Thursday, 23 April 2015

How Do Pixar Animators Thumbnail Their Shots?

The secret of good animation lies in the planning, and experienced animators know that by drawing clear thumbnails to plan out their work, they can save a ton of time in executing their shots.

But learning how to thumbnail your shots isn't easy.  One animator who has almost all of his planning sketches is Pixar's Victor Navone, and you can see his thumbnail gallery here.

Victor's gallery is a great resource because you can see how much planning he has put into his shots. Each one is carefully thought through long before he starts making poses in Maya. It's a great way to work - takes a little extra time up front, before you get started, but it will save you loads of time later on as you wrestle with your key poses in Maya.

The basic approach to thumbnailing your work is this:

1. Think about the shot; try to visualise it in your head. Try to see it as a movie in your head
2. Act it out. Film your self acting out the scene, and use this footage to find the key poses.
3. Draw thumbnail sketches based either on your imagination or (best of all) on your acting. Make sure the thumbnail sketches tell the story of the shot. Ask yourself, if you showed the thumbnail sketches to your Mum - would she understand what was going on, without having the action explained to her?
4. Finally, use your thumbnail sketched to create your key poses in Maya.


To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link. For more information on finding work and surviving in the animation and visual effects business, read our post on how to find a job in the animation industry, and check out our post about what not to do at a job interview. Also see our post on starting your own small animation business, learn how to create an invoice, and see how we arehelping our students find work through our film co-operative Nano Films. Download the free Escape Studios Careers in VFX Handbook. Take a look at how can help you find a job, and read our piece about how to survive as a freelance animator. Also, find out what Cinesite look for in a student's demo reel, and read our post on setting up your own animation business. Also see our post about freelancers and taxes.

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