This is a post for the animators out there. I can pretty much guarantee anyone else will be bored silly. Way more bored than you'd usually be browsing my crappy blog.
Flipping Paper. Pages. Rolling. Whatever. You know what I'm talking about.
In my rather humble opinion, page flipping is one of the most important developments in the history of animation. Animation is drawing, sure. It's about character, sure. But it's not about individual drawings, individual character.
Animation is movement.
Flipping pages allows a 2D animator to animate in motion. It's not just a tool for testing those drawings of yours. Really good animators I've seen flip constantly, instinctively, and they draw while flipping. Because they are drawing in motion - they aren't drawing static images. It's like animating in real-time. They are feeling the movement. It's an artistic thing in that it bypasses the intellectual in a way. And, yeah, I'd say it's important. I've seen excellent animators whose actual drawing skills aren't up to par. But what they do have is movement and, more importantly, timing.
Fixing up the drawings? Assistants can do that. Probably better than many animators.
But an assistant can't fix bad movement and timing.
Movement and timing is something you feel. It's a slightly different way of thinking and not everyone has it but, when you flip pages, it can get you to feel that movement and timing. You're seeing things as you draw - not just the drawings, but the movement. And, as we've established, that's what animation is.
As I'm moving into Flash and these newfangled gadgets you crazy kids are calling "computers", I find that there is no software equivalent. Yeah, there's this onion skinning thing where you can see the images much as you would on a lightbox but that only allows you to plot your drawings on an intellectual level. You can't animate while feeling that movement. It's now an entirely disconnected process. You can scroll along the timeline to test the movement but that's not the same as animating in motion.
So animators must become scientists and not artists. Without being able to feel the movement, you must resort to a clinical evaluation of where the next drawing or pose should be.
This, in my opinion, is a real problem. How do we get the page flipping back? Is animation becoming a science and not an art?