Animation 101

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Hello, hello!

I’m Glenn Lazo and I’m one of the animators here at IguanaBee. No, my job is not to animate the company’s events, nor to cheer people up when they’re feeling down. My job is to take characters designed by Cristián and bring them to life. You may be thinking: “What an easy job to do, you just move the parts and you’re done”. In that case let me tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong.

In the world of animation there are many things to take into account: how people move, what makes things interact, what moves first and what moves after that, how far back a person leans before moving forward and much more. For example, a recent problem I had was while animating our game Whacky Escape!, where all these whackos escape from their cells. As all whackos are so different from each other, I had to adapt each running style to each character.

One walk is fabulous, the other one is tough. Which is which?

Obviously, someone obsessed with Cleopatra is not going to run just like someone obsessed with the military. The first one is a subtle walk, with more grace, while the second one is a tough and straight run, almos square. You have to take into account each character’s personality while animating, because we are all different and, believe it or not, we all walk, run and act differently.

In other instance I had to animate the Pirate from Whacky Escape! I realized he had a wooden leg and, of course, he could not walk as a “normal” person. In that moment I froze. I asked myself: “How am I going to animate someone with a wooden leg in a way it looks real?”. That when I had to use my knowledge and started walking as if I had a wooden leg, limping. Needless to say, everybody in the office looked at me funny and asked me what was wrong. But after this little acting moment I realized what your body does when you are limping, like dragging the leg, a foot moving faster than the other, your body falls more when leaning in the wooden leg, etc. All these little moments together let me achieve a limping running pirate.


But my job is not only to animate for video games, because I also have to create their trailers, as I did for both Whacky Escape! and Arkna. This is what takes more time and helps me as an animator and, above all, as a audiovisual communicator. The hardest part is to think in the best way to explain something in as little time as possible or with as little work as possible, always mantaining the integrity of a great project. You may think this is being lazy, however this is how animation works; a project requieres so much effort and dedication that you have to find ways to do it faster, but without losing quality. There’s the difference between a versatile animator and a mediocre one.

Esto es lo que más tiempo requiere y me ayudan a mí como animador y, más que nada, como comunicador audiovisual. Lo más difícil es pensar en la mejor forma de explicar algo en el menor tiempo posible o con la menor cantidad de trabajo, siempre manteniendo la integridad de un gran proyecto. Quizás crean que es la salida del flojo, sin embargo, así es el mundo de la animación; un trabajo que requiere tanto esfuerzo y dedicación, que hay que encontrar formas de hacerlo más rápido, pero sin que pierda su calidad y ahí es donde se diferencia un animador versátil de uno mediocre.

We all have professional goals. This is mine.

This is the trailer for The Beatles: Rock Band. At first sight it’s perfect; however, watching it critically we can see where the director reuses animations or backgrounds. For example, in the first shot of the city, many of the rooftops are constantly being multiplied; each take where The Beatles are playing is exactly the same animation; in the final 3D animation all the characters have the exact same animations and are multiplied many times. These are obviously details the general public won’t notice, as they are visible to the trained eye of the animator with certain experience, so it doesn’t retract from the amazing quality of the trailer. so in the end this is my goal: to fool you.

My first professional work, Whacky Escape!’s trailer.

The world of animation is difficult, slow, tedious and stressful, but I swear that it doesn’t get better than seeing those characters that were once still as statues that, after passing through your hands, are brought to life. It’s a very Dr. Frankenstein-like thing to say, but it’s true; the first time I animated in 2D and 3D I felt a “I’ve created life!” that keeps on motivating me even today. And of coure, the good vibes you get from people when they see your work is always a great motivator!

What do you think about this Arkna trailer? Leave your comments below!

Finally, if you are interested in the world of animation, you may start by reading the book Drawn to Life or the animator’s bible: The Animator’s Survival Kit (also available in video format). And the most essential part is, simply, to start animating right away. You don’t need to be the best drawing, nor the best technically at animating, you just need to be motivated.

I leave you with one of the greatest influences in me, Team Fortress 2 and its last video: Meet The Medic.

Excellent example of animation, modelling, script and… EVERYTHING!

Glenn Lazo

Glenn Lazo

Animator at IguanaBee (of characters, not parties). Born as an afro with legs; raised as a human being. Strange mythological creature not a fan of chocolate that feeds on Coca-Cola. They say his afro is a little universe.

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