Animated Video Production

Animation Smears

William Gadea 07.06.2011

I was pleased to discover a tumblr dedicated to animation smears. Perfect topic for a tumblr!

What are smears? The site puts it well: “In live-action films, motion blurs are natural occurrences. In animation, you have to make them from scratch. And most of them are pieces of art by themselves.” Yes, they are. For very fast motions, it often just doesn’t look right if you don’t smear the action a little bit. So here are some frames Patrick Tuorto drew for our Sevanta job last year.

The first frame is what we call the anticipation frame: the characters — in this case, venture capitalists — are seeing the mass of papers heading towards them. In the second frame, you see the smear action of the arms as the VCs seek to shield themselves from the coming impact. And then in the third frame, you see the VCs at the end of their action. Notice how varied and interesting the final poses are! And let me point out a couple of other animation tricks: the stack of papers has distorted sideways on landing. This is what we call squash and stretch, and it is one of the core principles of traditional animation. Also notice the changed framing on the last frame, most obvious at the bottom of the picture. The camera has shifted because it is in the middle of a camera shake. We are simulating what the impact of a heavy object would be to the camera, and the net effect is that you feel the hit more. It’s like you’re in the room feeling the impact yourself.

To the best of my knowledge, IdeaRocket is the only specialist explainer studio to provide true traditional animation, where figures are re-drawn frame-by-frame to create movement, as opposed to the cheaper puppet animation, where limbs are rotated and elements are switched out.

William Gadea

William Gadea is the Creative Director and Founder of IdeaRocket.

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