Friday, September 14, 2007

3 Speeds

Something I heard back when I was first learning animation that still really helps me to this day: always try to get three speeds in your shot. Put in slow moves, medium moves, and fast moves. This will help give your shot texture, interest, and emphasis. If you can have different parts of the body moving at different speeds, even better! Take a look at this clip from 101 Dalmatians. This animation is beautiful in many ways, all of which I wont go into here, but pay particular attention to the timing of the actions. Pongo is sleepy, so naturally there are lots of slow movements. But there are also faster moves for emphasis, such as the ear scratch, the collapse at the end where he lets gravity take over, or the high frequency shaking during the stretch. Not only are there three different speeds of animation, but some of these speeds are happening simultaneously. Another example would be to have a character shaking his head as he raises his arms up slowly in anticipation of a gesture. The more variation you can add to your timing, the better. I see a lot of student work where the characters are always moving in a "snappy" fashion. This is fun to watch for a while, but soon the timing becomes boring because there is no contrast. So don't forget to shift gears!


  1. Great observation! It would be wonderful to see more clips to illustrate this...

  2. What else is lovely in this clip are his spots elongating & shifting to emphasise the stretch in his yawn.

    It gives a real sensation of moving flesh.

    Great stuff.

  3. Victor,

    Thanks for posting this shot from 101 Dalmations. Animation is such a demanding art, it seems study and insight into the process is a never-ending journey!

    I found it helpful to read about varied types of movement, how they work together to create appealing animation; then seeing them work together in a short shot.

    Practice remains to cement the concepts in place, so they work to improve MY animation.

    Matthew- AM Session 4

  4. That's really cool! I'm gonna post a link to this on my blog.

  5. I love this idea Victor, simple but powerful. Seems like a great way to add some texture to the motion.

  6. It's funny how when I watch an old Disney movie, I tend to get so wrapped up in the story, half the time I forget to watch for the amazing motion (perhaps it's so believable, I forget someone had to make it happen?). Recently having seen 101 Dalmations, this moment slipped right past me, so thank you for pointing it out. Great work!


  7. Thanks a lot for posting this, Victor! Great stuff. :)


  8. classic! the other day i was watching Disney's "Robin Hood" (one of my favourites of all time) with one animator friend. She was watching it for the first time, and she said: "the animation is too slow". "Too slow?!" I said, no way! I think it is just that nowadays everything is animated at a frantic pace, we are used to characters jumping here and there all the time, really snappy but lacking appeal...

  9. ^^

    That's what I love about the animation in the Pixar films (and even the animation in something like Chicken Little), they have a good balance between the snappy fast paced animation, take Chef Skinner when he's talking to himself or searching for Remy, he moves really fast and does a lot of jerky head motions but then you have him in his more subtle scenes where he moves a lot more gracefully... but he's NEVER "floaty" like a lot of CG stuff you see today. Pixar has done an excellent job of completely avoiding the "floating from pose-to-pose" type animation that we see in a typical video game or TV show.


  10. The link (*.mov)is down...But

    But thanks for the post!
    Very good stuf i hadn't thought about!

  11. Link works fine for me. Try it again.

  12. this is Wonderful.. i have no more doubts about what's my mentors mean 'texture in timing'!! this is great stuff.. uh, it's amazing the way he did the stretch going on through the spine ! thanx victor..that's good stuff. more like a tutorial for someone like me whoz just stepping into animation..

  13. Hey Victor,
    thanks so much for that great tip!


  14. Variation in timing and energy does wonders for a scene. It also doesn't hurt to be Ollie Johnston.

  15. Thank you.. :O This helps so much!

  16. Hey Victor,

    Animation Mentor student here! This is really a great tip, not only a tip, but the product of careful observation by the animators at Disney.

    Recently, I've been studying a scene from Amadeus. And I came to the conclusion that the concept of having texture and contrast in speed is part of human nature because, we find it appealing, and good actors totally get it and enhance their performance by doing so.

    Great post Victor! :D Hope to see you back mentoring at AM someday!


  17. After viewing this several times I realized that the head moves in an arc slowly up and into the rear-leg scratching. So one part is moving quickly while the other is moving slowly. The interface between the two is how the head twists at each pulse of the rear leg... its wonderful how brilliant a 'simple' movement can be.

  18. Excellent post, would love to see you further elaborate on this with additional footage.


    - Tila

  19. I love these little bits sooo much Victor. I have looked at these little snippets on your site many many times, no matter how much you drill into your head about animation, there is always, always something else new to discover and think about.

    Thanks for the amazing resources, not to mention showing me a clip I haven't seen for a good 5-6 years if not more, that I now see in an entirely new context thanks to my further developed sense of animation.

    I can't wait to see this type of stuff again from Disney! Forever rockstars of the animation world, no matter how uninterested someone may be in the content, if you are truly interested in animation that little clip is enough to make you shed a tear.