Perception 製作過程分享|How I made Perception

A styleframe from “Perception.”

Perception 是我的研究所畢業製作,全長2分鐘,以 2D Motion Graphics 風格描述一個女孩自我探索的過程,除了抽象及非線性的敘事方式以外,這次專案中我最想嘗試的便是將逐格動畫與向量風格做結合,希望呈現屬於自己的風格。

Perception is my final M.A. project at SCAD. It is a 2 minute animation about a girl and her exploration of life. In this project, I wanted to tell a story in an abstract and non-linear way through a mix of vectors and cel-animation to create a unique visual style.

使用軟體 Software | Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects
製作時間 Production Time | 約12週/About 12 Weeks
影片長度 Duration | 2分鐘/2 minutes

“Perception” is about a girl and her exploration of life.

關於角色 | About The Character

酪梨蘋果沙拉設定。Avocado Apple Salad (Character Design).

此專案的主角酪梨蘋果沙拉是我在之前的專案 Paradox 創造的角色,Paradox 是一系列短動畫的合集,用有趣的角色表演呈現各種常見的情緒,關於製作過程在我的網站有更多說明。

The main character of this project — Avocado Apple Salad — was created while I was making Paradox, which was an animation that portrayed common human emotions through multiple characteristics. For more details of this project, please check my website.

Paradox 完成後,我認為這個角色及其帶點抽象的表現形式還有很多發展空間,於是決定沿用此風格發展更完整的故事,同時想將 Paradox 的片段穿插在新的故事之中,讓兩個作品有所連結,於是 Perception 的概念就大致成形了。

After finishing Paradox, I found that there was more I could do with that character and the style it presented. So I decided to extend the idea and created another project with Avocado Apple Salad, but with a more concrete concept.

That aside, I also wanted to show the animations from Paradox again in the new project to connect these two works and add more fun! That was the original intent of Perception.


關於前製 | About Design

☞ 分鏡 Storyboard

The final storyboard.

確定風格及故事大致方向之後,便是繪製 Storyboard,由於這次專案的概念是創造出角色在不同世界探索及穿梭的過程,我把每一卡的數字用不同顏色區分,把類似風格用相同顏色標出,方便之後配色參考。

在此階段除了決定主要動態視覺動線之外,我也會定出哪些部分將以逐格(cel-animation)製作,哪些為Ae動畫,這部分在下段文章會有更詳細的說明。

Since the concept and story were decided, the next part was to create the storyboard. The narrative of the project focused on showing the character traveling through several different worlds. To separate those styles, I used multiple colors to distinguish the various scenes. The same colors mean that those scenes are from the same world, so they will be in the same style. It makes it easier to create styleframes.

Following that, I would decide the primary motion and the hierarchy in each scene to decide which part would be created by cel-animation, and which would be done in After Effects (Ae).


☞ 定稿 Styleframes

左圖為Ai向量製作,右圖為Ps手繪。The left pic is made by Illustrator, and the right is by Photoshop.

分鏡結束之後便是將每一卡完整定稿(styleframes)都畫出來,這部分我主要使用Ai及Ps進行製作,向量的部分使用Ai,方便之後匯入Ae製作動態,其他需要逐格的部分則是先用Ps繪製,再丟進Ai合成。

For the styleframes I used both Illustrator (Ai) and Photoshop (Ps). Most of the vector parts are done in Ai. For the cel-animation ones, I draw them in Ps first before importing it to Ai.

左圖及右圖人物部分為Ps手繪,其他皆為Ai向量製作。 The character in the left and right pics are drawn in Ps. All the other part are made in Ai.
每個小框中的角色為Ps手繪(沿用Paradox的片段),再匯進Ai合成。The characters are drawn in Ps (they are clips from “Paradox”)and imported to Ai to composite.

這個階段最重要的便是確定色系、細節, 以及是否有整體感、構圖是否足夠多元等等,同時也要將每一卡的轉場方式想好,規劃得越詳盡,之後要修改的部分就會越少,動態製作也會更加順利。

It is important to show the final layout and color in the styleframes. Because that helps me see if they have enough details and consistency. The more efforts made in this step, the fewer the things needed to change during animation.


關於製作 | About Animation

☞ 動態腳本 Animatic

在真正開始做動態之前,我會先製作動態腳本。

動態腳本的目的是確定每一段的鏡位、長度、以及主要的動態,我主要用Ae製作,把之前定稿的Ai檔匯進Ae整理,逐格的部分則先用靜態圖平移來表示,完成之後再把每個包含逐格的片段單獨輸出、並匯進Ps對著時間軸繪製逐格,因此在這個階確定每段的時間長度是很重要的。

Before diving into the cel-animation, I will create an animatic first.

