Friday, December 14, 2007

Cartoon DryBrush FX VS Live Action Film Style Motion Blur

I love all the cartoony effects they used to use thousands of years ago.




http://www.cartoonthrills.org/blog/Clampett/WackyWabbit/1drybrushclip.mov




Drybrush was a tool old time animators sometimes used for speed effects. Here Clampett took it as far as possible and made a joke of it.



You had to be a really good inker to pull this off.


The effects style of many old cartoons were designed to match the medium, to look cartoony and appropriate to the graphic style.

Today we have major studios competing to see who can have the most realistic backgrounds and the most realistic film effects. (It's actually an imitation of the blurs that film creates when an object is moving too fast to photograph clearly. It's not realistic at all.)Why you would want "realistic" effects in a cartoon is one of the mysteries of the ages anyway.
Here's a carefully animated subtle scene of Bugs Bunny talking to a man's buttocks.

Note the hard-to-draw tilt of his head below. Here's where your toy construction! studies will come in handy.

http://www.cartoonthrills.org/blog/Clampett/WackyWabbit/drybrush02small.movThe animation is really great too. You can actually feel Elmer's weight bouncing around, even though it's all a blur. Go through the clip in slow motion and be amazed at the skill.



Bugs sure likes to access Elmer's goods.Look how alive Bugs is in the older pre-tude cartoons. He really was a wascawwy wabbit back then. Compare to just 4 years later

I think the idea is that film-style blur effects can add believability to computer generated cartoons. So you can hardly tell this cartoon image from real life.

I tried to get Macromedia to build in drybrush tools in Flash, but no luck, unfortunately.

50 comments:

/\/\ikeB said...

I think motion blur could look good if it actually
had arcs. But they never do! They render all the frames without blur FIRST, then add a blur AFTER with the computer.
Because its all raster at that point - arcs aren't put in.

Of course arcs could be added in if an actual human being set down to do it. But that doesn't look expensive and high-tech enough, so they don't.

That's why motion blur in cartoons doesn't even look like motion blur from real life.

Noah said...

The old dry brush stuff looks so awesome. It's a shame that companies today shy away from art like that. It's pretty disgusting.

Ryan G. said...

Im glad you did a post on this John. The Dry Brush is FX has purpose and is completely controlled. I know in Maya, motion blur is rendered the same time as the motion, so there is really no control of the intensity or variations of it. There are settings however to render the motion blur on the number of frames you want. So you can render every frame or every three frames, ect.. I do have a feeling though, that the pros apply it to all the frames.

Emmett said...

"You had to be a really good inker to pull this off."

What is your advice on learning to be a good inker? Where does one start? Lately, that's become one of my obsessions is good inking.

I really like those old dry brush effects. Motion blurs may work fine for CG, but not with hand drawn art.

Ryan G. said...

>>It's actually an imitation of the blurs that film creates when an object is moving too fast to photograph clearly. It's not realistic at all.)<<

Well, the whole point of a dry brush effect or a motion blur is to trick the eye into thinking something is moving really fast. In that respect, they both work. The dry brush is however more creative and more appealing. Unfortunately there is no medium that can reproduce what the human eye really sees, so besides hand drawn, motion blur is completely based on camera settings.

Cassidy said...

Couldn't agree with you more. Smear shapes and drybrush are so much more appropriate for comedic action! That's why we used hand-made smear shapes instead of motion blur wherever we could on "Madagascar". We didn't have a good pipeline for drybrush effects at the time, so we could only use those sparingly, but I hope we get to do that more in the future.

My personal inspiration for smear shapes is a single breakdown frame from "Space Madness", when Stimpy's sitting on Ren's chest, and Ren gives up struggling, and his head snaps down to the ground, his eyeballs stretch out into these crazy curved hotdogs... do you know the frame I'm talking about? Who drew that?

m. alexander said...

great example. the second clip is really impressive, it's a shame things aren't done like this so much any more.

Gabriel said...

So you can hardly tell this cartoon image from real life.

hahaha, you made me laugh so hard i choked on my own spit and almost died!

Beaver said...

Artistically, old school all the way. It's sort of a catch 22 though....I think of 3D GD stuff more like stopmotion. But you don't get blur from single frame capturing......but the 3D CG shows have blur that helps sell the entire thing as really existing and really being captured with a camera.

