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  • Norman McLaren, the great 20th century pioneer of animation technique,

  • once said, "Animation is not the art of drawings that move,

  • but the art of movements that are drawn.

  • What happens between each frame is more important

  • than what exists on each frame."

  • What did he mean?

  • Well, for an object to appear in motion,

  • it necessarily has to change in position over time.

  • If time passes and no change in position occurs,

  • the object will appear to be still.

  • This relationship between the passage of time

  • and the amount of change that occurs in that time

  • is at the heart of every time-based art form,

  • be it music, dance, or motion pictures.

  • Manipulating the speed and amount of change

  • between the frames is the secret alchemy

  • that gives animation the ability to convey the illusion of life.

  • In animation, there are two fundamental principles

  • we use to do this:

  • timing and spacing.

  • To illustrate the relationship between them,

  • we'll use a timeless example: the bouncing ball.

  • One way to think about timing

  • is that it's the speed, or tempo,

  • at which an action takes place.

  • We determine the speed of an action

  • by how many pictures, or frames, it takes to happen.

  • The more frames something takes to happen,

  • the more time it spends on screen,

  • so the slower the action will be.

  • The fewer frames something takes to happen,

  • the less screen time it takes,

  • which gives us faster action.

  • The timing is about more than just speed,

  • it's also about rhythm.

  • Like a drumbeat or melody only exists

  • when a song is being played,

  • the timing of an action

  • only exists while it's happening.

  • You can describe it in words,

  • say, something will take 6 frames, 18 frames, or so on.

  • But to really get a sense of it,

  • you need to act it out

  • or experience it as it would happen in, well, real time.

  • Now, the timing of an action

  • all depends on the context of the scene

  • and what you're trying to communicate.

  • What is doing the acting, and why?

  • Let's take our example.

  • What makes a ball bounce?

  • The action we're talking about here

  • is a result of interacting physical forces,

  • a moving ball's tendency to stay in motion,

  • or its force of momentum

  • vs. the constant force of gravity

  • bringing it back down Earth.

  • The degree to which these invisible forces apply,

  • and the reason why the ball behaves the way it does,

  • all depends on the physical properties of the ball.

  • A golf ball is small, hard and light.

  • A rubber ball is small, soft and lighter.

  • A beach ball is large, soft and light.

  • And a bowling ball is large, hard and heavy.

  • So, each ball behaves very differently,

  • according to its properties.

  • Let's get a sense of the visual rhythm of each.

  • Each ball plays its own beat

  • and tells us something about itself

  • and the time it takes to travel across the screen.

  • The visual rhythm of these hits is the timing.

  • Okay, let's start animating our ball,

  • bouncing up and down with a simple cycle of drawings.

  • We'll draw a circle here,

  • call it point A, our starting point.

  • We'll have it hit the ground here, point B.

  • Let's say it takes about a second

  • to hit the ground and come back up again.

  • This is our timing.

  • Our spacing is where we position the circle

  • in the frames between point A and point B.

  • If we were to move our ball

  • in evenly-spaced increments,

  • we'd get something like this.

  • It's not really telling us anything about itself.

  • Is it a bouncing ball or a circle on an elevator?

  • Let's look at our footage again

  • and think about what's going on

  • as each ball bounces.

  • Following each impact with the ground,

  • the ball's upward momentum

  • is eventually overcome by gravity.

  • This happens at the peak of each arc.

  • As things change direction,

  • the motion is slowest.

  • We see here the successive positions of the ball

  • are close together.

  • The ball then speeds up as it falls,

  • and is at its fastest

  • when it's approaching and hitting the ground.

  • We can see here each position is further apart.

  • The change in position between frames

  • is the spacing.

  • The smaller the change,

  • the slower the action will appear.

  • The greater the change,

  • the faster it will appear.

  • For an action to decelerate,

  • each change in position must be less than the change before it.

  • Likewise, for an action to speed up, or accelerate,

  • each successive change must be greater.

  • Let's change the mechanical spacing

  • of our animated bounce

  • to reflect what we observed in the footage.

  • Slow at the top, fast when it's hitting the ground.

  • Simply by adjusting the spacing,

  • we've succeeded in suggesting

  • the forces of momentum and gravity at play

  • and achieved a much more realistic motion.

  • Same timing but different spacing

  • gives us vastly different results.

  • And in reality, as a ball bounces,

  • the physics of gravity eventually defeat

  • the tendency of the ball to stay in motion.

  • You can see this here in the decreasing height

  • of each successive bounce.

  • However, again, this decrease varies

  • according to the properties of the ball.

  • Even though these circles are the same size here,

  • they're each telling us a different story about themselves,

  • purely in how they move.

  • The relationship between these principles

  • of timing and spacing

  • can be applied in countless ways

  • and used to animate all types of action:

  • a yo-yo,

  • a punch,

  • a gentle tap,

  • a push,

  • a saw,

  • the Sun traveling across the sky,

  • a pendulum.

  • Animation is a time-based art form.

  • It may incorporate the aesthetic elements

  • of other graphic arts,

  • like illustration or painting,

  • but what sets animation apart

  • is that, here, what you see

  • is less important that what you don't see.

  • An object's superficial appearance

  • only tells us so much about itself.

  • It's only when it's in motion

  • that we really understand its nature.

Norman McLaren, the great 20th century pioneer of animation technique,

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B1 TED-Ed ball spacing timing action animation

【TED-Ed】Animation basics: The art of timing and spacing - TED-Ed

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    Lim Chun Aun posted on 2014/07/13
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