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Why Your Animation Isn’t Meeting Feature Film Standards


Feature Reel: Nicolas Joly

So you just watched this reel and you're thinking, "Wow, why don't my animations look like that?" You're not alone. It's common for animators, whether they're beginners or experienced professionals, to notice a gap between their work and the quality seen in animated feature films.

Here are some tips to help close the gap!

The Subtlety of Acting


Feature film animators, really take their time perfecting their craft. They spend years getting feedback from directors and mastering the ability to bring out emotions with all those tiny, subtle details. I'm talking about stuff like a character's head tilting just right or the smallest twitch of an eyebrow – it's like their secret sauce for conveying deep emotions.

Dedicate more time to studying real-life emotions. Try people-watching at a park or watching films with the sound off to capture the essence of silent expressions.

Overdoing the Basics


Sometimes, in an attempt to make our animations lively, we over-animate. Characters might move too much, or every single word in a dialogue has a major action attached to it.

Remember the adage: "Less is more." Allow the character to breathe. It's okay for them to be still at times.

Skipping the 'Polish' Phase


A classic rookie mistake! After blocking and splining, the 'polish' phase helps refine the animation. Polish can mean cleaning an arc, or changing a pose completely... Many bypass this, eager to finish.

Be patient. Go through the animation frame by frame. Iron out those glitches, refine those arcs, and perfect that timing.

Realistic Physics


We all know how things move in the real world, right? Humans, animals, and even everyday objects follow certain rules of motion, and we're pretty familiar with gravity too. So, when your animation doesn't quite nail these aspects, it's like a glaring 'oops' moment that can totally break the believability factor.

Brush up on basic physics. Tools and plugins can help, but your discerning eye (and understanding) makes the real difference.

Ignoring the Details


Tiny background elements, secondary actions, or even the flutter of a curtain in sync with a character's movement – details make a scene alive.

Once your main animation is done, focus on the environment. How does it react to your main action? Can you add a subtle shake on a cup as your character slams the door?

He is a great example by Lupin House student Brian R. Martinez. Watch closely, you can see many details like the carpet moving from the wind of the door. These are things to pay attention to that lift the quality of your animation.

Not Getting Feedback


We often get too close to our work, making it hard to spot mistakes or areas for improvement. Don't go it alone. Our mentors, actively working on feature films with top studios like Pixar, Disney, Sony, Illumination, and more, are here to help! You can apply to work personally with our mentors and start one of our flexible mentorships when you are ready!

Meeting feature film standards isn't just about fancy tools or years of experience. It's about understanding emotions, and storytelling.

Remember, every animator started just like you. With passion and persistence, your animations can reach the quality seen in a feature film too.

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