You would think in a medium where the computer does all the work, rendering wise, they would take more risks with the look of it all....rendering wise

Guilherme said...

Hi John! great posts as usual!

Although I work in a Flash production, I recommend you ToonBom Digital Pro. The brush control is much much better then Flash, and is a tool designed for animators.

Best,
Guilherme

Rodrigo said...

Hey Juan,

Interesting point you make. You should check out the character "Hammy" from Over the Hedge . He's got some interesting and cartoony effects on his motion path.

Also, here's my cartoon construction stuff.

Jinks Construction

carlo guillot said...

Hi John
There´s an interesting software that I use sometimes when I need to do digital things that look like hand painted stuff. Obviously nothing compares to the actual hand painting, but when you are in a hurry...
www.artrage.com
It´s like Painter, but easier, cheaper (free, or $25 the complete edition) and the interface is more intuitive.
I use to watch classic cartoons frame by frame and it blew my mind everytime I see those dry-brush-motion-blurs, or all the interesting details and drawings that you only see when you pause the video, but you sure can feel them when you see the film.
See ya

Señor Chips said...

I remember studying this cartoon in one of the Spumco drawing classes, I still think about it whenever I animate digital drybrush or even smears.
Although there isn't a drybrush feature in flash, it is somewhat achievable in Adobe Illustrator, which can then be imported into Flash. It does the job, but can't be compared to the screengrabs you've posted.

Pringle

boootooons ltd. said...

i'm with emmett. yes, motion blur is difficult to pull off ( the first time i was aware of it and tried to imitate it was when i was a kid and i copied drawings of the roadrunner running... the blur of his feet which sometimes had a pear shape ), but i'm ready for an inking lesson.

ideally, if you could get kali to film you like you did with the heckling hare construction lesson ( which taught me more about construction than anyone else has in the last ten years ) that'd be great, and much easier for us visual learners.

thanks for another informative post john and CONGRATULATIONS on the ASIFA award! you deserve it!

- trevor.

Jeff LaMarche said...

John -

You mention in this post trying to get macromedia to put dry brush features into Flash... I remember reading a few years back in an interview you did that you had an idea for an animation software package. Did you ever get anywhere with that project?

Robert said...

I dunno... the drybrush in the first clip is effective, but in the second one it looks more like those chinese dancers that drag long silk banners thru the air. The impression of great speed is gone.

I bet they decided it didn't work either when they saw the final result on film. Which may be why they didn't do much more of that excessive drybrush later on.

As far as the motion blur in CG... drybrush over 3D would look pretty dumb, it just wouldn't fit in the visual style.

pumml said...

These clips are a masterclass in drybrushing. I can't believe how accurate and controlled all the swirling is. I've been playing with drybrushing lately (though not in animation) and it's a lot of fun.

I wish Macromedia had listened to you about adding them to Flash. It would be very handy.

Lex said...

This was one of my favourite toons as a kid. "Eureka - gowd at wast!"

I wish Flash had better drawing tools too. Maybe Adobe will improve it now that they're running the show.

Frank Macchia said...

Oh man..ask and ye shall recieve...i requested a post like this a couple back..not sure if this was a coincidence or my cry was heard...i'm always wearly if you ready through all these comments John...glad to see you're in it for us...wouldn't mind seein another post specifically on your methods of smeared drawings, like the ones of Wile E. you posted. I've still been experimenting with that technique. Lots of fun, but a hard one to get just right.
Thanks again John.
I def plan on givin you some much deserved pay palling goodness for christmas. haha which is a big deal comming from a broke animation student.
have a good one.

Josh Latta said...

Really? a dry brush woulda been awesome in flash.
oh well, maybe one day...

Larry Levine said...

Another incredible example of what an traditional 2D animator can do that no CG pixel will ever match!

ted said...

Amazing! I just watched this cartoon for the first time last night! I actually rewound the drybrush sequence you mention here. It is absolutely jaw dropping! Everyone shuold see this cartoon! Clampett...holy shit man...

Cassidy said...

Larry, you should be very careful about statements like "no ... will ever ..." in this day and age. Especially when it concerns the very young medium of computer animation.

There are already techniques in CG for doing all kinds of painterly effects, including drybrush. You've probably already seen them, and you just didn't know they were CG.

