Friday, April 8, 2011

Animation Workout

Flex. It. Out.
Your animation muscles are just like any other muscle in your body; exercise so that you can grow strong, work harder and results will come. I love animation. I love animating, I do. I also love my animation workout. My workout is easy enough and best of all doesn’t take a lot of time. So often we as animators get caught up in our large acting assignments or even larger chunks of pantomime animation tests. These types of assignments are useful, informative, and necessary for an animator’s reel, but sometimes a quick workout can end up being more beneficial to an animator’s overall success. What I mean by a quick work out is an opportunity  to take one or two principles of animation and create an animation test to focus on those principals. Generally speaking, I use a prim box or sphere for my workouts so that I’m not tempted or distracted by complex humans characters. The goal is simply to focus on one particular aspect and animate that aspect really well. For example, let’s say I want to focus on Overlap. I can easily create a prim box, parent another prim box to it, and then I’ve got a rough stand-in for a character’s chest and an arm to work off of. With my prim boxes built I’m ready to  begin working out my overlap- turn the box and have the box arm overlap may not be that hard... or is it?

Slow-ins and Slow-outs? Not a problem with a prim box, just have the box move from one side of the screen to the other and back again and/or have it move around the screen slowing in and out of certain key poses. Quick and easy. Want to focus on Drag? Create your prim box moving up and down and around the screen, picking one corner or edge of the box to lead with while the other end drags behind.

Now granted, in all likely hood, none of these tests will end up on your reel but hopefully you will gain a better understanding of animation principles through your workout. Perhaps, think of it as a tool that you can use in order to put together a more complex piece of animation that you can put on your reel. There is nothing more valuable than a better understanding of how to use your tools. During your workouts you may choose to focus on trying to animate the slow in and slow out of a prim box, moving around with only your graph editor. Or, you may try to animate something in stepped mode in order to animate every frame so that you gain a better understanding of spacing and how that relates to the graph editor. Perhaps you have a problem with things strobing all the time in quick moves. A workout is a perfect way to help you figure out how to solve your problem, because a workout provides a pressure-free opportunity to learn and grow without an acting piece and/or pressure from, well, anything. You are free to try and mess up and try again because workouts do not require a large time commitment and are for you and you alone. Much like working out at the gym or the yoga studio or even running a marathon, it’s all about the end result.

Dr. Stephen G.


  1. Gold..... Mine Thanks for those... awesome Method.... :D

  2. This is super helpful to read ! Thanks for these workout idea !