Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Anticipation, Arcs and Overlap Oh My!

I had this posted on another blog, but now that a new school semester is about to start I thought I would repost it here.

As a teacher your always getting asked questions about what the secret is, the formula or the answer to creating good animation. Many times I would say there aren't any formulas or secrets just the principles of animation. I was wrong, and I think I've figured it out; the secret formula is the principles of animation. I'll break it down to the most important ones for me, keep in mind all twelve are important to creating great animation. Here's my short list Timing, Anticipation, Arcs, Posing, Squash and Stretch and Overlap. Without these you got nothing with them you might have something. I see too many assignments that generally don't include any of these. My question is why don't people use these principles or think to use them? It's rather simple I make a checklist starting with Timing; I make sure that the scene isn't even, and then I start analyzing my individual motions making sure they are not even also. Posing is next, looking for tangents, silhouette, attitude, complex shapes, awkward shapes, balance, etc. Then I make sure I'm using anticipation before my major moves, gestures or actions. Next on the list is Arcs, checking the wrists, nose, fingertips, root, shoulders, etc. I'm checking all of these parts to main camera in my shot. Finally I think about the overlap, you might say your character doesn't have a tail or floppy hat so what is there to overlap? The whole body is made up of elements that can drag, overlap, and follow through. The arms are a huge element that you can apply the principle of overlap too. Fingers, legs, eyebrows, jaws, eyelids and many more elements can also all overlap depending on the action. So next time your animating a shot or a test maybe think about using a checklist. It works for me.

One last thing no matter what you do, above all everything you do should support the acting and storytelling of the shot or test.

--Dr. Stephen G.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks dr.stephen,

what you've posted here is pixar 1 class summary for students who can't attend AAU. great.

10:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Dr. Stephen, thank you so much! And by the way, your reel is fantastic-awesome! loved those scenes in the movies, especially the Monsters stuff. I saw it on your blog, kekeke=)

I wish I could go to AAU=(

12:10 AM

Blogger Aldo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:29 AM

Blogger Andrew Doll said...

Thanks Dr. Stephen for this bit of information on what one should run through while animating a scene. Unfortunately in stopmotion...which I'm currently working's sometimes tough to remember all of these principles while trying to pay attention to many characters on screen at the same time, but creating a checklist of these principles is definitely a great that some animators may only need to have handy for a few scenes before it starts to become second nature again while they are working on a scene.

Thanks again.


6:09 AM

Blogger Andrew said...

Great stuff Dr Stephen, I agree that there is only the principles of animation to achieve great looking work but I think above all of the principles is change, change in timing, in squash and stretch, and in speed fast to slow.
This also applies to acting from passive to aggressive, the changes of mood is what make characters interesting and even in films, the structure and the pacing has to change in some way to make it appealing, it is one of the underlying principles of art.
Without the changes, if things are constantly frantic or always slow it becomes boring and monotonous.
Can I please add to your comment on overlap, I have seen, many times, when people have every thing overlapping on a character and it just looks flappy, losing its muscularity, overlap and any of the other principles have to be used intelligently and where appropriate and not by rote.
Sorry I didn’t mean this to become some sort of rant or lecture, I would just like to say that this is one of the best sites on animation that I have ever found and I am a regular visitor.

Long may you continue and more power to all your elbows.


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