A lot of the time, animators forget that the key to good animation and VFX isn’s actually good animation (I know that sounds weird, but go with me here). It’s good direction. Don’t get me wrong, good animation is important, but without good direction it falls apart. Take a look at this title sequence from HBO’s Carnivale, and you’ll see what good direction and planning can lead to:
Easily one of the best title sequences I’ve ever seen. And it’s clear it was planned out really carefully.
This gets even harder when working with a combo of Live action and CGI. This spot for Euro Pride, as covered by Justin Cone at Motionographer has great direction, and while the stylized look of the CGI character may not be your taste (although I think it is perfect for the piece), from a directorial standpoint, you have to admit, it is a fantastic piece of work. You have to really plan things out when you are mixing live action with CGI. And when it;s done right, even if it doesn’t look real, it looks great.
To make the point even further, check out Ryan Vs. Dorkman 2.
I’ll be the first to tell you – doing Star Wars lightsaber effects while fun, is just overdone at this point. We’ve all made a lightsaber effect, or maybe an X-wing flyby (at least I have, early in my animation career, not to mention an exploding planet or two).
But you look at the work of these guys, and you say – man these dudes really knew what they were doing. I love it. I wish I had half their vision and foresight in the filmmaking process.
So in CGI, good direction and careful planning is crucial for a successful end-product. Watch this lecture by Eric Escobar for more on that. You’ll be glad you did.