What is a Timing Lock vs a Picture Lock? - Animation Production!
Whether you are working in 2D or 3D, if you are on a feature or a TV show, there will be a Timing Lock and a Picture Lock! They also come at 2 different parts of your production too and they are SUPER SUPER SUPER IMPORTANT.
Timing Lock = means your Animatic or Delivery Animation is locked to Time. No timing changes can happen.
Picture Lock = means your Animatic or Delivery Animation is locked to Picture. No picture AND timing changes can happen.
Before we get into that: I always call these Locks the “Windmill moment”. In Back to the Future 3, Doc Brown shows the idea of how to get back by the train pushing the Dolorean time machine up to 88mph on a track that doesnt have an end. However, once they pass the Windmill they won’t be able to slow down, it’s a no turning back moment. That is why I use this metaphor all the time (that and I love that movie). I would encourage your time to think of these locks in the seriousness of this way. Once you timing lock, theres no going back. Once you picture lock, there’s no going back.
WHY do we have these locks? Why do we have both?!
Notes are awesome. In the editing bay, at the storyboard artists desk, emails from wherever, there will be notes upon notes upon notes. At a certain point we have to say NO to more notes. There’s a schedule to keep! This is literally what these locks are. After a timing lock, no timing things can change. We can do Picture changes (color swaps, rough boards to clean boards, non timing retakes in Post). Once the Picture Lock happens, nothing else can change.
The 2 Locks come during Animatics. At a certain point in the schedule (decided by your Line Producer) the episode will timing lock. This is why we prioritize notes as well. We usually ALWAYS want to Timing fixes first. What does this signal to start and why do we do this one first? It allows the Track Reading, Animation Timer, etc to start. So we overlap peoples time. While those positions start we can still do picture fixes. Maximizing time.
Then we will have a Picture Lock, no more new boards can go in. Now that those people above I mentioned are wrapping up stuff, other parts of production kick off for Animation or Animation shipping. Animation Checker can check boards, final review of a Lead Sheet, Storyboard Director Notes, lots of stuff.
This is the final locked ANIMATIC for the movie act, show, etc.
Same rules apply for Timing Lock. We prioritize Timing Retakes FIRST. What does a Timing Lock kick off? This time in Post it kicks off Music, Sound, Translation, Dubbing, and more all while Picture stuff can keep going.
If you don’t do a proper timing lock, you have to make sure ALL changes are given to all these departments, the frame counts slip, ITS A MESS. It’s also important to send out Retakes (if you are using another Studio) and track timing ones because we need them BACK for the lock.
Same rules for the Picture Lock. While all those other people are working, we can knock out the rest of the Picture retakes. At the end of this, the movie act, TV, anything should be DONE. The only thing left would be QC related problems or un-broadcastable retakes (usually caught and done in an Online Edit).
LOCKS ARE SO IMPORTANT!