Adding the “Juice” to Animations
This is Part 4 and the final installment in the series “How I Made This Animation” where I take apart the process of animating a scene from my latest commercial brand video.
Welcome to the last part of my series where I take apart this animation from start to finish:
In part 1, 2, and 3, I did the bulk of the hard work; now it’s time for the fun — adding finishing touches to the animation. The Juice. Going in and adjusting the tiny details of the animation to bring life to it and create delight!
Adding the “Juice”
What is the “juice”?
Juice is a term that I picked up from game development. It’s something that adds LIFE to your games. It makes them more satisfying. Usually, it is done after the main gameplay mechanics are already in place. You could also call it “polishing”, but that’s a boring term. The juice is the opposite of boring.
How do I make the animation juicy?
There are several ways to add juice to animations. So many, in fact, that it should get its own article someday.
Some easy ways to do it is to add anticipation and overshoot to your animations. And make those animations springy and natural.
Most things don’t move in a linear way, but the easiest way to animate digitally is linear. It’s okay to plan out your animations linearly, but once you go back for the finishing touches it’s time to adjust those timings. And not just “easy-ease” everything in After Effects, but go into the graph editor and tweak it to make it feel good!
It’s also a good time to revisit the 12 principles of animation (here’s a great video on that) and apply some of those to your animations.
Here are the things I did to make my scene juicier:
The first thing I did was to make everything more bouncy as a reaction to the running and jumping. The window would bounce down when jumping off of it and bounce a little down when landing on it. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference.
It’s one of those things you probably don’t even notice consciously. You just see the above animation and think:
“Hmm it works, but feels… a bit flat and lifeless. Boring.”
But a good animator knows how to spice it up with the proper amount of bounciness:
It’s a night and day difference once you see it! You can feel the
“boi-oi-oooinnng”. The jump becomes impactful.
Another thing I was excited to add, was the POWER-UP that the woman picks up along the way. I quickly designed the coffee mug and the question mark block in Figma and again sent them over with AEUX.
Then I animated the bounciness of the block, the question mark dropping out, the mug flying in a nice curve while also rotating, and then to finish it off I added some FANCY trailing effects when the power-up is picked up!
BAM, our character animation is juicified!
The trail is a stacking of the Echo, Colorama, and Mosaic effect in After Effects!
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Illustrating & Animating the Background
Our scene is almost finished now. But there is a big empty void behind our running protagonist. A world is missing that grounds the character.
Let’s fill this void with a background!
I made this little background in FIGMA. Not too detailed because it should not distract from the action with the character in the scene.
I separated the mountains, clouds, and other elements into their own layers so I could add a little bit of parallax animation to it. To get that extra bit of dimension in there.
Here is how it looked with a bit of parallax animation applied.
What is parallax?
Parallax is an old technique for 2D animations and especially backgrounds to make them feel more dimensional. You put things on separate layers and animate them with different speeds of movement. The further something is, the less it moves!
It’s as old as the first Disney animations, and also was used a lot in 2D games of the 16-bit era (e.g. Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis) so it fits great with the theme of this scene!
The final step was now integrating the background with the foreground where the action happens:
It looks good… But if you remember the final animation, it looked different.
This scene is only on screen for less than 10 seconds. For such a short amount of time, there is a lot of information to process.
The background competes a lot with the foreground. There is a striking color contrast of green on yellow and a lot of floating elements with sharp edges. But I need the viewer to focus on the jumping person and the apps in the front. That is the main story.
That’s why, ultimately, I decided to tint the entire background in a monochromatic purple and also apply some blur to it to take out the harsh edges.
I ended up with this final animation:
And here we go! We have our final scene. What a ride!
Here is the entire video once more:
When I started writing this series of articles I just imagined doing a single article or maybe two, but then looking into the details made me realize even more how there is to make a scene like this come together.
While we are deep in a project and in the flow to get it done, we sometimes don’t even realize how many choices we make intentionally and unintentionally. Going back and revisiting how this scene came together made me understand my own choices better, and appreciate all the work that has flown into this from an objective perspective.
💬 What did you enjoy most about this series? Would you like more deep dives like this? Leave a comment!
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