Lesson #4 –Principles of Animation RECAP
The secret of animation is enclosed in the Principles of Animation!
That you will have to learn, understand and well “impress” in your mind if you want to became a good animator! 😉
but let’s quickly see “how animation works” first. The first thing you should understand is that animation is composed by:
A timeline (the series of frames that compose each seconds, sequenced over the time)
On this frames we create some KEYS (the poses that we create and impress in the timeline, in the software are represented by the red stick)
we start setting the KEY POSES, the most important and stronger poses that describe the action (in case you are doing an Acting animation) or the EXTREME KEYS (in case we are doing an action or something connected to body mechanic like a walk cycle) this are the pose at the start and the end, or the extreme lower and higher position, or the forward and backward.
Between the Key poses (or the extremes) the software will create an automatic linear interpolation, too avoid a mechanic and linear movement we add some BREAKDOWN KEYS approximately in the middle of the 2 key poses, and can be called also Passing Positions cause are the poses that we have during the movement from A to B, “how we reach position B from position A”. After the breakdown, we go to create some IN-BETWEENS KEYS (it’s not necessary to have a key on each frames, but just the strictly necessary to have a nice movement). With the in-betweens we take control of the interpolation created by the software: adjusting positions, spacing, arcs and so on.
Clear? 🙂 Let’s sum it again:
Ok! Let’s see all the Principles of Animation, that were showed in the amazing book “Illusion of life” by two Disney Animators in 1981:
Let’s start …!
The TIMING is the speed and the rhythm of your animation, it change depending on where you set the Extreme Poses.
MORE FRAMES: slower movement
LESS FRAMES: faster movement
The SPACING is the variation of the speed during the change of position
SLOW SPACING: less change in position
FAST SPACING: more change
SLOW-IN & SLOW-OUT are used to soften the movement at the start and the end. To make it more fluid and nice to see, we manage the position of the in-betweens, if we move the in-betweens closed to the starting pose, the extreme one, the movement will starts slower, and if we do the same for the in-betweens closed to the final pose, the last extreme, the movement will also ends slower.
A bouncing ball would STRETCH its volume before the contact and would SQUASH when it’s on the ground. During a walk the body chest would squash when the body go down, because of the weight, and would stretch when the body go up. In facial, when a character close his eyes (especially during a big change of expression) it would squash the head when the eyes are closed, and would stretch for few frames when it open the eyes again.
The ANTICIPATION is used to make a movement more readable or to create a more cartoon funny effects, it’s a movement that happens before the main one, usually in the opposite direction.
If the object moves forward, we add a backward movement 3 or 4 frames before.
If we are animating a character turning from right to left and the head leads the movement, the rest of the body follow the head. So the head moves first, then the chest, then the arms and so on. This parts FOLLOW the head movement. During this movement we can have different reactions of each parts: before turn on the left, the arms could bend in the opposite direction, OVERLAPPING the ACTION.
To make the action more interesting, or to make the intentions and the emotions of the character more clear, we can use SECONDARY ACTIONS to intensify the general feeling of the animation. During a walk, the main action is the movement of the feet and hip, but we can make the character turning his head looking around or the arms swinging, this are secondary actions.
When we create a pose, we can EXAGGERATE it to make it more appealing, or during a movement we can make it stronger and extreme to emphasize it. NEVER BE AFRAID TO EXAGGERATE! 😀 Always think, is interesting or readable enough? Take inspiration from reality but always add your creativity!
APPEAL MAKES THINGS INTERESTING!
The APPEAL of a character mostly depending on the design and the story, but…we can make it more strong with poses and animation. Emphasize a pose to make the appeal of the character instantly readable!
Any movement we create, follows a path and generate an invisible ARC.
A smoothed, circular arc makes the movement fluid, more realistic and nice to watch. A straight path makes thinghs more mechanic.
When we create a shot, first of all we need to plan what where are going to show and we will try to focus the attention in the correct way, so we need to work on the STAGING. Setting the camera, the character and any other assets in the scene in a way that the main action is clearly readable and with a good rhythm, so that anybody can follow the scene and well understand what’s going on!
There are two way to start an animation: STRAIGHT AHEAD & POSE TO POSE
If you chose for STRAIGHT AHEAD means that you start creating the first pose and you go “straight ahead” up to the last one.If you chose for POSE TO POSE means that you start creating the main poses, the ones necessary to tell the story and better describe the main actions, and in a second time you go to add the other poses, breakdowns and in-betweens.
This was just a quick explanation of the Principles of Animation, in the next lessons I’ll go trough and deeper to explain each of this principles !
So… don’t miss the next lesson: TIMING!