Don't judge a medium's potential by the limitations of how it's been used in the past. If everyone had done that in Winsor McCay's day, we wouldn't have any of these great cartoons to look back on and admire, instead we'd all be sitting in caves rubbing sticks on rocks. In black and white. With bones in our beards!

Raff said...

>> I tried to get Macromedia to build in drybrush tools in Flash, but no luck, unfortunately. <<

OHHHHHHHHHH!!!! *smacks head* OHHHHH!!! Custom brushes! You Macromedia bastards! Would it have killed you guys to put in that feature?? (It's up to Adobe now - man enough to do it?)

Mattoo said...

I am somewhat confused by this continued attack on computer rendered animation. There appears to be some belief that it is a threat to traditional drawn animation. Can it not just be accepted as an alternative just in the same way stop motion animation is, which not only has no drybrushed motion blur - but it has no motion blur what so ever!

I personally really don't see it as a continuation of drawn animation but much more akin to Stop Motion.

Yet I don't see the failings of that medium and it's lack of motion blur getting any ire around here.

By all means, attack the artwork and aesthetic choices made by the films producers, because if they wanted dry brushed exaggerated motion blur they could have got it. But blaming the tool is simply ignorant.

DorkyMalone said...

Good lord, that last frame is from Anime Studio, right? We use that at work. I'm a graphic designer, yet I'm sometimes tasked with making animation with Anime Studio, and I'm a little ashamed every time because its near impossible to make specific animation with it.

pinkboi said...

Johnさん

You know what would go well in a software package. If you want me to make it, I'll make it for you! It gets boring only making software for medical and scientific industries....

I'm not kidding. I'll tailor animator/flash generating software just for you. I'm shooting you an e-mail right now whether you like it or not, HAHAHAHA!

Tschus Dich!

Beast said...

One thing that makes me laugh is when they put a lens flare in a CG scene.

kiril said...

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slowtiger said...

Motion blur is already built into AnimeStudio, which I recommend anyway over Flash for character animation.
Better control over these effects generally can be maintained in compositing applications like Combustion. As this kicks in after the rendering from the animation program was done, you can use any bitmap software to apply drybrush-like effects. My personal favourite is the (now discontinued) Mirage, but even Photoshop will do, if you just want to apply the FX to a handfull of frames.

Larry Levine said...

"you should be very careful about statements like "no ... will ever ..." in this day and age. Especially when it concerns the very young medium of computer animation."

I strongly believe that no computer technician can match the magic of a Rod Scribner, Emery Hawkins, Bob McKimson or J.C. 'Bill' Melendez when their pencils touched the animation paper.

CG at it's best will always be a descendant of George Pal & Rankin/Bass--never of Bob
Clampett, Chuck Jones or Max Fleischer.

Shorty said...

Motion blur is a product of shutter speed, the subject moves x distance in time that the shutter is open, if it moves a lot, big blur, if it is quite still for that duration then little or no blur. If you wave your had back and forth in front of your face, you’ll see a continuous blur, (excluding change of direction and assuming you’re not in an environment with a pulsing light or waving your hand in front of a monitor).
There is a point where extra frames will become blurred when viewed. If you had a format that would play back 240 frames per second and had a cycle of a horse galloping where each image was perfectly crisp when paused, you would still see a blur of motion in the legs when played back.
I think blur allows you to define (and indicates in film) what is happening between frames, what is not fully captured. You could do a break down at .5 .25 etc to define the arc something moves through, the same as you would switch to 1s. It is another sample point.
I also submit this is a major problem with motion capture over traditional animation. If you are capturing motion at regular intervals you will miss extremes that fall between samples, whereas if you animate it, your extremes will be exactly on the frame. It’s the difference between a fresh ice sculpture and one that has had time to melt. Add to that linear motion blur, or keys which do not give you a sub frame arc even stiffer again.
I also find that squash and stretch that yields to direction of motion, (as in the elongating ball flying through the air) looks nicer than a perfect circle as it yield itself to the illusion of motion blur.
Anyway, rant rant rant, my 2p, interesting topic.

-Shorty

Jeff LaMarche said...

Motion blur is already built into AnimeStudio, which I recommend anyway over Flash for character animation.

I think you're missing John's point. He seems to suggest that manually applied dry brush effects are more appropriate for showing movement in drawn animation than a computer-applied blur would be. Motion blur just simulates a technological limitation of using a move or video camera.

