Sunday, February 08, 2009

Disney Principles 7 - Anticipations

antic first, then reach

Beaky in neutral pose

He moves away in the opposite direction from where he is going to go (he "anticipates")
He goes to the next pose and slightly "overshoots" it with his head and neck.
He settles in the final position (while moving within that position)

full anticipation
big space between anticipation drawing and Bugs jumping up and turning
then slowing out of the turn and jump with some close drawings on their way into the run pose

big space from the up and turn pose to the first running pose

It's good to know about anticipations, but it's also good to not use them at random or as a formula.

Not every action needs an antic. Some do. They shouldn't all be done the same way.

Standard Antic

Avoid too much anticipation and always doing it the same way
There is a style of of anticipation in Canada and Korea that drives me nuts. I wish I had an example to show, but they have a tendency to always do the same pose for the anticipation and it's way over done. The character will hunch down, his shoulders come up and the head sinks way down. Then they spring past the final pose they are aiming at and settle into it. The same way every time. They use this for every action and it becomes very obvious and monotonous.

Now there is the Flash style of antic and overshoot which is even more monotonous and robotic.

All principles can be abused or overused, when done without thinking or by rote.

Antics, like your other drawing and animation tools, should be customized to the action and story. You should learn them in the basic ways first, but then get to the point to where you can feel when one is appropriate and how to vary them and customize them to the scene, character and story. Once you get good and confident, you shouldn't have to calculate which tools to use for what scenes. It should just come naturally. A good animator uses a lot of variety in how he does things. A formulaic one does it the same way every time.

Avoid repetitive actions, poses and expressions - customize your actions to the story
On The Ripping Friends, I used to see actions done with this formulaic repetitive same antic for every pose, so I started adding my own customized antics in the layouts to break up the monotony.

So then what happened was the animators added MORE anticipations to anticipate the anticipations. The result was the characters would spring and bounce and boing from pose to pose as if they had the hiccups.

You can also see this formulaic overuse of antics and overshoots in many modern cartoons - especially the prime time ones that move like robots on springs. It's what I call trick animation. Always doing everything using the same tricks the same way. That may smooth out the actions, but it's unnatural and monotonous. It doesn't bring any soul, believability or uniqueness of life to anything. It feels phony.

Making fun of stock principles
Sometimes I make fun of principles in my cartoons and do them stupidly on purpose. There was a scene in Stimpy's Invention where Stimpy was reacting to Ren being happy with his new happy helmet.

I wanted to accent Stimpy's final pose with a big antic first. The way it was staged, combined with Stimpy's simple construction didn't allow for a normal antic, so I just squashed his whole body down like an accordion and sprung him up into his final excited pose.
Thanks to Dragan for putting this sequence together for me!

They animated it at Carbunkle and made it work perfectly. From then on, I tried putting lots of weird inbetweens and quick poses into scenes that you wouldn't really see unless you freeze framed the animation. Doing this in context makes your scenes more natural and rich with life and spontaneity.

Of course before you get to that point, you have to learn it the standard way first and just get it to work smoothly.

More fun applications of classic principles still performed their necessary functions but gave the animation a fresher, funnier and less predictable feeling. I'll show you some variety of antics in another post.


1) To Create Space - between where you start and where you are going to go. By moving away from where you are going to go you give yourself more distance for the action to travel in. This makes the action quicker; it gives it an accent.

2) To Draw the Audience Attention - to let you know something is going to happen, instead of just letting it happen and have you miss it

Thanks also to Tara Sheppard, Brendan Brody and Mark Peel for your donations yesterday!


oppo said...

Well, that scene in Stimpy's Invention will never look the same to me again.

Thanks John!

Elana Pritchard said...

Good post!

Thomas said...

I'm enjoying the blog very much!
Just to add on the "creating space" part. I think you are talking about the space that's created between frames of animation, and not just the space within the individual frame. It has alot to do with time also. Doesn't it?
Just in a free associative way- doesn't the word anticipation realate to time?

Hammerson said...

>> There is a model sheet that shows the key poses of this scene, but I can't find it. If you have a copy could you post it for me? It has the weird antic I talk about-thanks <<

I can't find the model sheet, so here are the screenshots. I hope this would help:

Stimpy's Invention - antic

Steven said...

"All principles can be abused or overused, when done without thinking or by rote."

I do not agree. Principles should always be regarded, that's why they're called principles.

I do agree that a principle can be applied wrong. But that is because part of this principle is (probably) that you should only use anticipation when necessary.

And, of course, creativity is an important value in cartoons. You should not always use exactly the same motion. But that does not diminish the fact that these principles should be followed.

JohnK said...

Hey thanks Dragan! I'll add it to the post.

Rick Roberts said...

I love that scene in STIMPY'S INVENTION. Stimpy just looks in confusion and then he just bursts out in joy.

Also OT question John but did you consider early mickey at least humorous ? He seemed to be a bit mischevious and more fun.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Dragan, mind if I use your antic screenshots for a quick Spumco post?

And, on the note of the antic model sheet, it might've been on Unofficial Spumco...which I'm sad to say no longer exists.

drawingtherightway said...

Another informative and great post, John! Maybe you could do a post sometime on how to plot arcs in animation.

Jeremy said...

