Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Why Animated Characters Need to Breathe

Keep your characters breathing
One of the most common mistakes made by student animators is to forget that characters need to breathe. Even when the character isn't moving, they still need to stay alive, and keep breathing.

Breathing is something that we do without thinking about it, rather like blinking. A good animator adds breath to his character, and keeps them alive.

The trick is to get into a pose, and stay there, but not let the character stop moving entirely. Some motion is necessary, just to keep a character alive and breathing.

Get into a pose - and stay there
Get your character into a good, strong pose, and then stay there, nut make sure you keep the character alive in the pose. Keeping the character alive is what the old 2D animators used to call a "moving hold". It's also the basis of TV animation, where animators tend to stay inside a pose for as long as possible because of the sheer volume of work (often over 30 seconds a week) they have to get through.

The Moving Hold
Moving holds are a tricky thing to get right. If your character moves too much, the performance will feel floaty, but if the character stops moving completely, the animation will die, and the character feels lifeless. Working with CG puppets we must create the illusion of life, and this means keeping our characters moving, at least just a little bit, and breathing.

Overshoot and settle
One classic way to get into a pose - and stay there - is with an overshoot and settle. To do this, create a pose that is more extreme than the one you want to end up in, and then settle into the final pose. See the example to the right from the Animator's Survival Kit.

Overshoot and Settle (ASK)
Once you are in the final pose, don't let the character stop moving completely. At the very least, keep the main motion control moving just a little bit - remember that all our motion comes from the core of our bodies.

We are constantly adjusting our position, our weight, our balance, without even knowing it. And we have to keep breathing too.

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.

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