead."
Kinda hilarious if you think about it. One of the most beloved things in pretty much everybody's lives: film and television (and anything that moves on a screen basically, so your fancy new app and your beloved cat Gifs are included in this) only exists because we've learned to exploit the inaccuracy of our internal information processor: the brain.
How this applies to 2D animation
Traditional 2D animation (and really any film at all) works exactly the same. It's essentially a bunch of images displayed very fast one after the other to create the illusion of motion.
This means a hell of a lot of drawing. Check out the size of 2 of my longest scenes:
That, in turn, means hard-core dedication, the need to really love what you're doing, and an iron will to fight through this kind of crap:
how am I ever gonna make it?
But if you love it, truly love it, you power through and you end up surprising yourself.
So what happens with all those drawings?
Simply put, everything gets scanned in, including the backgrounds, then it's coloured and the single scenes put together in a compositing software.
It's all a tad more complicated than that of course, but let's leave the in depth explanations for another time. this post is already wayyyy longer than initially planned XD XD
colouring one of the scene backgrounds in good old trusty photoshop
to the left, a "compositing tree" in ToonBoom Harmony. Told ya it's a tad more complicated :P
After that, the different scenes get exported again as image sequences (again, those moving pictures) and put into an editing software, where everything gets edited together.
Then music and Sound Design is added: We were lucky enough to have an in-house Sound Designer at VFS who was very good at his job.
Also, random fun fact: I voiced the Mocafurbs and Penny, the little girl ;D
When all of that and more is finally done, it gets exported into a movie file, and voilà, a short film is born!
Alrighty folks, I hope you enjoyed this slightly lengthier than planned post and sneak peak into how a 2D short film is made.
I would super appreciate a little comment on whether or not you enjoyed this post, if the length was ok or too much, and if you would be interested in a slightly more in-depth view of the different stages of "the making of a short film" perhaps.
Any feedback is more than welcome and appreciated.
I shall leave you with some photos of what a 2D animation workstation looks like ;)
until the next time.