Monday, September 24, 2007

Animation Lesson 2. Oswald Dance, animating to a 12x beat

Here's the latest lesson from the world's cheapest animation school.


12x is a very standard unit of time in cartoons. It's roughly the time it takes for a human to take a step in a normal walk. A fast walk would be 8x per step. Pepe Le Pew's hop cycle is 12x per hop.

Here is a perfect scene to learn the essential concept of animating to tempos. The scene is very simple and basically just moves from one pose to the next to the beat. No fancy overlapping action or secondary motions to distract you from the core concept of beats.

It's good to study just because it is so simple. A beginning animator needs to get used to how long a beat is in frames. This song is a 12x beat. Sing along and tap your foot to it, until you memorize the rhythm. Then do it later when you don't have the animation in front of you. After a while you will know what a 12x beat feels like.

The music in this scene is 2 beats per second, or 12 frames per beat.
Each of these frames below is a key drawing. They are the drawings that you see and feel for each beat - the important drawings. The rest of the drawings are on the way to these keys. Those are the inbetweens.

Each key is either 12x or 24x away from the other keys next to them.
You should number the keys according to which frame they would appear in your animation test. Number your ex sheets that way too.This would be frame 25 (1 frame past the first 2 beats of pose 1.)

In the beginning of the song Oswald holds each pose for 2 beats.

Add 24x to to frame 25 and you get frame 49. Got it?

Then it goes to a new pose on every beat. Watch the film frame by frame. Number the inbetweens by counting backwards from the key. If there are 4 inbetweens on the way to frame 49 and they are on "1's", then they will be numbered 48, 47, 46, 45
The mouths are animated on separate levels, so that the body and head animation can be cycled or reused. When you animate this scene, animate the actions first. After you shoot it and see it working, then go back and animate the mouths on a separate level.
Some of the poses are held for a few frames once they stop. The face keeps singing while the body is stopped.

Watch the clip. The song starts on the second scene. If you copy this animation, you will benefit greatly. If you shoot it, send me a link and I will post some of them.


Just to confuse things, the clip is running at 30x per second ... like video. Film is 24x per second so you have to calculate a bit. Some of the frames are repeated to make it run at 30x per second.

That's why you see some double images in the clip. If you follow my instructions above as to how to number the drawings, it will end up at 24x per second.



Roo said...

This looks fun but the bosko flipbook i made turned into a mess. i had trouble keeping the volume consistant and the motion even between the points partly because i was only looking at the previous drawing so its choppy and changes size. any suggestion so it'll turn out smoother?

Anonymous said...

Im on it!

JohnK said...


draw the keys first, check 'em, then inbetween the rest.

Lay the keys on top of each other and see if the volumes are the same. If not, fix 'em.

Kali Fontecchio said...

I'll do it tomorrow at school!

Steve said...

Hey John,... Thanks! I don't know how else to put it. Thank you!. Here I am paying thousands in school loans and I have not really learned how to animate. I am not new to your blog but this is the first time I participate. I am learning alot from your comments and I was actually imagining what it would be like if you started a school, wacky I'm sure. But you would be churning out some great animators. Anyways, I am going back and reading all of yor posts from as far back as you have them. I will be contributing to your blog monetarily as soon as I can. Please, please, please, keep up the great work on your blog.


JoJo B. said...

I'm going to tell Sue to make this an assignment for class!

Chris S. said...

Right now due to a sinus infection snot is pouring out of my head at an alarming rate - if all goes well it will continue and I will have to call off work tomorrow and devote my day to my first John K. lesson! If (sadly) I've healed - I'm on this thing tomorrow evening!

First: Do you recommend tracing the keys from the original clip and doing the inbetweens freehand? Or should we avoid tracing from the original altogether? Not to say it's a complicated character, or that I'm a tracer - but I'm perplexed considering animation is all tracing and tracing may not be the bad word I thought it was. Just curious how to approach my first lesson.

Second: Do you realize how awesome you are for doing this - saving animation, and all?

Brett W. Thompson said...


I feel like I should finish the Bosko bounce cycle before trying this but this is so exciting it's hard to resist :)

John, this is amazing of you to share your knowledge with us, thank you!

Ryan G. said...

Something wierd is going on with the clip John. When I click the link, the page loads up a bunch of script with no video.

bloggerasaurus said...

I'm getting the video, but sub-audible sound. I can hear it ever so faint if I press my ear to the speaker, but it's cranked and I can't really make out what I'm hearing.

I tried two browsers -- Safari and Firefox.

Is this video available on another site?

:: smo :: said...

this is a very good post. thank you.

Robert said...

Is the assignment to reproduce the whole 30+ second dance sequence or is there some key subset that you're targeting like in the Bosko assignment?

Tip for other players: If you have Quicktime Pro, recompress the clip to "photo-jpeg" and it will be much easier to scrub thru.

Brett W. Thompson said...

Oh, one question: where is the full cartoon available? Is it on the Disney Treasures "The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" set? "Africa Before Dark" from 1928 is on there but I'm not certain this clip is from that cartoon.

Not necessary for doing the assignment obviously but I figured I'd ask :)

R. Banuelos said...

Right click and download it.

JohnK said...

>>Is the assignment to reproduce the whole 30+ second dance sequence or is there some key subset that you're targeting like in the Bosko assignment?<<

Start by doing the poses I put up.

If you get that done and are inspired, do more of it. The more you do, the more you will absorb.

SL said...

Wow, I love that drawing of Gandy Goose and Sourpuss at the top of the page. I really like the inking too. Did you do the inking, if not who did, I would love to see more of their inking work.


Anonymous said...

Hey John. Here is my Oswald cycle so far. I think it looks good. I played it next to the original and all of the timing matches. I'm finishing up the turn cycles tomorrow and I will post an update. Please take a look and tell me what you think.
Oswald 12x cycle

Anonymous said...

hmm. was my link broken? sorry. here it is again.
Oswald 12x cycle

Anonymous said...

Hiya John. I finished the body movements and now I need to go in and draw the mouths. The timing and movement look good to me. Am I on the right track? I hope so.
Oswald 12x Cycle 02

Anonymous said...

Ah, the old 29.97 frame rate of NTSC video.

I think I speak for many animators and filmmakers when I say that I won't miss it. 24p will be the new standard when hi-def hits. (I have to admit that I'll miss SD resolution, though. The filesizes are nice and manageable. Another curious thing about the standard film rate, is the fact that it's easier to mislead someone at 24fps because we as an international culture are used to stories being told at that frame rate. Video, traditionally used to (mis)inform us or document a basketball game or little Jimmy's first bike ride, has a more "live" and "now"/ulta-realistic feel to it.

So you've got the pro's and cons; with us, is the fact that it will be asier to tell a story with meager equipment and overhead, and against us are the Big 5 giving us our nightly news that we accept without question because it will have that dreamy feel that film has always had.

Nick A said...

Hi John

I've completed the first four bars. Check it out if you have the chance.

Thanks also for the semi complete x-sheets. They were quite useful a few times during the process.