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The Key to Animation

Jun 11, 2012

in Mechanics

Well that might be a little bit of a misleading title, but I need to grab you guys and gals with something. A better title might be The guide to believable mechanics in Animation. In later post I will dive into the more “artistic” side of my addiction. Right now I would like to focus on the more technical aspect of animation.
I have had the opportunity to speak and share the story about my addiction in a few venues. I usually break it down into two piles, – what I like to call the Why and the How.

The Why refers to anything that deals with the more artistic side of animation. Examples would be character development, motivation, purpose, growth, arc. In short, anything that deals with acting and performance. The other side or the How is more of a technical list, this would contain things like weight, spacing, timing and overall animation mechanics.

I try and explain it this way. The Why will always dictate the actions and structure of the How but never the other way around. In the simplest terms, our personality or anything related to our gender or age will use the Why as our toolset to help us create what we imagine.

I came up with this theory over the past few years while working through a lot of my personal struggles with animation. I was further motivated to develop it after reading a little on Constantin Stanislavski (the “creator” of the Method). In the dictations taking by his students, Stanislavski spoke about HOW one needs to train the body to its physical peak. The idea being you would do acting exercise everyday so your body could transform itself in a physical way into the character you would need to perform.

In our addiction we take it one step further. As I noted in my first post, our industry has a long and sordid history with the use of live action reference. We don’t only take under consideration personality but age, gender, species and sometimes into objects. The key to quality animation is the start with a good source of reference, something genuine and believable.

WHY: Elder men walking using canes. HOW: rollover the image.

After some interesting feedback from a fellow animator (you know who you are, Mike!) it was suggested that I should dig a little deeper with the How & Why post since it was only getting interesting towards the end. So, The Key to Animation – Part 2 post will give more examples while try to elaborate on this in the limited venue of a post.

June 19, 2010 – Also see the Graph Editor (translate Y) for both the Elder man walking and the Young girl skipping.

Stephen Sloper Jun 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

These roll overs are a great! Looking forward to future posts Tal. 🙂

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