Behind-the-Scenes: QDancer Animations

by Abby @ Quaver on September 27, 2012

in At Quaver HQ,In the Quaver Classroom!,

Let’s go Behind-the-Scenes with Quaver Artist Andy as he tells us how those QDancer Dancers came to be!

Take it away, Andy!

Hey, howdy, hey, everybody!  I’m Andy, one of the artists at Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music, and I’m excited to tell you about the fantasticness that is QDancer!

But first, a story:

Once upon a time, in a tiny little attic, in the tiny little town of Nashville, Tennessee, lived three artists, a Quaver, and a Hannah!  As it tends to happen, when one works in an attic with a Quaver, people constantly come up and have brainstorming sessions with the Quaver!

Sometimes they brainstorm about new music-writing creative applications.  Sometimes they brainstorm about mini-games.  Sometimes they brainstorm about songs and Interactive Whiteboard Activities.  And sometimes, they brainstorm about dancing cartoons!

The original idea for QDancer came from Quaver President and Co-Creator Dave Mastran. Now I wasn’t the first artist to bring Dave’s idea to life because I was off creating other super awesome stuff. But I’ve gathered some early sketches together for you, so you can see the journey our dancers went on to get to what we know and love as QDancer now!

 One artist started off with this neat set of work that we were initially going to use for QDancer.

We all looked at it, and thought that it was going to be pretty cool!  As we continued to brainstorm for QDancer, we decided that we were going to have this great ballerina character on the screen, and you would be able to choose your costume for the character, and make her do about any dance move imaginable!

Then came a list of dance moves. 

We wanted about 30 dance moves for the ballerina.  When it came time to animate these dance moves, we had to do a little bit of math, which is a little bit of a problem, since we’re artists, and we don’t like to do math.  But it had to be done!

  • So we started with our 30 dance moves each being 4 to 8 beats.
  • We’ll say that half were 4 beats and half were 8 beats. 
  • That took our count up to 180 beats for the ballerina.
  • Then we had to figure out how many drawings it would be per beat.
  • runs at 30 frames per second, and the tempo would be 100 beats per minute and we wanted to animate the ballerina on 2’s, and that math came out to being 9 drawings per beat.
  • Take our 9 drawings per beat and multiply it by 180 beats and we came out to 1,620 drawings!


So the first artist got to drawing.  And he drew.  And he drew.  And he drew some more!  Then, someone suggested alternate costume choices.  So now we’re not only drawing 1,620 drawings for just one costume, but we’d have to do another 1,620 drawings for that same character wearing another costume!

Holy point shoes, Quaver!  This is going to take a while!


Then we decided to add Hip-Hop dancing to the mix …

… and it became apparent that the drawing method just wasn’t going to work.  It would simply take too long to make that many drawings for all the characters we would want to add in the future with alternate costumes!

So we switched from drawn animations to the 3D model that we use now!



I personally think she looks cooler anyway.

So now that we have a 3D character model, we can be a little more efficient with our animation. Rather than drawing out each body part over and over, we go through frame after frame and adjust the position of each body part.  The shoulders, the neck, the spine, the feet, each finger… they all need to be adjusted just a little bit for each frame for the animation to happen correctly.

The computer helps a little bit by calculating the distance between each pose, but we still have to tweak about 99% of the frames.  We still have to render out roughly 1,620 images for each character for each costume, but the animation process goes a little bit faster since we’re not spending the time coloring each frame.


Thanks to Andy for sharing this behind-the-scenes story! Be sure to check out QDancer in Quaver’s Studio at today!


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Cate September 30, 2012 at 11:49 pm

WOW! I’m impressed!!
Dedication pays off again : D


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