Labour Saving Animation with Lip-sync

        Category: # 6 Autumn 1983 | Article posted on: December 26, 2009

When all the words had been written in, I went back over the sheets and noted the mouth movements. I drew a chart of the nine mouth movements to be used and gave each one a number. Then by trying the words out in a mirror and finding the nearest mouth shapes on the chart I filled in the numbers on the exposure sheets. The letters where the lips meet, the b’s, m’s and p’s and the ones with distinctive shapes of 0 and W were the important ones to synchronise accurately as they are the ones that tend to he noticed the most; the others aren’t so critical.

The timing of the action animation was decided and filled in. It’s worth mentioning here that the pauses between movements can be as important as the movement itself. The hair combing sequence was five drawings hut the number of frames exposed for each drawing varied. The first drawing with the comb at the top of the hair was held for eight frames. Two drawings for the combing down action were double-framed. The final drawing of the down action was held for six frames, then a single drawing for the return action was double-framed, and so back to the first drawing and hold for eight frames.

Another aspect of smooth movement is the way an action is divided up. To make an object accelerate, the movement phases are drawn close to­gether at the start and are spaced progressively wider. To bring the movement to a smooth stop, the phases get closer again.

Three levels of cels were used for most of the film, although the number went up to four when the woman moved her arms to describe something and for a hair combing sequence when the man was also in the picture. Each cel has a slight darkening effect, so to keep the colour constant a blank cal was substituted when the action went from four layers down to three.

The final cel count was only fifty-four, and these drawings were spread over one thousand seven hundred frames of film.

The two backgrounds were done in poster colour on thick paper. The one for the walking scene was a long strip which was moved along to give the impression of the camera panning with the man. The foot of the drawing out­side the camera area was marked off in steps equal to the man’s forward move­ment. This was later moved against a fixed marker on the rostrum baseboard.

When doing rostrum camera work I follow a set procedure so that if I’m distracted I can easily determine the next move. Each frame is marked off on the sheet as soon as it is exposed, then in case of doubt a cross check can be made between the cel number on the rostrum and the exposure sheet to see what the next step should be.

The first frame exposed was an X to correspond with the sync mark on the tape. Then followed some blank frames up to the start of the titles. The first scene was the walking cycle of eight cels.

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