For this project, I was required to make a hand-drawn flip-book animation, then create a digital version of the same animation. I chose to animate a short sequence of the classic Atari game Pong, because I like video games and I wanted to do something simple. This project was for my 2D Animated Media class, in which I am learning the basics of 2D animation in Adobe Animate CC.
The first thing I did was find references from the game. I looked at Google images to design the title page of my flip-book, and watch gameplay videos to determine how the game physics worked.
Using these references, I began creating my flip-book. I used notecards instead of post-it notes for their stability and size. To make the animation more consistent, I used a light tracer to "onion skin," which let me see the previous frame underneath the one I was drawing. This way, I could trace over objects that didn't move, and draw moving objects the same distance away each time. I worked backwards, drawing the last frame first. This was because I knew where I wanted the ball and each paddle to end up, but I didn't know what angle the ball needed to be coming from in order to get there. Working backwards let me see how the ball would end up where it was while avoiding the second paddle.
I only drew on half of the notecard so that there would be enough space to clip the cards together and hold them without getting in the way of the animation. After finishing all 91 frames of the flip-book, I clipped them together with a binder clip. The flip-book was done!
The next part of the assignment was to convert the flip-book into a digital animation. After opening Adobe Animate, I realized that I'd forgotten to number my notecards! This was important because I originally planned on directly tracing each frame into Animate, and I needed to know how many frames I had and where each object was positioned on each frame. So, I went through and numbered every notecard. After a bit of trial and error while trying to figure out Animate, I created a digital version of each object.
Instead of moving each object every frame, I decided to use tweens. This meant that I looked for frames where a change in action happened (a paddle stopped moving or the ball ricocheted) and set the positions of those objects on those frames. Then I skipped to the next important frame and repeated the process. In between these frames, I added tweens, which automatically move the object from the first position to the next over the selected frames.
After finishing the majority of the animation, I made some adjustments. Since my flipping of the frames changed pace slightly while Animate had a steady frame rate, some of the timing was different. I added more time at the beginning and end of my animation for the title screen and end screen, and my finished animation ended up being 173 frames (82 more than the original). I originally had my animation set to 24 frames per second (a commonly used frame rate), but I soon found out that was too fast. I settled on 20 fps, and with that, my animation was complete!
Yep, after all that, it ended up being a 9-second animation. Ah, the life of an animator!
Title Screen: Quarles, Vincent. “Building a Pong Clone in Unity: UI and Gameplay.” SitePoint, SitePoint, 5 Feb. 2016, www.sitepoint.com/building-a-pong-clone-in-unity-ui-and-gameplay/.
Gameplay Image: BryantDaniels16. “The History Of Video Game Design Timeline.” Timetoast, media.timetoast.com/timelines/the-history-of-video-game-design-e38b38c3-7717-4dcc-8946-8f479c2b99e3.