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.