J A Grogan (agrocoders)

7 answers · asked · Lesson: Character Ball · Course: Blender Animation Bootcamp

A general animation question...

Hey Wayne,

You've said that you are a professional animator so I am a wanting to ask you how long it generally takes to do a character animation. That way I'll know if I've not spent significantly more time than that then I've not done enough work. 

It will help give me a better ideal how much time you spend fine tuning an animation rather than laying it out generally. I can see from the videos you are very fast.

So here's the scenario: the scene is set up with a human character, I suppose that Rivet works too:

a) Animate humanoid for two and a half  minutes dancing,  say a clog dance, I think they are called Irish jigs too.

b) syncing the dance animation to the music

I suppose (b) requires fine tuning of a(a) so (a) would be the first good layout of the animation and (b) would always be the fine tuning of the animation.

How long does that two and a half minutes take you as a professional? 1 week? 2 weeks? It's two and a half minutes. 

I've seen in the credits of animated movies a scary long list of animators; so with movies averaging about 90 minutes long does each person wind up spending the entire production time of the movie animating 15 minutes or less of the movie? Or is it the script and music gets continually so animators are making multiple scenes that never get included in the movie?

Now I'm interesting in learning animating game action but in order to do that I must plan scenes and animate them like a real movie so I'm essentially writing a movie and converting it to a game. I know it will be a lot of work but I'd like to hear how much time it would take to do 2.5 minutes as mentioned above.


  • crew

    HI Agro,

    Wow, 2.5 mins of animation is an ambitious task. And how long something takes to animate depends on many factors.  The main one being the level of quality you are after.  The better the quality, the longer it takes.

    For TV quality animation, the general quota would be to animate about 5 seconds per day of work.  But it also depends on what you are animating.  Full body shots with multiple characters take a lot longer.  Because you are animating the every part of the character plus, there is many characters to animate.

    The key in your situation would be to only animate what you need to.  Plan out your shots to your music BEFORE you start animating (animatic).  With smart planning you can cut in and away to make it more exciting than a single full shot for 2.5 minutes plus you make it easier to create.

    If it's a dance, you can also reuse some of the animation - which makes it easier.

    For the game animation you mentioned, the normal way of doing this is not to plan it like  a movie and turn it into a game. The first steps would be to figure out the actions your character needs to do (walk, run, strafe, jump, idle, death etc) and then animate them as separate actions.  And a game engine would blend these together as required.  But maybe I don't fully understand your idea.

    I hope that helps.


  • Hey Wayne,

    Thanks for your advice. 

    Last question not related directly to an exercise! You say TV quality, so then movie quality would increase the amount of work by a factor of X? What would X be?

    So for a TV quality animation that isn't a full body shot 5 seconds per 8 hours shift. A full body shot that is TV quality work, I'll take "a long longer" to mean generally 3 times longer so 3 days of 8 hours each. And that is when a professional does it, for me it as a beginner trying to learn well enough to even attempt such a task, well, a very general a lot longer, indeed.

    Cool! Thanks a lot! You don't know how useful it is to have a timeframe it would take a professional to do such a task as a reference. So such a 2 and a half minute animation is my 1st independent goal after finishing the rest of this course and a few others at CG Cookie. I do want it to be TV quality, at least the animation aspects of it, which these new  ray tracing nVidia 3000 series cards maybe it's not so far fetched to have the lighting and rest of the scene TV quality too, supposing I could ever find one in stock at a MSRP price.

    As far as games go, that's a not really a concern so much.

  • crew

    Last question not related directly to an exercise! You say TV quality, so then movie quality would increase the amount of work by a factor of X? What would X be?

    This is roughly by a factor of 5.

    TV quality is roughly 5 seconds a day (depending on the shot).  Feature Film is about 5 seconds a week (also depends on the shots)

    As for how much harder a shot is when there are multiple characters.  If there are 2 characters, it takes approximately twice as long.
    3 characters is 3 times as long etc.  But it also depends on what they are doing.  If they are interacting physically with each other, this is much harder to animate.  Where as if one character is the focus (say an over the shoulder shot) then it hardly adds any time at all.

    I wouldn't recommend going straight into a 2.5 minute short film.  I would start on small snippets that practice all the things you need to do for the big short first.  Make some mistakes, learn, grow, improve - and then tackle your bigger project!  This will probably have some finished projects under your belt rather than 1 big unfinished one.

    Hope that all makes sense.  I'm not trying to discourage you but rather point you at your goal from a different direction.

    I'm not sure if I have mentioned this at all but animation is hard! haha.

  • Thanks.

    LOL, yes, you mentioned animation is hard and have just watched the Stomp & Rivet walk cycle videos I've realized it may take me a week to even a month or to learn how to animate them as you've done satisfactorily. Although I'd/I'll be thrilled should I manage it, particularly the comical Rivet walk cycle.  

    Seeing those, it is very daunting, I was already daunted before the course, so now I'm just  stalling a bit so I won't be too disappointed with all the lots of time and work it will take for me to do a good animation of those. 

    I'm not interested in buying canned looped animations for any hobby games I develop or a motion capture device like a Kinect Sensor doesn't do much for me then a pre-canned animation loop I could buy doesn't already do.  

    So I'm stuck with trying to learn to be a good manual animator and, apparently, producing output glacially. I am helped that I've bought many models I can use in games so that is helpful as I won't have to do that.

    I am doing your CGC's entire "Animation in Blender" before I attempt the 2 1/2 minute dance since to music. That will have two characters but they won't be touching or exchanging objects.

    Based on my current progress that looks to be at least 3 months off though. If, once I'm ready to do that 1st independent animation, is there a CGC course for a 'bespoke animation critique', I guess you'd call it? Basically I do the animation in full independently and submit it to be picked apart by a professional.

    Thanks again.

  • crew

    HI Agro,

    Don't worry too much about speed when you are learning.  The speed will come.

    There is a lot to learn and a lot to practice with animation (yes you need to practice), so I think it's always better to aim for one level above where you are now.  

    I think it's a great idea to do the entire animation flow before starting your project.  In the Workflow and body mechanics course you will learn a lot more about the steps to get from the start of your animation to the end.

    Planning, blocking, spline, polish.

    There isn't a 'bespoke animation critique' course but you can always @mention me in a forum thread.

  • waylow,  It'll be a while until I'm trying anything outside the exercises for the course but thanks a lot.