Barbara said...

my god, Elmer never looked so beautiful.

David Nethery said...

Great examples and frame grabs as usual , John !

I miss good drybrush effects . And you're right, those are not easy to do (I've tried with only limited success) ... the inkers who could successfully do those type of elaborate drybrush effects were really specialized Effects Animators in my opinion , not just inkers .

Slowtiger wrote:

" you can use any bitmap software to apply drybrush-like effects. My personal favourite is the (now discontinued) Mirage""

Yeah, that's similar to the program I mentioned when you were talking about your goal of achieving a better line quality (inking) in Flash ... as an alternative to Flash's awkward drawing tools I suggested you try TVPaint Animation , which is the next generation of the "Mirage" software that Slowtiger mentions. Mirage is gone , but lives on in TVPaint.

There are dozens of customizable brushes in TVPaint Animation which could be used to do drybrush-like effects. If I have time over the holidays I'll try to do a test to show you or you could always download the Free Trial demo of TVPaint (see link above under Downloads) .

Kyle said...

brad bird in an podcast interview says this is his biggest complaint in 3d animation as far as limitations go. it makes it especially hard to animate mouths that read clearly because the frames tend to blur up easily. he too hopes someone comes up with more appealing 2d esk motion blur and arcs.

I think it'll happen eventually. hopefully soon.

cemenTIMental said...

They render all the frames without blur FIRST, then add a blur AFTER with the computer.
Who are "they"!? Most digital motion blur (especially in 3d apps, or in After Effects 2d) is basically the same principle as 'real' photographic motion blur.

I've always been interested in the possibilities of deforming CG models more like you would a drawn cartoon, rather than simulating photographic motion blur.

On the other hand, I'm all about adding motion blur to stop motion! :) Tried this out by various means in our "The Peril of Doc Ock" short for LEGO, it allows for much more cinematic/dynamic action than conventional stop motion, tho of course replacement animation could also give you cartoon-like smear frames of sorts, but much more expensive to shoot.

You would think in a medium where the computer does all the work, rendering wise, they would take more risks with the look of it all....rendering wise
Yes, you'd think so, and many people have experimented with non-photographic render styles to great effect. But rendering takes a long time rendering wise, and thus costs a lot of money, money wise, which makes producers cautious.

Donald said...

check out this cartoon
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJLAjz44180

Kyle said...

by the way, am I the only one who cant see most of the pics in this post? I've tried them in two browsers, looks like broken links outside of the video clips, and the shot from Horton.

Floyd Bishop said...

There is no reason that you can't have this same effect in CG, but as you mentioned, it would have to be done by hand, frame by frame. It would be possible to get a motion blur effect to do something a bit similar, but you would have to key frame the blur settings in the render and really pay attention to each frame. If you are doing that, you might as well just paint it on the final frames in Photoshop or similar.

Cassidy said...

Floyd wrote: There is no reason that you can't have this same effect in CG, but as you mentioned, it would have to be done by hand, frame by frame.

Exactly. And when we do do it by hand, it looks awesome! (Not quite as awesome as these drybrush frames, but that just means we have a little ways to go yet.) And actually, that doesn't just apply to the blur/smear frames... I think every frame of animation can be improved by the touch of a human hand, regardless of whether it's done on a CG rig, a clay puppet or paper.

What's happening in this decade is that the tools for CG animation are improving to the point where artists are finally getting the power to make the computer do what they really want, instead of settling for what a very stiff, puppety, "realistic" rig will let them do.

Shorty said...

I don't think it would be too hard to do in CG, not with a gentle curve ar any rate, with a full s or loop it would be a bit more difficult as you'd need to define sub frame motion.

-Shorty

Robert said...

"I strongly believe that no computer technician can match the magic of a Rod Scribner, Emery Hawkins, Bob McKimson or J.C. 'Bill' Melendez when their pencils touched the animation paper"

You're stacking the deck by limiting the comparison to "technicians". The discussion is about what artists might do.

Larry Levine said...

You're stacking the deck by limiting the comparison to "technicians". The discussion is about what artists might do.

There are unlimited options what an artist can do. How Clampett did rapid motion is very different from how Chuck Jones & Ken Harris approached it in "Dover Boys". The question is what is the computer's role in it today?