The animatic is to help finalize the camera movement, duration, and primary animation of each scene. I imported all the styleframes from Ai and organized them in Ae. Since the cel-animation was not created yet, I will sample the position change of the still image to get the idea. After that, I export each scene separately and import it into Ps so I could follow the timeline of the animatic to do cel-animation.

在此再推薦一次神器 Overlord,用了它之後Ai圖層匯進Ae簡直像喝水一樣簡單!
I use the script Overlord which works amazingly if you want to import an Ai file into Ae. I highly recommend it!
其中兩段動態腳本,用來確定鏡頭移動的速度跟大致的動態。In the animatic, I set up the camera movement and the duration.

此外,由於這次專案有跟作曲家合作,確定整體時間長度的動態腳本完成後,對方便能根據大略的動態開始規劃音樂及音效。

I cooperated with a composer in this project. After the animatic is finished, I was able to send it to him so he could determine the duration of each segment to start making the music and sound effects.


☞ 逐格動畫 Cel-animation

接著便是這次專案最關鍵的部分:將逐格動畫結合進向量風格中。

首先,為了風格統一,整部影片我都採用15fps的影格數,確保逐格動畫在整體動態之中不會有明顯的停頓或不順,接著便開始將先前完成的動態腳本匯入Ps之中開始繪製,草稿、清稿、上色全都在Ps完成,最後再分層輸出。逐格動畫是最花時間的一部份,我大約花了4~5週才繪製完所有需要的動態。

And here comes the most important part of this project: to combine the cel-animation with the vector style.

First, I set the frame rate at 15 fps to integrate these two different styles. So that the frame-by-frame animation wouldn’t look weird or not jittery compared with the Ae animation. Following that, I imported each animatic and started drawing each frame in Ps. From sketch, clean up to coloring, all are all finished in Ps. It is the most time-consuming part of the project. It took me 4–5 weeks to draw all the frames that I needed.

這次的逐格動態我全都是用Ps製作,主要是因為Ps取得容易,且功能對我來說算堪用,但還是較推薦專業的動畫軟體像是TVPaint,Ps畢竟是影像繪圖軟體,動畫相關的功能很多地方都還不穩定。
如果仍想用Ps畫逐格,我非常推薦以下這支教學,示範得非常詳細,還教你如何優化Ps的動畫功能,而且不用任何外掛,我的製作過程基本上都是依照這個教學,真心大推!
Photoshop Animation Techniques
The animation tool in Ps works for me, but for cel-animation I would prefer to use TVPaint or other professional software. I chose Ps is because it was the most accessible to me at that moment. If you also need to draw frame by frame in Ps, I recommend this tutorial, which show you all the steps and optimize the animation tool:
Photoshop Animation Techniques

使用Ps裡的工作區域功能(Artboard)可以同時預覽多個視窗。 Creating many artboards in Ps makes it easier to follow the actual timeline.

繪製時,我會在Ps裡開多個工作區域(Artboard),分別放置動態腳本影片跟我要繪製的草稿圖層,就可以在預覽實際合成的情況下進行繪製,避免因格數畫不夠事後還要補、或是補太多細節結果合成完一閃即逝等令人欲哭無淚的問題XD

此外,繪製時我也會在草稿圖層底下墊一張低透明度的定稿,用來參考筆刷的粗細,以免合成之後才發現線條尺寸不符。

時間軸速率的設定跟影片一樣是15fps,並使用視訊群組(Video Group)來繪製,因為根據動態的不同我不會每格補滿,有時每兩格或三格才補一張,視訊群組對我來說比較好控制速度。

It is helpful to create different Artboards in Ps for the animatic and sketch layers. It makes it easier to follow the actual timeline while I am drawing the cel-animation; this is so I wouldn’t draw too many or too little frames before realizing it during the compositing.

Changing the stroke size after exporting the frames is not something easily done. In order to make sure they look good, I added a low opacity styleframe layer under the sketch layer so I could always follow it and reference if I needed to adjust the stroke size.

The frame rate setting in Ps is also 15 fps. I use Video Group (highlighted in the timeline by the purple) to do all the cel-animation because sometimes I don’t draw every frame, but only between every two or even three frames. It is easier to use Video Group to manage or extend the frames in the timeline.

