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How Animation Inbetweens Can Impact Your Production Pipeline

ben marvazi 2020

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For those who don't know, inbetweening is the process of filling in the blanks between keyframes to create smooth animation. Although it sounds simple enough, it's one of the most complicated processes in the animation pipeline and can make or break your project. In this article, we'll explain what inbetweening is and how it works, as well as its benefits and drawbacks. Let's get started!

What Are Animation Inbetween Frames?

Animation Inbetween Frames making the running cheetah look like a fluid motion

GIF by VJ Suave via GIPHY

Inbetween frames are the frames between keyframes. Animation inbetweens are what give the animation its fluidity and make it look realistic, but they're also something that a lot of people don't know much about or understand.

In order for an animated character to move from one keyframe to another, there needs to be some sort of transitional frame that connects those two points in time. This helps ensure that your animation doesn't look choppy or abrupt when it moves; instead, it'll appear more natural and lifelike because there's motion within each frame (or video).

What Is The Animation Inbetweens Process?

The Animation Inbetweens Process, character in different poses to make the motion appear more natural

GIF by notofagus via GIPHY

In an ideal situation, you would have one artist working on each character and they would be able to create all their assets (key poses) before passing them off to another artist who could then create all their animation inbetweens in one fell swoop.

This isn't always possible though; sometimes you might want two characters' key poses done by different people because they're working on different projects or it makes sense for some other reason (for example: if one character was created first). 

If this happens it will slow down your pipeline because now those assets need to be handed off from one person and then back again multiple times before getting into production and there's no guarantee that both parties will finish at exactly the same time either!

Benefits of Animation Inbetweens

Benefits of Animation Inbetweens between two characters fighting is realism

GIF by Samaka Studio via GIPHY

Inbetweening is an important part of the animation process as it helps to bridge the gap between keyframes. Animation inbetweens can either be done by hand or machine and can be used for both traditional and digital animation, as well as stop motion animation. 

Animation inbetweens improve the quality of your animated characters, making them feel more lifelike and natural. Also, by having software create your animation inbetweens, it will grant you a faster production time and save costs overall.

Drawbacks Of Animation Inbetweens

Drawbacks Of Animation Inbetweens, girl saying there's a downside

GIF by The Orville via GIPHY

There are several drawbacks of animation inbetweens, the main one being that the inbetweening process requires a lot of work, which is why many traditional animators prefer to draw their own keyframes. 

It takes time to draw the inbetween frames and it can be a tedious process, not everyone is cut out for that kind of job. You need to be good at drawing and patient enough to endure drawing hundreds or even thousands of pictures every day.

Animation Inbetweens Can Make Or Break Your Animation

Animation Inbetweens Can Make Or Break Your Animation, hands moving a puppet horse on strings

GIF by Barbara Pozzi via GIPHY

Inbetweening makes it possible to create smooth motion between two sets of keyframes. If you don't have enough inbetweens, your animation will look jumpy and stilted because there aren't enough intermediate frames to create natural motion between two keyframes. 

On the other hand, if you overdo it with unnecessary inbetweening then you'll end up with a jittery or jerky movement that doesn't convey any kind of emotion or action whatsoever! 

The trick is finding just enough and no more intermediate frames so that each character has their own unique personality while still conveying emotion effectively through their actions (or lack thereof).

Animation Inbetweens Can Be Done By Humans Or Machines

animation inbetweens created by people on computers in a office

GIF by Rebecca Hendin via GIPHY

As we mentioned earlier, when animation inbetweens is done by hand, inbetweening can take hours or even days to complete depending on the complexity of your scene. This means that if you want to create high-quality animations at scale (which we all do), then you need some kind of machine assistance.

If you're working with humans, they're going to get bored pretty quickly as they repeat the same tasks over and over again day after day and this will impact their quality level too! On top of this, hiring animators is expensive especially if they're experienced ones who know their way around Maya/3DS Max, etc., so this isn't going anywhere fast either...

Animation Inbetweens Can Be Labor-Intensive

Animation Inbetweens Can Be Labor-Intensive, character working very hard on two computers

GIF by Kennysgifs via GIPHY

Inbetweening is a labor-intensive process but it can be worth it for certain products. If you're producing a show with simple character designs and environments, animation inbetweens may not be necessary. However, if your product has detailed and complex characters or environments (like an animated movie), then this extra step could save you time and money by reducing the number of frames that need to be drawn manually by hand later on in production.

Animation inbetweens are used in 2D animation as well as 3D computer graphics (CG) animation programs such as Maya or Autodesk MotionBuilder; however, there are some differences between how each medium uses this technique.

In 2D animation, images are drawn out on paper before being scanned into computers where they're colored digitally; whereas CG artists will draw directly onto their workstation's monitor using digital tools like pencils or brushes. When these images get exported from their respective programs into another application like After Effects where they'll eventually become part of an animated scene together with other elements like backgrounds etc., any errors made during this process would have been corrected already.

Animation Inbetweens Are Essential

Animation Inbetweens Are Essential for all animated characters such as this man dancing

GIF by cali7 via Tenor

In the end, animation inbetweening is a process that can add value to your animation production. It can help save time and money by filling in the blanks between keyframes, but it's also very labor-intensive and requires skilled artists who know how to use their tools. If you're considering using this method on your next project, be sure that it will make sense for both the budget and timeline of your project!

If you’re an animator who’s looking to start your own studio or grow your career by learning new skills like inbetweens or inbetweening, check out our blog on How to Start an Animation Studio and GET FREE TRAINING to kickstart your animation career today.

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