Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Animation Blocking from Zootropolis

The Keys: Zootopia from Kyle Kenworthy on Vimeo.

The short video above (just 8 seconds) is a very nice example of good animation blocking from the upcoming Disney film Zootropolis, recently posted at Kyle Kenworthy's excellent animation blog.  What do animators mean by "blocking"? We mean the process of establishing the main key poses in a shot, using stepped curves (i.e., single poses without any smooth transitions), so that we can test whether or not we are telling the story of the shot.

At this stage, the animator is not chiefly concerned with how he or she gets from one pose to another. The question is rather - do the poses work? Do they tell the story correctly? Are the facial expressions clear? This blocking stage will then be shown to the director, who will give notes.

On a high-end feature film, such as a Disney or Pixar movie, an animator might get a day or two to get to this stage before showing it to the director. For a TV animator, with much tighter deadlines, you might be expected to block out a shot in a morning, or even less.

After the director gives notes, the animator adds breakdown poses (the Tween Machine is a good free plug-in for Maya that helps with this) and adds detail.

The director is then shown this version, sometimes called "blocking plus", and gives further notes. By now the shot is taking shape and the direction is clear.

The next stage is to move to spline your curves in the Graph Editor, and add the in-betweens. At this stage it's a question of tidying the curves and adding detail like overlapping action, eye darts, and any other small bits of business.

Then, once the director approves the shot, you're done!


To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link. 


  1. Hey Alex, can you edit your post - I did not do the blocking for this (as it says in the description) I only created it for educational purposes


  2. Sure - apologies - I will edit this now.....

    1. no worries thanks :P
      just wouldn't want people thinking I created that amazing work haha