Level: BEGINNER |
This is the first step on our journey to animation excellence – the bouncing ball! Many of the principles of animation can be embodied by the simple mass of a bouncing ball. In this tutorial, we start giving some context to the animation principles by looking at how they manifest themselves in great bouncing ball!
BOUNCING BALL PRINCIPLES
All budding animators start their journey invariably with the bouncing ball exercise. It’s somewhat of a right of passage but for good reason. The bouncing ball encapsulates many of the fundamental animation principles which are needed to create great character animation. The fundamental principles of aniamtion is an unofficial but mostly agreed upon series of timeless principles ‘discovered’ by an refined by the early Disney animators of the mid 20th Century. If you haven’t watched this tutorial yet I highly recommend looking at it first. I give an overview of the 12 principles.
SQUASH AND STRETCH
This is some text about squash and stretch. The ball stretches out on its way up and down and squashes at it comes in to contact with surfaces. Squash and stretch is a caricatures, exagerated depiction of how real life objects move. The more squash and stretch the more ‘cartoony’ your work will appear. But use it you must to give your subjects a believable weight and volume to them.
TIMING AND SPACING
Timing is how long your action takes. Spacing is how you depict the relative speed at which your subject is moving. Timing and spacing go hand in hand. In the bouncing ball example:
– the timing of each bounce is 1 second (24 frames of animation playing at 24 frames per second).
– the spacing of the ball images move closer a together as the ball decelerates towards the apex of the bounce. They gradually move further apart as the ball acclerates towards the ground. This may seem obvious but the closer images are spaced in a set time the slower the subject appears to move and the further apart the images are spaced in the same time frame the faster the subject appears to move.
SLOW-IN AND SLOW-OUT
This is a corollary of Timing and Spacing. Essentially it is the depiction of inertia of an object. In the bouncing ball example, you can say that between the ball bouncing out off the floor and moving up to the apex of the bounce, the ball is ‘slowing-out’ of the action. When the ball begins it’s descent toward the ground, we can say that the ball is ‘slowing-in’ to the action. This can be played with for snappy, comic effect.
In Adobe Flash, you can use the tween functionality to implement the slow-in and slow-out principles instead of manually spacing the drawings to achieve the same effect. By placing a keyframe at the start of an action and one at the end (the apex of the bounce, for example), right click on the grey bar between the keyframes and select ‘Create Classic Tween’.
A purple bar with an arrow in will appear. This is the classic tween. Click once somewhere on the classic tween and in the properties panel set the ease value to negative 100. This will increase the spacing of the ball as reaches the bottom of the movement.
NOTE: The slow-in / slow-out wording in Flash is opposite to the wording in classic animation literature. In classic animation the term slow-in is actually represented in Flash by the term Ease Out (positive ease values). The term slow-out is represented in Flash by the term Ease in (negative ease values). This can be a little confusing at first but will soon become an intuitive part of animating in Flash.
This is an offshoot of squash and stretch and could be argued is only applicable for 3d dimensional animation (not like stylized cartoons like South Park, for example). But essentially, it is about conveying convincing manipulation of form in space. In the bouncing ball example, when we stretch the ball out, not only are we extending the x axis of the ball, we are contracting the width of the ball. This is to maintain the same volume of the ball. And conversely, when we squash the ball to show weight, we contract the height and extend the width. Doing only one or the other would detract from the convincing movement of the ball in space. The key here is to always retain the same volume of the mass you are animating.
The principles of animation as they relate to a simple boucing ball are Squash and stretch, Timing and Spacing, Slow-in and Slow-out and finally, Solid drawing.
Understanding the principles and wielding the tool in such a way as to aid in the implementation of these pricncipes is far more important in creating succcessful, appealing animation than by prioritising the learning of the tool.
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