Monday, August 13, 2007

Modern Comedy timing VS Classic Comedy Timing

Modern Cartoon Timing Tricks

Modern cartoon timing has a real obvious feel and look to it. Everything "snaps" from pose to pose. Here is a CG short Dave linked to in the comments of the Chimptude post.

I don't know anything about it except it has French credits. But the look and feel is all Cal Arts.

It's well done in many ways (some of the ape runs are very clever, it's composed and planned well, etc.), but the pose-to-pose timing is that formula you see in modern disney-esque "comedies". Like "Cats Don't Dance" "Emperor's New Groove" "Incredibles" "Madagascar" etc.
It's a style of timing that draws attention to itself, rather than drawing attention to the characters or story.

The actions have short anticipations and then BANG! - they snap past the final pose and settle in a couple frames. Hardly any inbetweens. It's as if the characters' limbs and features are all spring-loaded. Pull the trigger and the action fires.

I see this all the time in modern cartoons. The zip, zip, zip style.

*NOTE: I'm not talking about the editing or quick cuts. I'm strictly talking about the character animation-the way it moves from one pose to the next.

I'm wondering if the computer is programmed now to automatically apply these stock timing moves to get from one key pose to the next. Anybody know?

Classic Cartoon Custom Timing

Classic comedy timing felt a lot more natural and had more variety to it. Even Tex Avery - who used very stylized artistic timing and some say a "formula", still didn't rely on a small handful of tricks. Every gag and story point has custom timing. Some reactions are slow. Some are fast. The fast takes are done in a variety of ways, not the same way every time. Each animator adds his own style on top of Tex's direction. Each action is timed to make the gag or story point work best.

I would like to see animation get back to a more humanized custom tailored timing. Of course you would need characters and stories that reflect some kind of humanity to inspire the animators.

When I watch modern full-animation, I feel like I'm watching student exercises. (Actually, I think that's what this short is, but it looks just like the professional animated features being made today). I don't get drawn into the characters, stories or gags because I've seen them all so many times before.

Some studios are slicker than others at doing the formulas, but formulas they remain.

Another commenter sent me another short film that has all the stock modern Cal Arts acting triggers in it and I will show you that in another post and compare it to a classic cartoon that I think has more varied and natural acting in it.