Lesson #5 – Timing and Spacing

After the Introduction to the Principles of Animation in the Lesson 04 I will now explain Timing & Spacing using the example of a Bouncing Ball and the Animation of a Character Turn! 🙂

In this Lesson I used this lovely Rig “Alya” by Eyad Hussein https://eyad.tv/home/Alya2

It’s really a great rig and I suggest you to check it when will be availabe (you have to wait the first quarter of 2017 :P). But you can fill the pre-registration form on this link and you will receive an email once the rig is ready for download https://eyad.tv/home/alya_pre_registr…



Timing and Spacing RECAP

In this lesson we will see the main principles Timing and SpacingTiming_Spacing01 A GOOD TIMING makes the difference and can really give an edge to your animation!Timing_Spacing02.png

As I said in the Lesson 04, the TIMING is the speed and the rhythm of your animation, how many frames you use to make a movement, the SPACING is the variation of the speed during this movement.

  • If you have to reproduce a fast movement you need less frame
  • A slower movement….more frames


Example of different type of ball, a RUBBER ball, a BALLON and a BOWLING ball, with their different timing!





BOWLING ballbowling_ball.gif


The ball falls from point A to point B. It takes 10 frames to fall on the ground, this is the timing!Timing_Spacing08

this movement is generated by the gravity that push the ball on the groundTiming_Spacing09

 as it get closer to the ground it has an acceleration due to the decrease of air resistanceTiming_Spacing10

So we have more frames when the ball is high in the air and less frames before the contact. This is the SPACING, the variation of the speed between point A and B.Timing_Spacing11

After the contact we have a reverse of the acceleration, now the ball is pushed upward and it lift from the ground, moving fast at first and then, when it reach the high point it slow down its movement due to the opposite forces, the gravity that pull it downward and its own speed going upwardTiming_Spacing12

As it get closer again to the ground it accelerate again and we have al the consecutive bounces. Any bounce lose speed and force. The timing slow down at any bounce so do the high of the bounces.Timing_Spacing13An other physic phenomenon that happens during the bounces, is the Timing_Spacing14.png

The ball deforms its volume during the bounce. Stretching before and after the contact and squashing during the contact! Why? cause The gravity push the ball against the surface causing its deformation.

This is reality, in animation we can exaggerate to reach a more  cartoon effect!





When the ball bounces moving forward, it follows an elliptical path in the air, an ARC!
This gives to the bounces a natural feeling.  The forward movement starts linear and slow down in the last part, before the ball stops its movement. Timing_Spacing19.png

“Ok, but…”Timing_Spacing20.pngTiming_Spacing21.png

The choice of the timing is finalized to make the performance perfectly readable and interesting, thats why is also important to don’t create all the beats and accents with the same disance, intencity and speed!  Add variations in the timing and rhythm to make your animation more interesting!Timing_Spacing22.png

A good tip is to use a stopwatch to time yourself doing the shot,  in order to have a realistic reference to start with and to see how your body reacts to different actions and how you reach a certain position or how fast you do itTiming_Spacing23.png

And… Timing_Spacing25.png

This is my method, I always “see” the animation in my mind first, so that when I start to animate I already have clear in mind what to do and HOW to do itTiming_Spacing24.png

A quick example of timing applied to character animation: a character that turn its head.

Head_turn_fast_REFINEDShe turns fast cause she heard something, we have few frames… it’s a very fast movement

But, if we use more frames, we can have a totally different turn, she’s now very relaxed, and she’s just looking aroundHead_Turn_Slow_REFINED

So, the same action, a simple turn, but the different amount of frames makes the two animations completely differentTiming_Spacing26.png

An other thing that we can manage during the turn, is the spacing. When we create the first and last pose the software creates the linear interpolation between this two posesTiming_Spacing27.pngHead_turn_fast_LINEARNot very interesting, right?

But, let’s put into practice an other principles SLOW IN AND SLOW OUT, if we slow down the spacing in the last part, creating an in-between close to the final one, and we do the same at the beginning…Timing_Spacing30.png

and…we also add a moving hold at the end, so the movement doesn’t freeze but continues to move just a little bit, enough to be perceived by the human eyeTiming_Spacing31.png and if we also add some details like the overlap of the hair…


much better! 🙂

Let’s do the same with the slower turn, at the beginning we have just the two key poses, and the linear interpolationTiming_Spacing32.pngHead_Turn_Slow_LINEAR then we add a breakdown, pretty close to the first pose where she also makes an half blinkTiming_Spacing33.png

the slow in and the slow outTiming_Spacing34.png

 the moving hold at the endTiming_Spacing35.pnghair overlap and…

Head_Turn_Slow_REFINED…now the two turns have a  much more interesting spacing and the character looks more alive and appealing!Timing_Spacing36.png

Timing_Spacing37.pngNow you can watch the two tutorials “How to Animate a Bouncing Ball” and “Animate a Character Turn” and start to handle with timing and spacing!

after that I suggest you to create the two exercise based on this lesson

Exercise #1Exercise #2


In the comments add a link to your exercises and I’ll provide you a feedback! 😉



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