There are some really useful notes on breakdowns floating round the tumblrsphere, using hands to demonstrate the concept. As I forgetting where these posts are I figured the easiest thing to do was post them up here so I can remember where there from. Tuts courtesy of swarmanimation2016.tumblr.com so go show them some lov and check out their short film.
Breakdown / Accent / Arc
To thank for the support for our film so far, we are posting some notes on animating originally made for our animation assistants. Breakdown is a very crucial technique of animating. It is a guideline of how every action should be acted out. It involves a thinking process of “hmm, I want my character to move in this way particularly, because of the context/situation/emotion/thought… etc”
Last but not least, breakdowns are the playground for animators. If you find these notes useful, also check out our film We Have Plenty. It’s a 2D animated film created by the students of SCAD and RISD. Please support us on Kickstarter and help us spread the word! We will be back for more notes on animation!
The brief for this animation was to animate a child touching their toes. So after thoroughly checking the models joints; I’d had enough trouble with the head turn, where some joints were still too tight, or too lose, and I wasn’t going to make that mistake again; lesson learnt. I setup the scene with just a couple pieces of black card, one on the ground, and another taped against the wall so it had a slight curve; just to break up the hard edge of the wall and ease the eye towards the figure. The figure was then placed down, and the camera setup up, so the edge of models foot would sit roughly a little before the edge of the right third of the shot, so that when he bent over for this actions the resulting arc would carry him roughly through the those thirds markers (simple use of the rule of thirds for a simple scene). And then finally the lighting was positioned to give a good clean core shadow down the body and face to help define the basic plains of the form. So after an hour of setup I was ready to go. The animation itself, was a nice clean straightforward motion: 3 keys for 2 movements; bending down to touch his toes and standing up again with a bit of a celebratory flourish.
For this animation I tried to think a little more about the model not as an absolute expression of anatomy but as a means to create iconic shapes/silhouettes, for more interesting imagery on the picture plain. There where a few moments when to create move pleasing visual arcs I had to choose between moving the model into a more anatomically correct posture or, fudge it and, think of the arcs of the body being translated into arcs on the picture plane. For instance, the models left arm was brought out and back from the body just a bit further on the way up so it didn’t overlap the form of the body as much, in the hope that would give a stronger silhouette of the action, and help emphasize the flourish. Similar to how the hand was turned out a little more than would of been comfortable to try to improve the silhouette of the key pose. Overall I tried to think of it a little more like I was animating in 2D, or at least to be more conscious of the the models relation to the picture plain.
I would like to say I planned this down to the tee, but… As I was towards finishing the bend down I found that the arms weren’t actually reach down quite far enough to touch his toes, it was close but not quite there. I wasn’t going to mess with my arcs to correct for it at that point, it would of completely ruined the movement. So I was thinking to myself “OK, do I start again, or just ignore it and have him come back up without fully completing the action.” I didn’t like the idea of not finishing it properly, and so, stopped to think about the character of the child I was trying to animate. I felt this was this is a determined kid, and he was going to touch his toes the proper way, at least what he felt was the proper way, legs straight, body down, so even at the end he’s going to refuse to bend his knees to cheat it and he definitely wouldn’t be satisfied not touching them at all, Instead hes going to go in for a little bit of an extra stretch at the end, a little extra push, to get the job done right. It was a nice reminder to all always keep in mind that every character has a personality of their own, with their own beliefs, and impulses that drive their actions.
There’s a nice little segment in the video below, showing Yoh Yoshinari at 13-16 min in, going through a quick breakdown for a throw for the tomato throwing scene in Little Witch Academia.