Free 3D training | Disney’s 12 principles of animation: straight ahead and pose to pose
Master Disney’s 12 classic principles of animation in 3D with Steve Lambert’s regular series of articles on the fundamentals of CG. This week: straight ahead and pose to pose
Previously, Weta Workshop’s animation director Steve Lambert talked about squash and stretch, anticipation and staging. Now it’s time for principle number four: straight ahead and pose to pose.
FOR: Any software | TIME TAKEN: 3 hours | TOPICS COVERED: Straight ahead and pose to pose | ALSO REQUIRED: Maya (to view scene files)
Download the project and animation files for this training:
There are two methodologies you can use to create animation.
The first of these is known as ‘straight ahead’.
This is where you start at your first frame, then animate forwards through time one frame at a time until you get to the end of your shot.
Straight ahead offers spontaneity that can create fluid, fresh animations, which can be full of surprises. In some media, such as paint on glass, mixed media or stop-motion, straight ahead is more or less the only way to go.
There are several weaknesses to this approach: things can begin to wander; it can be hard to clean up or tweak; and you can miss timed marks.
It can be a bit like when you were a kid and you wrote a big title across the page, ran out of room for the last letters, and squashed them in at the end.
The second method is called ‘pose to pose’.
This is where you create important key frames (sometimes known as ‘extremes’) that describe the whole action, then go back and create the frames between those key poses to fill out the action.
Pose to pose is a great method for achieving well-timed animation: you can get a sense for how your shot is coming together and make sure that your characters are where they’re supposed to be at the right times.
However, pose to pose also has its disadvantages. It can often come across as staged, and you’re less likely to come up with happy accidents along the way.
Combining straight ahead and pose to pose
The most obvious way around the respective cons of these two methods is to derive a ‘combo’ approach.
This way, you get the best of both worlds: the spontaneity and freshness of straight ahead and the planning and arrangement of pose to pose.
You could achieve this by blocking out your key poses first, then use them as goalposts or marks to hit as you animate straight ahead ‘through’ them.
Or you might do a rough straight ahead run and see where it takes you – then go back, select poses from that run, and rework and re-time them.
Straight ahead also works beautifully on secondary motion such as cloth or floppy ears. Once your character is moving the way you want, you might do another straight ahead pass to put in extra dynamic motion.
Download the video files to see how straight ahead and pose to pose can be combined to result in better animation
In the examples I’ve put together in the download, I’ve tried to show how this combo method might be approached.
In P2PSA_01.mov, I went straight ahead on 5s (putting a key frame on every 5th frame) and blocked out my scene. I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out until I’d done this.
Next, in P2PSA_02.mov, I went back over the sequence and re-spaced my key frames for better timing. Then I started back at the beginning and animated straight through over the top.
Finally, in P2PSA_03.mov, I went back, made any timing adjustments where necessary, and did a pass of straight ahead on the ponytail and boxes.
There’s no ‘one way’ to create animation. Having a tried and true method is all very well, but it’s best not to let it become a formula.
Next time, we’ll be covering follow through and overlapping action.
Coming up online:
- 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 article was first published in issue 120 of 3D World, September 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 Saturday, June 2nd, 2012 at 8:00 am under Technique, Tutorials.
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Tags: 3D basics, animation tips, CG principles, Disney’s 12 classic principles of animation, Free 3D training, pose to pose, Steve Lambert, straight ahead