I've put together a few sample animation shots from Nelvana's 6teen which is a good example of formulaic or forgotten principals. Most of these don't include the cliche 6 frame settle but just tweens into the final pose which adds to the robotic nature. I don't want to dump on these guys there are some really great animators who aren't able to shine with production restrictions. Also I'm just as guilty and to this day I'm trying fix bad habits created during productions of this kind. You are right though, this is a serious issue with Canadian animation and it leads to apathy where the studio talk is more about hockey than it is about animation.

Ryan G. said...

I like the shrunken head antics that you guys did sometimes..

Bitter Animator said...

"All principles can be abused or overused, when done without thinking or by rote."

Some great antics here and you are spot-on with this statement. I totally disagree with Steven when he says that, because they are principals, they have to be followed.

I have grown to loathe antics and I'm close to wishing they had never, ever been applied to animation because of the "anitc/settle abuse system" that has become standard in modern animation. A system where every single movement or expression change uses the exact same antic, overshoot and settle with the exact same timing. It drives me absolutely nuts. It turns animation into some sort of nervous tick and I'm sure it's doing untold brain damage watching it. Especially when it comes to the Flash animation examples you mention.

The antic/settle abuse system has become a way of hiding poor animation and, importantly in Flash, symbol changes. And a whole generation of young animators are learning this and, like Steven, thinking it's something you have to do.

It's not.

"Not every action needs an antic. Some do. They shouldn't all be done the same way."

So true. And this is why principles need practise and, more importantly, understanding. People need to know why they are doing things rather than just thinking "well it's a principle and so I must do it". Doing it without understanding is worthless.

And this is why your blog has to be required reading for anyone in animation today.

Brian Goss said...

An easy way for me to think of antic is that it's the drawing or picture within a series where the tension is created. After the antic, the tension is resolved.

Same thing is done in jazz and other types of music. Dominant chords are the antic, (where the tension is created) and major chords are where the tension is resolved.

Anonymous said...

"that does not diminish the fact that these principles should be followed."

Yeah, John K, you better learn these principles properly!

Steven said...

@Bitter Animator:

"A system where every single movement or expression change uses the exact same antic, overshoot and settle with the exact same timing."

I agree. Creativity is very important. Jeremy posted good examples of how not the apply antic. But antic is necessary to understand what is happening on screen (to the average viewer). You use a certain language all the time, so that people can understand you. This does not mean you have to start every sentence with "I" followed by a verb. Variation is much more fun for everyone. But you do use grammar and spelling principles, otherwise people would not understand you.

"People need to know why they are doing things rather than just thinking "well it's a principle and so I must do it". Doing it without understanding is worthless."

I agree with you. People should know why these principles exist and why they should be used, because otherwise these rules get forgotten. The ratio behind principles and language is important to keep it alive and to make small evolution of principles possible.

If we're not supposed to apply these principles, are they still principles? Shouldn't they be called guidelines then?

Max Ward said...

Hey John,

In your opinion, does it hurt or help to use the grid method when copying the comic book covers(or any drawing for that matter)?

David Germain said...

I've been doing symbol flash for a few tears now and I'm certainly guilty of relying on this formula. Here's my Busy Town demo reel. I'm sure you can find lots of examples of the overuse of antic, overshoot, and settle. But, of course, the main reason animators overuse this technique is that it most often gets scenes approved faster. Although, in the places I've worked, they were much more concerned with making sure the scenes looked good and thus would encourage us to try other things besides this formula.

JohnK said...

>>In your opinion, does it hurt or help to use the grid method when copying<<

Hi Max

do not use a grid. That's kid stuff.
You'd be aiming at the wrong result.
Drawing step by step construction is the way to understand the how and why of good drawings, not just the 2 dimensional borders of someone else's drawing.

Gabriele_Gabba said...

Excellent read! I watched that 6teen THING. It was horrid. And all those gradients on the skin makes me wanna barf.

In every anticipation with another character in the shot, i notice the action of the character not acting is very subdued. I imagine this is to draw attention to the main action?

Acting with two characters in the same shot is tough John, i wanna know how you do it?

Anonymous said...

"But you do use grammar and spelling principles, otherwise people would not understand you."

That's a perfect analogy, but you're using it wrong.

Nobody uses perfect language 'principles' all the time. Sometimes they actually drop them completely. Surely you don't have trouble understanding everyone but dictionary and thesaurus authors.

The same is true for cartoon principles. As longs as you know how to loosen up your principles intelligently, there won't be a problem.

Jonathan Harris said...

Something interesting from that Bugs/Elmer clip: when Elmer grabs the gun, there's not only no anticipation at all (unless you count Bugs's two frames leading directly into the action), but we don't even see Elmer's arm until it's most of the way round his body (apparent if you check frame-by-frame).

A good way to make the action surprise us, I think.

Bitter Animator said...

Steven, am I to buy into the idea that, if a character performs an action without antic, the audience won't understand the action? Is that what you're saying?

PeteyX said...

Not to be the philistine in this comment thread, but can I just add that even in rough sketches, anyone pulling a sandwich out of their pants (sorry, 'pocket') is hilarious?

RobochaoXX said...

This was entirely an excellent post because I always wanted to know if there was term for this type of thing, and as it turns out.. There is!


I love this blog because whenever I visit, I learn something!

Thank you so much John!

Anonymous said...

Hey John, found this Daffy scene:

I was just noticing that there are some actions without anticipation (like the handshake bit) and some with (when doctor takes his hand back).

I assume you own cartoonthrills- sorry if you don't want people browsing through there.