Monday, 6 March 2017

What makes a good Key Frame Pose?

[Been meaning to do this post for a while, as an add-on to my performance animation lectures; so here goes...]

Many things make a great pose for a character. Very often the animator will look at it and think 'How the heck did I get his pose looking that good!' without really knowing why (or maybe that was just me).

This is an excellent strong pose from Disney's Pinocchio (1940), director of animation Art Babbitt, with many animators including Preston Blair

 Let break it down to see what makes it so good.

Very often a good key pose is the combination of a number of things;

  • Good, readable Silhouette
  • Balanced Negative Space on either side of the character
  • Lines of energy shaping the pose and giving it a direction of force
  • Contrast of detail in the silhouette on one side but not the other.
The Pinocchio shot is great because it utilises lots of these to good effect.

Negative Space above...

...balanced by Negative Space below.

Line of energy travelling through the character, giving it direction...

While the character itself allows gravity to push the it down into the pose / chair.

Detailed silhouette on one side of the character contrasting with...

a simplified profile on the other side.

Combines to make a dynamite pose

It's interesting to look for these strong poses in different animations. Not every key frame can be this strong and well defined, but a good animator will have plenty of examples throughout their work.

A great arched pose from Tangled.

Curving energy, Pos & Neg space, silhouette.
 Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood has some amazing animation and poses that have never been matched. This one is full of strong design and balance.

Add caption

Curving energy from the Wolf to Red, with a direct line created by bridging eye-contact. Strong silhouettes framed by interesting negative space.

Stringing a set of great key frames together will obviously make for great animation. Look below at how much room the framing has given Woody to move around in. He can hit lots of strong keys, manipulating the negative space by throwing himself into bold shapes.

In contrast Buzz is totally immobile and side on. It is interesting to note that often comedy is much more effective played either side or front on; but that will be something for another blog post, one day soon (almost definitely).

In future, if you are a budding animator, take a good look at you favourite animation and consider the poses...

That's all for now.

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