Start with a sketch and then develop it into an animation that can be adapted to look great for HDTV, mobile phones and everything in-between.
As a character animator, you sometimes have the luxury of being able to design your character from scratch, work out how it will be animated, produce the hundreds of drawings needed, and compile them into a single production for a single medium.
More often - especially in these days of multiple formats, where video is cropping up everywhere from the internet to your mobile phone - characters start in one format and need to be repurposed for others. A web character might be needed for a cinema advert; a character developed for print might need to be transferred to TV; a video mobile ringtone might be required for a pop video, and so on. In this tutorial, we show you how to take a character which starts life as a simple sketch, turn it into an illustration using Illustrator and Photoshop, then develop it further into an animation. The character needs to go through a range of movements, and be placed into several different scenes which will be cut together to tell a story.
The final version then needs to be produced for a range of formats. We output the following animation as a video for HDTV and, at the other end of the scale, also produce it as a tiny file for playing back on mobile phones. In addition, we're going to produce a web version as a Macromedia Flash animation.
The rules of characterisation remain the same, but the different platforms need to be taken into account. For example, a 42-inch widescreen TV might be big enough to show fine details of a character's expression, but a 1-inch mobile-phone screen won't. Likewise, a video clip can have as many textures as you like, but a Flash animation will quickly become too large to download if you don't keep to flat areas of pure colour.