26th Apr 2021 | Open Movie | Sprite Fright
Sprite Fright is Blender's new Open Movie, now in development. You can follow progress and updates on the Cloud. In this week’s bitesize post, Animator Pablo Fournier shares advice on making motion blur the old-fashioned way.
Pablo has been animating since he was a kid. As a grown-up, his first gig was in 2012, working on the Spanish TV series Sendokai Champions. “It was a mix of Star Wars and Power Rangers, but then they all played football,” Pablo laughs. “It was a bit weird but super cool. The quota for TV is insane though. We were doing something like eight seconds per day. In that environment, you learn to be fast and productive, but you miss a bit of refinement. You need that in movies, which is what I wanted to make, so I went back to animation school.”
“When you’ve been animating for a long time, it’s difficult to learn new stuff,” Pablo says, “But on Sprite Fright the thing I put the most effort into was Grease Pencil. In particular, using Grease Pencil for smear frames.”
For the non-specialists: a smear frame mimics motion blur without relying on render settings. Pablo explains, “You create a coloured shape that indicates where the object has come from and where it’s headed. So you have one frame on the left side of the shot, and one on the right. Then you create an in-between with this coloured shape getting bigger and bigger. It’s like an old cartoon. It has to be super-fast, so your eye catches the colour going from one point to another, but doesn’t register what’s happening.”
“For Sprite Fright, we’re aiming for something more cartoony and stylized. So we decided to create this blur effect with shapes.” Practising an old technique required learning new tricks. “I had to re-learn the small amount of Grease Pencil I knew,” Pablo continues. “It was a bit scary at the beginning: Grease Pencil has evolved so much over the years, from a simple drawing tool to being able to do so much. It was intimidating. It took some time to realize that it’s easier than it looks.”
Interested in Grease Pencil? Pablo recommends this tutorial from a famous name: Dedouze. It covers everything you need to get going, delivered with Dedouze's trademark charm and creativity. Study it together with Pablo’s examples: you’ll soon be making smear frames like Wile E. Coyote plummeting into the Grand Canyon.