In our first animation class we looked at the ’12 principles of animation’ as put forward by master Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson-
Squash and stretch
Straight ahead action and pose to pose
Follow through and overlapping action
Slow in and slow out
As a way of exploring the effectiveness of these principles in a modern animation context, we watched some very cleverly crafted 3D animations selected by our lecturer.
The aim was to be able to analyze the way the actions played out on screen.
• What was it about the characters that made them who they were?
• How did they emote?
• How were the principles above used to heighten the viewers experience?
• Exactly what made them funny or sad or exciting?
Being forced to intellectualize in this way is an interesting experience that contributes to a deeper appreciation of the animators. Trying to get to the core of what makes something funny is sometimes difficult. We just know it makes us laugh. It also sparked some lively class debate, because it is not always easy to categorize the use of the animation principles. So often it is about a combination of techniques.
Also, each class member was given two of the above principles to further research and explore. Homework was to find good and bad examples of each of the two principles.
I was given ‘squash and stretch’ and ‘slow in slow out’.
I won’t post the bad examples I found here as it’s not my job to ‘name and shame’. I will say however, that when looking for examples of what not to do, a good starting point is the retelling of fables or religious stories, they tend to be done on a low budget and can be readily found on video channels.
I knew that good examples would be relatively easy to find and I went straight to my fave – Pixar.
The example I selected for great squash and stretch is the renowned bouncing lamp. For me, it is a rather unique use of squash and stretch as it’s not the usual compression and deformation of mass but the compression of hinged joints. When the lamp is on the rise part of the bounce movement the form elongates through the opening of joints-
then when it lands, the closing of joints makes it compress-
It could be argued that this is more about the use of other principles like exaggeration or follow through, but to me when I see these shapes in silhouette it clearly fulfills the definition of squash and stretch.