I hear as a rule of thumb proficient animators should produce 3 sec. of animation for every 8 hours of work. Anybody agree or disagree? I could sure use advice on efficient workflow techniques. 

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I think that completely depends on the type of animation, complexity, number of characters and whether you shoot on singles or doubles just to name a few factors.
I'm doing 3,5 seconds on average now and in a month start working on a project where I am expected to produce 8 seconds. But in a very different style.

I would usually manage more like 6 to 8 seconds of animation in a day, once I'm set up and actually starting to animate.  (Setting up can take longer than you think, just adjusting the lights and camera to look better from a new angle.) Some shots are simple and I can do 12 or 16 seconds, even 30 on some rare occasions (but probably a 10 or 12 hour day).  Some are really slow and difficult and even 3 seconds might be a struggle.  Things that slow it down might be lots of characters onscreen, or a camera move with easing in and out as well as the puppet moving, or a difficult rig to support the character, or the puppet being further back in the set so I can barely reach it and the tiedowns underneath.  A difficult puppet that moves too much, or bounces back and doesn't move enough and needs several adjustments before I can take the shot will do it too - or a puppet that breaks so I have to add some external support wire on the side away from camera to hold it up until the end of the shot.  There are also shots that go wrong, I bump the tripod or it just isn't working, and I have to start again - I might have shot 6 seconds to get 3 seconds of usable animation.

It also depends on how fussy you are - I shot faster when I was starting out, because I didn't  have a frame grabber and realise how bad it was - jerky, bad timing, I didn't know until I processed the film a week later so I just kept on animating.  Now I check each frame before taking the shot, and might make a couple of adjustments to get it smoother before I'm satisfied.

Productions like Laika's Kubo and the Two Strings require such a high standard, there are pop-throughs and rehearsals beforehand and a lot of attention paid to every part of the puppet, so I can well believe it would take a lot longer.

I shoot on ones, at 24 or 25 fps. 

Great speed. I gotta up my game.

Are pop-throughs like in betweens? I see how that is useful in cel aniz but how can that help w/ a puppet?

To date, I use clay. I gotta work fast and falling/breaking puppets is a way of life. I shoot on ones as well. I liked twos but it adds to clean up & cut-out time in post. Time remapping in AE makes timing a non-issue.

Thanks for the responses. Reading them reminds me of the book "The War of Art".  Do you all ever find being forced to be separated from a project for weeks then trying to pick-up where you left off?

StopmoNick said:

I would usually manage more like 6 to 8 seconds of animation in a day, once I'm set up and actually starting to animate.  (Setting up can take longer than you think, just adjusting the lights and camera to look better from a new angle.) Some shots are simple and I can do 12 or 16 seconds, even 30 on some rare occasions (but probably a 10 or 12 hour day).  Some are really slow and difficult and even 3 seconds might be a struggle.  Things that slow it down might be lots of characters onscreen, or a camera move with easing in and out as well as the puppet moving, or a difficult rig to support the character, or the puppet being further back in the set so I can barely reach it and the tiedowns underneath.  A difficult puppet that moves too much, or bounces back and doesn't move enough and needs several adjustments before I can take the shot will do it too - or a puppet that breaks so I have to add some external support wire on the side away from camera to hold it up until the end of the shot.  There are also shots that go wrong, I bump the tripod or it just isn't working, and I have to start again - I might have shot 6 seconds to get 3 seconds of usable animation.

It also depends on how fussy you are - I shot faster when I was starting out, because I didn't  have a frame grabber and realise how bad it was - jerky, bad timing, I didn't know until I processed the film a week later so I just kept on animating.  Now I check each frame before taking the shot, and might make a couple of adjustments to get it smoother before I'm satisfied.

Productions like Laika's Kubo and the Two Strings require such a high standard, there are pop-throughs and rehearsals beforehand and a lot of attention paid to every part of the puppet, so I can well believe it would take a lot longer.

I shoot on ones, at 24 or 25 fps. 

Do you ever try compositing to cut back needing to animate multiple figures?

Jasper Kuipers said:

I think that completely depends on the type of animation, complexity, number of characters and whether you shoot on singles or doubles just to name a few factors.
I'm doing 3,5 seconds on average now and in a month start working on a project where I am expected to produce 8 seconds. But in a very different style.

I do sometimes yeah. But I've found personally that animating a couple of puppets at the same time doesnt neccesarily complicate things. It just takes time. When you would shoot separate it would just be the same ammount of time but chopped up in little bits. But sometimes it can be super helpfull say when you have some characters doing loops and others doing straight forward animation throughout the shot.
I try to do it as little as possible though.
I believe one of the beauties of stop motion is that the objects are really there and grounded, and compositing can take Some of that away if you dont watch out. But those are just my oldfashioned purist thoughts... :)

I agree.

Jasper Kuipers said:

I do sometimes yeah. But I've found personally that animating a couple of puppets at the same time doesnt neccesarily complicate things. It just takes time. When you would shoot separate it would just be the same ammount of time but chopped up in little bits. But sometimes it can be super helpfull say when you have some characters doing loops and others doing straight forward animation throughout the shot.
I try to do it as little as possible though.
I believe one of the beauties of stop motion is that the objects are really there and grounded, and compositing can take Some of that away if you dont watch out. But those are just my oldfashioned purist thoughts... :)

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