Several month's back a Disney animator/director told me the studio was switching to tablet discs though he personally was sticking with pencil & 16 field paper. I asked Bill Melendez what he thought of computers in animation & he said they were a tool just like a pencil. Here's a case where the younger artist was more old school that the elder statesman.

IMO (which doesn't mean I'm right, only what works best for me) something gets lost in the technology when an animator/cartoonist turns too heavily towards software. I'm guilty of using Photoshop for more than I originally intended & been scaling back with it and now I'm much happier with the results. Perhaps I'm like a reformed smoker & became too hard-lined against it.

Cassidy said...

Larry Levine writes: "...something gets lost in the technology when an animator/cartoonist turns too heavily towards software."

I totally agree. I know you're talking about hand-drawn animation here, but the same applies in my field. When CG animators rely too much on their rigs, and don't put enough thought into every frame, the results look awful. But you can't blame the tool for the laziness of the artist using it.

"CG at it's best will always be a descendant of George Pal & Rankin/Bass--never of Bob
Clampett, Chuck Jones or Max Fleischer."


There you go with that word again. (Didn't your mom teach you never to say "never"? ;-) I believe that we will see animation at some time in the future, possibly quite soon, that is a direct descendant of both. There will be abominable monsters, no doubt, but there will also be hybrids of incredible vigor and grace.

Larry Levine said...

There you go with that word again. (Didn't your mom teach you never to say "never"?


She was too busy yelling at me to stop staying in my room watching cartoons all day :(

pappy d said...

Mikeb:

That's a good point about the arcs! I never could put my finger on it. It truly looks awful in fast, broad actions.

On a recent production they had a blur program based on an average of the pose & the one after so that you'd get too much blur on the ease-ins. You couldn't adjust any parameters on the blur program so nice acting in dialog scenes got lost in the blur when it wasn't even needed. Bright sunny scenes blurred just like dark scenes.

The tools will inevitably get better. Bad blur will improve or go the way of computer inbetweens. The problem seems to be that a state of the art CG movie won't make money unless it's a good story. Economically unfeasible is the only unfeasible in sight.

Shorty said...

Caution on the computer nerd in me attempting to break free..

I'm not sure of the programs that are being used to do blur. Still, if you only sample 2 points then you can only get a straight line.
If you sample before and after a frame with the actual frame as reference than you can get an in and out, and have a corner. You can do this in 3d, and even increase the samples to get arcs. I think most post blur software will give you the option of blur before after frame or both. If they take a linear vector, or if the allow you to extract a cardinal curve to blur with I don't know.

I can see how a dedicated post process could sample both sides of a frame, and even use 2 frames each side, pull the same points that it would use to get a motion vector, but trace a curve between those points and then blur along the curve.

I think you could even use those curves to construct a surface to smear a dry brush effect along.

I guess I could draw a diagram to explain if this makes no sense.

Here's an example of where linear motion blur can leave you, ignore the text just look at the first 2 images of the propeller. One with round blur and one with straight.
http://cebas.com/products/feature.php?UD=10-7888-33-788&PID=36&FID=301
-It's just the first example I found, I have no affiliation with the site or product.

-Shorty

tobor68 said...

since this is an older post nobody will read it.

motion blur is a 'cost effective' tool nowadays. from a bean counters POV, if the computer can do the blur with the click of a button, why pay the animator to spend time making a drawing or what-have-you to accomplish the same?

at least this is the feeling i get working in tv animation. toonboom has a blur module that renders the blur on your 2d cartoon. looks like poop.

blurs/dry brush/smears should always be drawn. makes fast animation look a lot better.

john, i appreciate your site more and more everyday. thanks.

kurtwil said...

If you look really closely at most CG motion blur, it tends to be very linear, either hugging the character, trailing its path, or - all too often - following a straight line from object pose to object pose.

Also, in virtually every animation or compositing program I know (quite a few), There is no way for the user to assign a PATH to motion blur!

Old dry brush blurs did exactly that...followed a PATH defined by the artist.

And yes, modern compositing tools do have mechanisms to define specific paths (masks, etc), but unfortunately those tools rarely allow attaching drybrush or other tools to them.

Sadly (for animators), composition product programmers, deluged with the needs of live action ((Bigger images, more plates per shot, ROTO, ROTO, ROTO!)), have little time to provide tools for the tiny (by comparison) animation industry.

..and interesting the last example here came from MOHO, which went on to become Anime Studio, a FLASH competitor.