Personal Animation Production Critique

Here is a personal animated short of mine and critique for it.

I feel it is only right I rip into my own work just as I did earlier with work of others.  So here is a personal animated short movie of mine from 2009 and critique for it.


I made the animated short Flight or Fight in spring 2009. It was a technical exercise that got out of hand, big time. It goes against what I recommend, to begin with I had no story to tell. You can read about the production process here, a sort of an making of. I’m a bit ashamed to show this short for it is anything but my best work, but having said many times that I’ve learned by doing I think I am obliged to show this, too, as I learned so much from it.

Short is also available in HD(recommended) at Vimeo.


I will judge the animation on how it achieves the illusion of life, or not – following the animation principles which I wrote about here.

Story takes place underwater.  One of the top animators in game industry told me, kindly, that it was an extremely silly choice – very hard animate.
Underwater setting provides water resistance which acts like a brake and a force, both at once.  It will have effect on Dynamics, Balance, Follow Through and in small ways pretty much everything else. In short it will make the animation look floaty, artificial, which is a problem already with normal 3D animation and underwater setting only adds to it.


All animation seems to forget water resistance except when convinient. Underwater, especially with any type of current, holding balance and staying still would take far more of an effort than shown here. Moves are also too effortless and he Fishman stays on the bottom like glue when he wants to and he sinks too fast. Dynamics, Dynamic Balance, Anticipation
Fishman movements lack fluidity, the round flowing feel and and up’n down and side to side movement you’d expect from underwater motion. Arcs, Variance, Anticipation
Fish movements in particular lack weight and strenght – the speed and acceleration and decelartion is not quite right. Dynamic, Anticipation, Arcs, Timing
Neither character changes their volume in motion. Lack thereof is best seen where the fish is caught under the big root and fights free. Squash and Stretch


In addition to the above, my animation has acting problems.  The fisman doesn’t convey his thoughts well enough.  Stronger poses and better timing would help – and really better acting, too.

Post scriptum

Regardkess of the short not meeting my standards in animation, I’m quite happy with it as a technical achievement – that I got it done despite the problems.  The colours are nice too and the mood works sometimes. Of course the most important thing is I learned a lot.
What about you – any production experiences to share, or anything related? Feel free to write below.

4 replies on “Personal Animation Production Critique”

visually looks veryy good!

any tips on ur lighting scheme?…n how long did it take to render and on how many sys?…

sry for the questions but they wud help to plan my prodn.

Thank you Sunil,
I used only one system to create this project (with the exception of sounds and music which are from some nice people I know). I mention using one system in here: The important specs were these: Intel Core 2 E6400 @ 2800Hz, 4Gb Ram, Ati X1900XT, WinXP 32bit. Like said in the article, I would not do this again this way. And I would definitely render with more systems, rent rendering cores online or something similiar.

The lighting: I use many many spotlights from above to bring in sunlight with slightly varying intensity. Idea is to create global illumination type of smooth look to the light without using GI itself because it demands lots of computing power. Lots of spotlights with shadow mapping(not ray traced shadows) render faster than GI. Of course I also place ‘bouncelights’ below, spotlights again, to provide reflected light. It is coloured close to the colour of the ground. Additionally I have deep blue-green directional light coming from the sides and from the deep sea to give ambient light to everything. To simplify this whole setup: light from above + reflected light + ambient light from sides.
Additionally for the sunlight-spotlight I use an animated texture as a projection. This texture mimics the way light is dispersed at the water surface. Look at any (not too deep) swimming pool in sunlight and you see the effect on the bottom. If you need to make a texture light this, ask and I will try find the program I used to make mine.

thk u so much for replying Niko.
fantastic to see someone so bravely attempt such a project with just one computer. can only imagine wht u wud do given sufficient systems…
and thk u 4 the info on lighting as well…really informative…(one day i wish to hv such a good command on the subject like u ;))

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