Math is not a skill to learn by rote, but it can be a source of inspiration in your work, especially if you are a visual person.
Many animators think that the best way is to just have a clear concept and then let the system make decisions for a given sequence. Unfortunately, it is much more complex to think about the math.
Before you work on a simple sequence you should first think about the math involved, because it might turn out to be what keeps you up at night. Consider this: what if all these animators are using the same math?
What are the best methods for calculating arcs and angles? How do visual effects artists do this? What’s the best method for dealing with tangents? How does Pixar animate a character’s head into the trunk?
One thing you might want to consider is how the calculations for calculating arcs and angles are different in different styles, as seen in the example animation above. The animation above was done with a 2-D animation. The head is animated to the trunk, and the arm and arm and leg are animated to a trunk. This style has a very wide range of calculations. And this is not to say that animators should go out and do 2-D calculations on a 2-D page. It’s just that this might help to make the maths clearer, as in the example animation above.
If you would like to know more about how some visual effects animators use math for their work, I’d recommend checking out this article.
It’s a good idea to plan and set aside a time to practice using math. You don’t necessarily need to do all of these things, since you really just need to know how to calculate arcs and angles in order to take notes on the math to help yourself learn how to calculate arcs and angles later.
One last thing you should consider while you are practicing using math is that it’s not as fast as rote memorization.
If your visual effects animation is too fast, then you may need to spend more time on what you really need. If you are practicing more than a half hour a day, having a clear goal to work towards (e.g. completing sequences) could help.
What About the Art of Animation?
Animation is a very technical field. Many people don’t get the point of what it’s about, so most of it gets skipped over. That is the beauty of animation, really.
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