Long ago in an office far, far away, creatives could work on an island.
Sorry, we’re not talking a literal island, but high five if you work from a tiki bar on the beach. Rather, we’re talking islands of designers and islands of developers. Who could forget Animator Island and Editor Island?
But in today’s creative environment, we aren’t only milling away on our own and handing off files. We are constantly learning a second or third skill to communicate better with and understand our fellow artists.
So to set you on the right path, here are some great resources to help you get inside an animator’s head. They will no doubt make you a better designer, developer, or editor.
The Animator’s Survival Kit
Award-winning animator Richard Williams wrote the book that almost every animation program uses in the classroom. The Animator’s Survival Kit digs into the animation principles as well as further tips and techniques for animating.
The book is mostly theory and examples, so it won’t teach you any software. But that’s exactly what you need when starting out. Learn the art before the tools.
Timing for Animation
“Getting an object to have a sense of weight, size, scale, motion and humor has to do with how you move an object,” writes John Lasseter in the foreword for Timing for Animation. “The computers don’t create animation for the animator — the animator still needs knowledge of the principles of timing in order to make the computer animation come alive.”
Again, art before tools. Now, once you’ve got a solid foundation of the principles, dive into some of the programs you may use. You won’t need to know all of the software I mention below right away, but you might hear about them when learning more about motion graphics.
Chances are if you’re getting into motion graphics, you will be starting with After Effects. If you’re familiar with Photoshop and Illustrator, you have a head start since After Effects has many of the same basic tools.
Want to cut down on back-and-forth revisions with your development team? Save time by learning the basics to do sample animations for websites or UI.
Depending how far you get into motion graphics, you might be called upon to do some video editing. Premiere (among other programs) is designed to help you edit footage with an easier workflow and interface. Pro tip from me? Don’t edit your video in After Effects.
If you need some 3D elements created, Maxon’s Cinema 4D is an excellent resource. On creative cloud? Note that a lite version comes with After Effects CC. There are tiers of C4D, so you have options to get a program that fits your needs. It also offers amazing compatibility with After Effects for putting elements together and doing compositing work.
With all of the programs I’ve mentioned to get started on, you’ll definitely need tutorials to help guide you. The online animation and motion graphics community offers many amazing sites, but here are a few of my favorites:
School of Motion
School of Motion might be your best bet if you are getting started in motion graphics. Much of their content focuses on After Effects, animation principles and has a ton of information such as interviews, project breakdowns and even bootcamp courses for you to learn with other students and network.
Andrew Kramer at Video Copilot has put together quite the collection of tutorials for After Effects. There is a wide range of animation, compositing and video lessons. Andrew also created a good variety of presets and free files, so you can dig deeper if you wish.
Greyscalegorilla is a great site for learning Cinema 4D. There is a ton of 3D content that covers the scope of 3D work from texturing, animating, rigging and more. Plenty for you to get started.
Hopefully this all helps get you started! Fellow animators: Got any other tips or tricks for our design friends? Designers: Need any other recommendations? Tweet me @chrisreanimated.