清稿、上色完成之後便是分層輸出,我目前還是土法煉鋼一層一層分資料夾輸出成psd sequences,檔案多又花時間,如果有更好的方式歡迎提供給我QQ
After clean-up and coloring, I render all the layers individually, but it takes so much time and create a ton of files! If you know a better to way to get around this process to render, please let me know!

由於逐格動畫的工作量較大,又充滿許多不確定性以及實驗性質,除了整個專案的進度表之外我也針對逐格動畫做了單獨的進度表,用難度區分每一卡預計花的時間,並平均分配給每一週,藉此抓出每天大概需要的工作時間。

I have a schedule only for the cel-animation since it is the messiest and most difficult part of this project. The different numbers represent different levels. The greater the number is, the more time the scene takes. After summing up the total number and dividing it by my working days, I would figure out how many scenes I need to finish every day.


☞ 合成及細節調整 Compositing And Final Adjustment

逐格檔案都從Ps輸出完成後就是最後的合成動作啦~~!!

只要前期動態腳本的時間抓得夠準確、繪製逐格時有依照時間軸調整速度、輸出序列檔時檔案管理有做好,合成基本不太會有什麼問題,雖然最後調整時還是難免要回頭修改一些細節,但整體而言的工作效率是蠻不錯的!

以下附上其中幾卡的動態腳本、逐格動態草稿以及完稿的比較~

The last step is to combine everything together in After Effects!!

There are no special tips for this part. The animatic’s duration was correct, the cel-animation was following the final timeline, and the files were well managed. All I needed to do was to import everything and it would look good. Of course, there were some details that need to be adjusted, but overall this working process is very efficient.

Following are the animatic, cel-animation, and final version of different scenes.

動態腳本、草稿、完成畫面比較。 The animatic, cel-animation sketch, and the final version.

其中有兩卡想特別介紹一下:

幾何元素組合這卡(00:13–00:17)每個元件的前半段是在Ae製作動態,後半段接逐格動畫,最後拼湊成完整的角色造型,合成時再依照每個元件出現的順序逐一替換成逐格序列檔。

There are two scenes that I want to talk a little bit more about:

First is the scene where the shapes pop out and transform into the character (00:13–00:17). It begins with Ae motion and then is connected with cel-animation. What I did was to create a rough motion in Ae, and then followed the motion to draw “morphing” part in Ps. After, I would go back to Ae to replace the last half shape layers with sequences that I had made.

紅圈部分圖層前半段是Ae動態,後半段再接上Ps繪製的逐格。The first half part is the shape layer, and it is connected by psd sequences.
動態腳本、草稿、完成畫面比較。 The animatic, cel-animation sketch, and the final version.

鞦韆這卡(00:55–01:01)則是製作動態腳本之後,把頭、手、身體單獨拆開繪製,製作衣服、頭髮跟帽子飄動的循環動態之後再匯進Ae,依照鞦韆跟繩子擺動的位置調整身體擺動的幅度。

Secondly, I want to also elaborate on the swing scene (00:55–01:01). After making the animatic, I drew all the body parts separately in Ps, including the flipping beret and cloth, and then went back to Ae, while animating the body parts according to the position of the swing and the rope.


製作感想 | Conclusion

Perception 是我畢業前最後一個作品,也代表著留學一年半以來的成果總結,這是我第一次一個人花這麼長的時間執行一個專案,加上有許多沒嘗試過的流程,一開始總覺得有點不踏實,幸好有足夠的事前規劃、加上教授跟許多朋友的支持,最後才能順利完成,同時也很感謝幫我配樂的同學,為這支影片加了超多分~

這是我第一次嘗試寫雙語版本的文章,真是有夠累的!非常謝謝我的朋友Nicole幫我修改英文版本,真是太愛你了嗚嗚!

這篇文章主要著重在技術跟專案執行上的分享,之後預計會再寫一篇解釋創作概念和詳細的含義,希望大家能喜歡~

Perception is my last project at SCAD. It includes everything I’ve learned, felt, and perceived in this one and a half year duration. It was the first time I had spent so much time on a personal project. So I was actually very worried about finishing it. However, I was lucky to have much support from my friends, family, and professors — which helped me a lot during the process so I can complete everything on time.

Also, I love the music so much in this piece! It has elevated my animation to another level! I would especially like to thank my composer for such great work!

This is my first time writing in both Chinese and English. Thank my friend Nicole to help me edit the English version! Love you so much!

This article is mainly about the production process and skills. I will write another one following it to talk about the concept and the meaning of each scene! See you next time!


如果喜歡這系列的文章,就給我個拍手吧!👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Give me some applauses if you like this article! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