Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Animating 101.5: 'Balance and Weight'

       A teacher or Mentor would give you the following video and say study this... what they need to say... HOW TO STUDY THIS..

FIRST: A Rant On 'The Responsibility of the Animator.."
       I see a lot of green animators having a hard time animating balance and weight, but here we see ROBOTS are great, mastering it, with 1,2,4 legs.. I bet they can also do it with 8. Very sad when a robot can learn to walk before you can learn to animate a very convincing gait. If a robot can do it, so can you! but do not take for granted the work you have to do. If you think your job should be easier, bc you think all you have to do is drawing, while that robot calculates all day since morning, then it is not alarming, that you darling, are have such a hard fucking time day in and day out with that mouse in your hand the pencil in your mouth, animating. :)

Just because you made a life choice, to do your part and make some art, it does not excuse you to be ignorant. So here is my rant about give learning a chance and learn that the world has more to it than what you take in from first glance. Your job as an artist is to observe the world around you carefully, just looking doesn't count, and memorizing patterns is such a wasteful account, you need to learn the fundamentals to understand reality. WHY and HOW should be the basis of your new philosophy.

Your an artist but more than that you are a human being.
-'but danny I do art bc math and school were just not my thing"

Then you should not be doing art, bc in school 'Learning' was the trick. And learning in ART, is just as hard! ..if talent was not given to you as a natural gift. It is hypocritical to say you are going to learn art and animation inside and out, but when told to deal with the Math of a walk cycle, with it's frames per seconds and spacing, you start to groan and shout.

imagine how much potentially better work can be with a little more understanding and knowledge.

The End...


Now: A Non-Rhyming Rant On "Weight, Balance, and Forces":
     There is no weight, there is no balance, those are descriptions. It is GRAVITY. You are not "selling" the weight.. Nor are you making the balance "work"... What you are trying to do is convince me that gravity EXIST and is acting upon your character or what ever you might be animating. So when a teacher says, "it needs weight.." it should be translated to, 'Your gravity is not convincing.' 

      Look at the video around ( 0:18 seconds) here is a one legged robot doing a nice job keeping it's balance. It lands it's leg exactly where it needs to be to counter the gravity that is always pulling down on it. Here are WRONG drawings of a robot trying to keep it's balance...

     This is wrong because the robot would still fall over.. the placement of the 'foot peg' DOES counter the gravity but not the Momentum the robot has moving towards the Left... so not only does the foot need to be under the robot, but it also needs to be opposite of the direction that the momentum is going. This will counter act it and result in the robot coming to a stop...
Here is how it should be..

      This is much more physically correct, and thus believable.

      It's all about knowing what forces are acting upon the thing you are animating. That is it. All 4 basic forces work either as a push or a pull. Electro Magnetism, Gravity and the Strong and Weak nuclear forces all either push or pull. This is 7th grade physics. Every day, all day these forces act as either a PUSH OR PULL, (note to get diagonals and arcs, multiple forces have to be in play..more on that later) there are no flying or side-ways actions, gravity doesn't say 'im tired, im not gnna work today'. Even when your character or object is doing nothing, gravity is still happening...

      -So direction of force is a key concept to move any object... You can push in the opposite direction of where you want to go (hmm this sounds familiar.. what is is called.. can this be ANTICIPATION????) So if you are going to the LEFT and down.. you want to push to the RIGHT and UP.
     NOTE: ever see something over animated? most likely they are using too big an anticipation (force) than the action needs in real life.

      Gravity, is a PULL. The more you pull at something the faster it will go as long as there is nothing pushing or pulling in the opposite direction...
     THIS TIES IN WITH SPACING: when something falls it gradually will pick up speed... (the spacing of your frames will get bigger and bigger)
     Gravity pulls on everything equally. unless there is another force at work. So the spacing of a bowling ball falling and a ping pong ball falling ARE EXACTLY THE SAME. a body falling from the sky, a dinosaur foot landing in a walk cycle.. the SPACING WILL BE THE SAME period. (Galileo 101 people.. jeez..).

