Free 3D training: Disney’s 12 classic principles of animation: anticipation
Master Disney’s 12 classic principles of animation in 3D with Steve Lambert’s regular series of articles on the fundamentals of CG. This issue: anticipation
Back in 1981, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston – two of Disney’s ‘Nine Old Men’ – published The Illusion of Life: a landmark book that set out in print the 12 principles of animation that have guided the company’s animators since the 1930s.
In this series, Weta Workshop’s animation director Steve Lambert will show you how to apply these classic animation principles to your 3D work.
Last week we covered the concepts behind squash and stretch; this week it’s all about the next move.
Last time, we talked about squash and stretch: this time, we’ll look at anticipation, a principle that is all about broadcasting thought, intent and directing focus
FOR: Any software | TIME TAKEN: 10 minutes | TOPICS COVERED: Anticipation | ALSO REQUIRED: Maya (to view scene files)
Download the project and animation files for this training: fundamentals2.zip (10.4MB)
Anticipation can be used to prepare the viewer for an action about to be performed. There are many obvious examples, such as a pitcher winding up to throw a ball, or a bow being pulled to fire an arrow. It is the reverse action of the one about to follow.
Anticipation is not limited to the character performing the action. One can direct attention to another action or object – for example, a look or gesture (possibly off-screen) will direct us to something happening out of our focus area, or even indicate to us to an object that the character might be about to pick up.
Anticipation can also imply thought, because it shows that the character intends to do something and that they are not just moving from one position to another.
Most actions (with the exception of mechanised movement) have some sense of anticipation, and the bigger or dramatic the action, the bigger the preceeding anticipation.
But it can also be very subtle – the weight shift from one leg to another before starting a walk or the intake of breath before a sigh.
I’ve made a few examples to illustrate the above. In the first clip (Anticipation_01.mov), I’ve used little to no anticipation on either character.
When the first one runs off, it comes as a surprise and the viewer’s attention may or may not be in the right place, therefore they possibly miss the first part of the action. This can make for jarring viewing and confuse the narrative.
In the second clip (Anticipation_02.mov), I’ve applied a degree of anticipation to both the characters. You focus on the boy as he pulls back before leaning in; then your attention is pulled to the girl before she runs off. It’s not much, but it’s enough to prepare you for their manoeuvres.
In the third and final clip (Anticipation_03.mov), I’ve exaggerated the anticipation to really wind up the run. This is also an example of a ‘surprise’ anticipation, where the anticipation might indicate one thing is about to happen, but another actually takes place.
In this case, the viewer might think she’s leaning in to respond to the boy, but this movment is then used to reverse her direction.
As with any of these guidelines, anticipation can easily be overdone, and you should experiment until you achieve the timing that works best. Just don’t forget the 13th and unwritten principle – the principles of animation are tools, not rules.
That’s it for this week. Next time, we’ll look at principle three: staging.
Squash and stretch
Coming up online:
- Straight ahead and pose to pose
- Follow through, overlapping action
- Slow in, slow out
- Secondary action
- Solid design
This tutorial uses the ‘Andy’ rig created by John Doublestein for the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Want to learn more about animation?
(This series was first published in issue 117 of 3D World, June 2009.)
About the author
Steve Lambert has been working in the CG industry since 2001. Currently director of animation at Weta Workshop in New Zealand, his recent feature film work includes Prince Caspian and Avatar
on Monday, May 14th, 2012 at 11:25 am under Technique, Tutorials.
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Tags: animation tips, anticipation, CG principles, Disney’s 12 classic principles of animation, Free 3D training, Squash and stretch, Steve Lambert