OK, I've got a little pet peeve I want to take out for a walk. Don't worry, I'll scoop up after him. :)
When I was supervising I'd always get a bit tweaked when CG animators would show me their blocking and say "It's not animated yet, this is just blocking."
Just blocking? You mean like "This wound is not serious, it's just a great white shark bite."?
Blocking is worth way more than being labeled with some throw away moniker like "just blocking".
I'd often reply- "Blocking is animation! Blocking has more to do with good animation than anything else you'll do. So yes, it is animated. It's just not done yet." Even now when I'm not supevising I still cringe everytime I hear an animator say "Oh, it's not animated yet, it's just blocking."
Excuse me while I slap my forehead.
To me the art of animation comes down100% to having great ideas with sincere acting. However I think that the craft of animation comes down 85% to pose, breakdown and timing. You know, that "blocking stuff". The other 15% is nice and it can often elevate good fundamentals to a great bit of animation, but that other 15% cannot rescue poorly posed, poorly patterned and poorly timed work. So in my mind planning and blocking ARE animation, and I'd propose that blocking and timing have far more to do with real animation than clean up and polish.
If you ask an old timer traditional animator what he's doing when he's drawing his keys and breakdowns and working his timing charts he'd answer "Why, I'm animating. What does it look like I'm doing?" You'd get nowhere trying to convince such a fellow that he's not really "animating yet", he's "just blocking". He'd look at you like you were an idiot. So why do so many of us in CG treat this foundational element of our work with such disregard? Because the motion isn't all spliney yet? So who's the animator? Milt Kahl who draws the keys and breakdowns and works out the timing charts? Or is it his assistant who inbetweens the work? Or is it the clean up artist who preps the drawings for inking? The way some of us talk in CG we'd give more value to the clean up artist or the assistant than the animator. No wonder so much of our work is bland and lifeless, stuck in a rut of sameness. We don't think we're really animating until we're cleaning up, but by then it's too late to fix anything. We are an army of clean up artists masquerading as animators. And I'd dare say the work shows it sometimes. We can't see the forest for the leaves, never mind seeing the trees.
I think those of us who have been animating in CG from the start need to get beyond this idea that noodling curves and doing endless previews and tweaks is "animation" while planning, thinking through and constructing solid poses and figuring out great timing is "just blocking". When we understand this I think the quality of our work will grow by leaps and bounds.