The only difference is the bounce UP.

    -The ping pong ball, having more elasticity, can Push against the floor resulting in high bounce. (you see this as squash and stretch)and all the bounces after that work the same.. THE BALL NEVER BOUNCES GREATER OR BACK TO ITS ORIGINAL HEIGHT. Each bounce being smaller than the last because the energy is being lost as movement and heat while the pull of gravity never lets up.. resulting in smaller bounces..)

    -The bowling ball on the other hand cannot squash and stretch as much and there for the Push off the floor is not as strong. BUT like a smart logic seeking student you are, you ask, 'Where did the energy go?" It transferred as heat and vibrations. The ground where the bowling ball hit immediately after the bounce is slightly warmer than the surrounding surface.
      If you do not believe me or SCIENCE in general.. Fine, You can test this out your self by bouncing a basketball over the same spot of an extendent amount of time.. you will then feel the heat on the bottom of the ball and on the floor.

     The sooner you learn to see these forces as clear as you see how fast food is made from the shittiest quality food EVER... then you it'll be very very easy to tell if something animated is not 'feeling' right.   :)

An Example of pushing:
    -when you stand you are pushing. your foot is not resting in it's natural shape. It is pushing against the floor. 

    -A very nerdy way of thinking of animating is that animating is The Controlling and Manipulation of Directional Energy.  ..add some knowledge of texture, principles and timing to this along with a concept and acting choices and.. HEY, you might be making ACTUAL art!..


     -Remember that things need directional forces to move. and in order to CHANGE direction: one force must be greater than the other.. The greater the inequality the faster it can change direction.
     Visualize: A five year old trying to tackle you... you won't budge more than 2 inches. Now imagine a whale tackling you..   ..Exactly :)

    Thought Exercise: In any action it can be very helpful to break down what forces are happening. For example: Raising your arm to point to the TV screen..

     Is this a push or a pull? WHAT is pushing or pulling? It will be the shoulder muscles and some triceps (lets just say elbow) But more shoulder than elbow. The shoulder will LEAD the movement and everything will follow. this is how you would show that the elbow is pulling

     The pull of the shoulder is a force, but do not forget there are other forces at work here. Gravity will be fighting against this movement of the shoulder. the easiest path of compromise between these two forces is this ARC..

     This looks natural and effortless.Any other arc would be wrong, unless it's done on purpose. You would need a stronger pull from the shoulder (bigger anticipation) then you can get a showy showman gesture like this,

       So This is it for my rant. I hope this gave you insight on a new way to think about animation and the world around us. To show weight is to show gravity. It's not magic, gravity is not the weight of god's expectations on you, haha, it's good old fashion space time distortion and it's effect on you. Think that's just some fancy explanation scientist just made up? no way, gravity affects lots of things. Even time: farther away you are from a gravitational mass, the faster time seems to pass. So this means the clock in a satellite ticks faster than the one of your wrist. GPS satellites are well aware of this and have compensated for the different time speeds. Did you learn something new? Good, I hoped you liked it. Now go get lost in wikipedia.. all human knowledge at your fingertips.

-Daniel Gonzales


  1. Mild physics nitpick; when you drop a bowling ball, while some of the energy turns into heat, most of it goes into accelerating the earth some absurdly small amount in the same direction the ball was dropped.

    Or, to think of the same phenomena on more local (and more animation relevant) terms, the energy goes into creating a wave of vibrations that travel very rapidly through the earth. With very big objects, this vibration might be visible a la Jurassic Park.

  2. vVery true. Sorry I simplified it too much! And the vibrations do not stop at the ground, they travel through air. For that is what Sound is, (vibrations)

    thanks for your comment!

  3. Bahaha, that video was awesome.

    Thanks for posting these animation tutorials, really helping.

  4. I appreciate your insight, very helpful

  5. Thanks for posting this, I'm working on a walk cycle right now and this helped. :)