Animated Video Production

A Little Animation Nerdery

William Gadea 07.22.2010

Usually when I teach the walk cycle I have the highest point of the arm swing come at the heel-toe position. I recently took a look at Richard Williams, however, and I noticed that he has the highest point of the arm swing come at the landing position.

highest point1
Oh no. Had I been teaching it wrong all this time? This didn’t seem right, from observation. So what did I do? The same thing animators have been doing for decades… I went to Edward Muybridge for reference. Muybridge was a 19th century photographer and flagrant genius who became fascinated by human and animal motion, and documented it in serial photography.

highest point2
As you can see, the highest point of the arm swing here comes at the heel-toe. And it isn’t a fluke either… on other Muybridge plates you see the same thing. Is there some kind of consensus among animators that the arm swing should come later? Apparently not. Here’s Preston Blair:

highest point3
So is Richard Williams just wrong? I don’t think so. I think he’s trying to improve on reality. It’s a subtle difference, and both walks seem natural enough, but by overlapping the actions the Williams walk seem a little more integrated, a little more pleasing to the eye. The walk has less of that nordic track feel.

William Gadea

William Gadea is the Creative Director and Founder of IdeaRocket.

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  • Can’t believe I found this!
    I’ve spent lot of time watching reference, also taping it myself and even downloaded a frame by frame software because always seemed like that arm swing in R.Williams book isn’t “right” and everyone doing it like that made me watch even more reference. Finding others who think like I do makes my soul rest haha. I also think anyway that the way R.Williams does it looks great but as W.Disney said “to make the fantastic, we have to understand the real”.

    • William Gadea

      Relieved somebody else is interested in this! I took a (single) class with Richard Williams once… I wish I had done it after I discovered this, I might have asked him about it.

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