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Principles of Character Animation


Tricks to animating characters with a computer. ... Walt Disney: 'In most instances, the driving forces behind the action is the ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Principles of Character Animation

Principles of Character Animation
  • Keyframes
  • 2D vs 3D
  • Weight and size
  • The thinking character
  • Moving holds
  • Emotion
  • Readability of actions
  • A story trick
  • Ask why

Learning Objectives
  • Understand the principles of character animation.

  • References
  • Lasseter, John. Tricks to animating characters
    with a computer. ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics,
    Volume 35 ,  Issue 2, May 2001 45-47.
  • Available online.

What is Character Animation?
  • Character animation refers to any time sequence
    of visual changes from the picture of a characer.
  • The goal of character animation is to make
    characters that move in a convincing way to
    communicate personality and mood.
  • It is OK to use tricks to obtain the desired
    result like in traditional animation.

  • In classical animation
  • Keyframes are poses of the entire character at
    important times in the scene.
  • Generate the inbetweens afterwards.
  • In computer animation
  • Work in the hierarchy of a model.
  • Create keyframes for the different controls of
    the model.

  • In computer animation
  • Work in the hierarchy of a model.
  • Create keyframes for the different controls of
    the model articulation controls in the
  • Number of keyframes needed varies between levels.
  • Computer calculates the inbetweens based on a
    spline curve connecting the keyframe values.

2D versus 3D
  • Classical animation is 2D versus computer
    animation is 3D.
  • Create the animation viewing it at least from two
    views to see in 3D.
  • From two different camera angles, the scene may
    look completely different.
  • Can be used to generate crowds same character
    from different angles looks like different

2D versus 3D
Weight and Size
  • Traditional computer graphics techniques are good
    for making fixed objects look real.
  • For moving objects, more is required to make them
    look real.
  • Weight of objects influences the movement
  • Heavy object moves more slowly, slower to
    accelerate, more difficult to stop. Allow time to
    start, stop, change movement direction.
  • Light objects accelerate more easily, more prompt
    to move.

Weight and Size
  • Movement of an object depends on
  • Spacing between the poses themselves
  • Behave like the object it models
  • Timing of motion
  • Giant moves more slowly, starts more slowing,
    stops more slowly
  • Tiny character moves fast, starts fast and stops

The Thinking Character
  • Every movement or action exists for a reason.
  • Movements and actions are results of characters
    thought process.
  • Give life to the character as the thinking
  • Walt Disney In most instances, the driving
    forces behind the action is the mood, the
    personality, the attitude of the character or
    all three. Therefore, the mind is the pilot. We
    think of things before the body does them.

The Thinking Character
  • Anticipation always lead the eyes or the head
    eyes move first, then head, then body. The eyes
    are the window to the characters thoughts. Can
    be a couple of frames.
  • When an external force is driving the movement
    of the character, do not need anticipation by
    eyes movement.

Moving Holds
  • Difference between hand-drawn animation and
    computer animation
  • In hand-drawn animation, animate an action, then
    slow into a pose, and hold the drawing of that
    pose for several frames, before moving into
    action again.
  • Not in computer animation, causes the motion to
    die. Use a moving old instead have some part to
    move slowly, like an arm, a head, or the whole
    body. Keep character alive with even a slight
  • Pitfall of motion capture can be applied from a
    human to a human, but not to a chicken. Modify
    the motion capture to adapt it to the character.

  • Personality of the character conveyed through
    emotion. EX character happy ? movements faster
    character sad ? movements slower
  • Make characters different contrast of
    movement. Ex compare Luxo JR and Dad hitting the

Readability of Actions
  • Timing is important to making ideas readable
  • Anticipation of an action
  • Action itself
  • Reaction to the action (follow through).
  • Needs to be neither too slow, nor too fast.
  • Action must not be too fast so that the audience
    cannot understand its meaning.
  • Lead the eye of the audience to make action
    unmistakably clear.
  • Timing, staging and anticipation.
  • Must be done very clearly, as if the animator was
    saying Look at this, now look at this, and now
    look at this.
  • Action should not be completely stopped before
    starting another action. Keep a slight overlap
    to maintain a flow of continuity. Ex Luxo Jr,
    action leads constantly (no sound)

A Story Trick
  • In storytelling, timing of ideas and actions is
    important to lead the audience.
  • Animation should stay slightly ahead of
    audiences understanding, or slightly behind.
  • Action timed slightly ahead ? suspense and
  • Action timed slightly behind ? see the character
    discover what the audience already knows.
  • Makes audiences emotions stronger.

Ask Why
  • At every step of the production of an animation,
    ask yourself why?
  • In the story, the design, the staging, the
    animation, the editing, the lighting, the sound.
  • Character animation is when an object moves like
    it is alive, like it is thinking, like it is
    feeling, like it is moving following its thought