I just burned through about five character-seconds of animation in about five days. That feels really good. It’s significantly faster than my general rate that I’ve been keeping up ever since I resumed keeping track in April. When I finish a scene I get to mark it off in the spreadsheet I created for the task, which always feels great. It’s all set up with color-changing fields that give me pleasant feedback when I finish a scene. They say, “Hey David, you’re doing a great job! Look how much you’ve done in the last five days!”
Part of what let me get through these two scenes so quickly was that I was able to re-use some stuff. For the first scene the framing was very similar to an earlier one, so setup was fast (pretty much just copy the previous scene’s file and the new scene is set up). For the second it was even better. I was able to use a side-view walk cycle that I created a long time ago for another scene, with only slight modifications.
One of the great advantages of Flash animation is the ability to adapt old animation for new scenes. That’s a major reason why it’s a good medium for television animation. When I worked on Foster’s we tried our hardest to find reuse for as many scenes as we could. We had libraries of walk cycles, character poses, hands, arms, legs, and endless gobs of uncategorized old scenes that the animation director was able to help us find if we needed them. The thing that’s great about it is that it’s not carved in stone. It’s pretty easy to make little tweaks to old animation in Flash. Need that old walk cycle but with the head looking to the side? No problem. Different lip sync? Easy.
Unfortunately reuse hasn’t been as helpful on Don’t Fear the Sitter, since it’s just this one episode. If I could stretch it out into a series that would be great, since I wouldn’t have to build the character models again, and I would have a bunch of reusable animation from the first one. I may some day try and figure out a way to adapt it into a series, particularly if the short ends up doing well on the festival circuit. If it comes to that, I’ll definitely be glad I made this thing in Flash.