"Whereas in animation, you have to kind of do a series of drawings in between to complete the movement." — Gerald Scarfe
The name or title "in-betweener" can give the impression of an insignificant animation role. That impression is far from the truth, as the role of an in-between animator is quite significant in an animation studio and production pipeline.
In-between animators do more than draw the in-between animation between keyframes; in-between animators characterize or clean up the animation model, allowing them to influence the character model process.
A key role in ensuring all the animation drawings are consistent through intense manipulation and have accurate masses beckons the question—does every animation studio need an in-between animator?
This blog unfolds what makes an in-between animator important in an animation studio, why animation studios need in-between animators, and what value an in-between animator brings to an animation studio.
What Makes An In-between Animator Important In An Animation Studio
GIF via Tenor
The responsibility of maintaining the consistency of animation characters throughout animation production falls on the in-between animator. Hence, accuracy, precision, and familiarity with 2D animation are useful for in-between animators.
Several animators with diverse animation styles may work on the same animated character, and the in-between animator's knowledge of the 12 animation principles guides them to refine rough sketches to retain the dimensions of the original drawing while creating the illusion of movement.
For animation studios looking to add an in-between animator, their job description includes:
- Collaborating with animators and character designers to create key images for the entire animation
- Modeling the animation character from multiple angles
- Creating timing and animation charts for principal animators
- Keeping the animation style of the video consistent throughout
- Framing an animated character's motions, poses, and actions
- Animating character attitudes with polished lines, body language, and expression
- Observing the laws of physics, scale, and perspective while animated characters move within the scene layout or background
- Arcing an animated character's movements through an animation sequence
Further to the job description, an in-between animator should boast similar skills to a 2D animator, like animating shapes and sketching an animation character to give it life.
Skills In-between Animators Need To Add Value In Animation Studios
In-between animating can be one of the most tedious activities in animation since it is more mechanical than creative and arguably requires more attention than other stages during animation production. An animation studio can do well with the skills of an in-between animator, which are:
- Exceptional drawing and illustration skills
- Basic understanding of natural movements, anatomy, and skeletal frameworks
- Proficient at articulating cloth behavior and texturizing fur, hair, and skin
- Ability to convey an animated character's mass, reaction to gravity, and movement within a (vacuum) space
- Have a consistent mindset for each sketch throughout the entire animation scene
- Accuracy in interpreting perspective, scale, framing, lighting, camera angles, depth of field, and shading
- Mastery of expressing character performance
To increase time efficiency, animation studios need to consider the animation tools an in-between animator uses, including pencils, pens, paper, erasers, an animator's disk, desk, tracing lightbox, and animation software like Harmony and Clip Studio Paint (CSP).
Animation Studios Need The Best In-between Animators
For animation studios to be abreast in the competitive animation industry, artists with some level of education or experience are preferable. But what training do suitable in-between animators need?
Drawing, 2D and 3D animation production, and motion graphics are distinguishable competencies an in-between animator employs to improve an animation studio production.
Commendable educational paths for in-between animators include a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts in animation, computer animation, computer graphics, illustration, graphic design, and computer science.
Although animation studios sought some credibility when considering in-between animators, formal education and training are not requisites to becoming an in-between animator; sheer passion and artistic creativity are the foundations of animation.
So, Where Do In-between Animators Work in a Production Pipeline?
Competition is robust, and animation studio owners should understand that in-between animators work in several fields, from marketing agencies to game studios to software development companies.
In a 2D animation production pipeline, in-between animators complete the animation to move fluidly after receiving key frames from the principal animator. In 3D animation, an in-between animator helps test rigs, research how things move, and animate minor scenes or do tasks like lip-syncing.
Animation studios can scale efficiently when considering that a Runner with artistic abilities can move up the production pipeline to an in-between animator while mastering their skill.
Since an in-between animator needs to weigh the animated scene's lighting and layout to effect realistic movement, they are invaluable as creatives who can expand professionally to roles like layout, lighting, or compositing artist.
How In-between Animators Can Elevate Your Animation Studio
GIF by DeviantArt
New developments in the animation industry are rampant, and whether "does every animation studio need an in-between animator?" is no longer a question.
In-between animators are cornerstones of any animation team, requiring them to host competencies that set them apart and ahead of their peers. Constant learning and upskilling are commendable for in-between animators.
Animation studios look for extraordinary animators with multiple skill sets for their animation teams and can identify master in-between animators by considering those who:
- Flip the character sketches while animating in-betweens to have smooth drawings.
- Plot arcs in blue or red before roughing in the animation character.
- Inspect the layout and whether the character has to follow any background elements or elements on a separate layer.
- Maintain volumes while animating in-betweens unless the rough animation requires changing them for artistic reasons.
- Organize a working system and always remember each scene's status.
- Ask questions, communicate, listen, and look for inconsistencies when reviewing an animation scene.
- Adhere to the principal animator's keys and model sheets, and not make unadvised additions and subtractions to the character and animation.
- Don't use either the top or bottom lights, but both. Use the bottom light for blue sketches, the top light for black, and both for close in-betweens.
- Watch for animation drawings that require follow-through or secondary action.
With digital animation popular in modern animated films, every animation studio needs an in-between animator to grasp technical tools beyond the pencil.
How In-between Animators Make Animation Studios Efficient
Tweening, the computational technique to calculate the transition between the two keyframes specified by an animator, is a skill every animation studio needs an in-between animator for, i.e., to tween.
Since tweening involves the in-between animator using animation software, animation studios produce animations quicker, answering the question of does every animation studio need an in-between animator.
The Need Of An In-between Animator In An Animation Studio
The answer to the question, "does every animation studio need an in-between animator," is a simple consideration that an in-between animator is behind animation characters looking seamless and smooth in every animation the audiences see.
Though often underrated, an in-between animator is important in an animation studio, and the career path of an in-between animator is exciting as it is full of responsibilities.
This post highlights the need for in-between animators in animation studios, profiles how an upskilled in-between animator benefits an animation studio, how tweening is productive, and how animation studios can identify best-in-class in-between animators.
In-between animators looking at how to start an animation studio can check out the Business of Animation free masterclass, and join the animation accelerator program to start and grow a successful freelance animation career.