SMART MOVES blog
Every now and then I'll pencil-animate an action, just for the heck of it! So I thought I'd like to share these with you from time to time and offer a little instruction about the piece that will maybe help you with your own animation in the future...
August, 2011: I'm about to say goodbye to a number of valued teaching colleagues and wanted to give them a little ‘goodbye’ gift, through my animation. This pencil test therefore shows a departing walk that I hope conveys both my sadness at leaving, and yet my fast-stepping excitement in taking my pencil onwards to new and fresh horizons.
The walk is loosely based on a ‘backward sneak’ action. It strongly uses a ‘slowing-in/slowing-out’ process – expecially around the ‘passing positions’ of each stride. Note too that the action emphasizes the need for posed ‘balance’ in action – i.e. the character’s core center of gravity is always positioned over one, or two, points of contact at every stage of the action. I believe that not paying attention to this is a major failing of much of the animation I see - in the sense that if a character is out of balance with its point of contact with the floor it will always look (and more importantly, 'feel') wrong to the viewer. (Unless the character is drunk or falling over for some reason!) This was an epiphany I learned after a decade or so of animating myself and I still have to remind myself of it in everything I do!
(Note: This principle is even more important to CG animators, who should examine the balance of their action from all viewpoints – whether or not the audience will be seeing things from those final camera points of view or not – as even if you don’t see an error in the character’s balance from that viewpoint you will most certainly feel its there in one way or another.)
This 'departing walk' action was not achieved by establishing key pose gesture positions and then simply inbetweening them. Much of the ‘inbetweened’ action is not done along straight lines but on a frame-by-frame arcing path of action, especially where the feet reach back before contact. The hand animation (although not perfect as yet) is effectively an afterthought in terms my animation process. The bulk of the other action was arrived at first, minus the hand action, then the hand movement was added as the last part in my decision-making process. Were this scene to be used for a professional production, the entire pencil test action would still have to be given a final polish of course.