2D Animation Principles
Illustration by John Hersey

2D Animation Principles

with Dermot O' Connor

Video: Comparing frame rates

From the early 1930s until the more recent advent of digital video and This is as simple as it comes. But this is how it feels.
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  1. 1m 42s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the exercise files
  2. 18m 9s
    1. Understanding appeal and design
      4m 3s
    2. Comparing body types
      6m 27s
    3. Understanding silhouette
      1m 52s
    4. Creating gesture drawings
      2m 50s
    5. Tying down the drawing
      2m 57s
  3. 18m 10s
    1. Comparing storyboard styles
      5m 8s
    2. Understanding shot composition
      4m 36s
    3. Demonstrating lighting
      4m 8s
    4. Understanding the 180-degree line
      4m 18s
  4. 13m 8s
    1. Understanding X-sheets (dope sheets)
      3m 25s
    2. Comparing frame rates
      4m 39s
    3. Creating sweatbox notes and preparation
      5m 4s
  5. 18m 42s
    1. Understanding arcs
      7m 38s
    2. Squash, stretch, and volume
      4m 59s
    3. Comparing timing and spacing
      6m 5s
  6. 10m 4s
    1. Using anticipation, overshoot, and settle
      4m 2s
    2. Breaking and loosening joints
      2m 43s
    3. Leading action
      3m 19s
  7. 19m 51s
    1. Understanding primary and secondary action
      4m 14s
    2. Using overlap and follow-through
      6m 0s
    3. Applying lines of action, reversals, and S-curves
      4m 34s
    4. Moving holds and idles
      5m 3s
  8. 15m 52s
    1. Understanding walk and run cycles
      5m 24s
    2. Creating eccentric walks
      6m 50s
    3. Animal locomotion
      3m 38s
  9. 14m 31s
    1. Finding dialogue accents
      2m 42s
    2. Creating dialogue through body movement
      2m 46s
    3. Creating stock mouth shapes
      5m 4s
    4. Using complementary shapes
      3m 59s
  10. 13m 8s
    1. Creating thumbnails
      4m 31s
    2. Comparing straight-ahead and pose-to-pose animation
      4m 37s
    3. Adding breakdowns for looseness
      4m 0s
  11. 2m 9s
    1. Next steps
      2m 9s

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Watch the Online Video Course 2D Animation Principles
2h 25m Beginner Apr 11, 2014

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Bring a cast of characters to life. By following the basics principles of animation, you can build characters that interact naturally with their environments, convey realistic emotion, and talk and walk convincingly. In this course, Dermot O' Connor shows how to design a solid character and stage and storyboard your animation before you begin. He'll examine principles like anticipation and squash and stretch, which provide characters with a sense of weight and flexibility, and show you how to animate walk cycles and dialogue. Finally, learn how to thumbnail scenes from start to finish, so you can sketch out the action before you commit to fully rendering it.

These lessons are designed with Flash in mind, but work just as well with any other 2D animation program.

Topics include:
  • Creating gesture drawings
  • Comparing storyboard styles
  • Squash, stretch, and volume
  • Comparing timing and spacing
  • Using anticipation, overshoot, settle, overlap, and follow-through
  • Creating eccentric walks
  • Building stock mouth shapes for dialogue
  • Creating thumbnails
3D + Animation
Flash Professional
Dermot O' Connor

Comparing frame rates

From the early 1930s until the more recent advent of digital video and digital cinema all or most motion pictures were on 24 frames per second. So let me show you what 24 frames per second looks like. This is as simple as it comes. It's just a sphere moving across the screen from left to right. There's one frame, or one drawing rather, for every frame, and this is in animation terms, called animating on ones. That means there's one drawing per frame.

Well, fortunately for us, sometime in the 1930s, the animators realized that you didn't have to animate on ones. You can animate on twos, and this meant they would do one drawing and hold that drawing for two frames. Let's see what that looks like. But this is how it feels. If you notice it might feel a little bit jaggier, and the weirdest thing will happen to you once you look at enough cartoons on twos or on 12 frames per second. After a while this jagginess will disappear. It's something that your brain simply adjusts to. You get used to seeing 12FPS, or on twos.

A lot of Japanese animation and lower budget TV animation is on threes. So these different frame rates exist, and they're very useful. And it's good to know what people are talking about when they say, it's on ones, it's on twos, it's on threes. It has a quite specific meaning. So that said, let me show you an extension of this and show you what these different frame rates look like and what they feel like. So here I've created a little animation, and it's the same ball that we've already seen, and I've created six versions.

On the top, eight frames per second, or on threes if you are on 24FPS, the kind of thing you would see on a lower budget TV cartoon. Below that a 10FPS. Below that 12, then 15, then 24, then 30. Now as you can see, 30 at the bottom is smooth, 24 just above is pretty smooth, and 8FPS you can almost feel it clunking across the screen. So I like to avoid 8, I think 8 is often pushing it. The tighter your drawings are, the closer spaced they are, the more you can get away with slower frame rates.

And in general, though, the more space between the drawings, the, the more urgently you're going to need to do it on 24 or 30. So again, this is something to watch and feel. And you'll rapidly develop a sense, if this is ever a factor in your work, of what you might or might not be able to get away with. Most of you are probably working on computer programs now and it's, you're already working on 30, this isn't relevant. But, there are those strange little jobs that come down the pike from time to time, they do exist and somebody will say, yes, the framing on this is 12FPS or 10FPS, so heads up and be warned for just exactly what that looks like and what it means to you as an animator.

There's one other small thing to be aware of when you're working at 24 or 30FPS. Even though most projects now are 30, again, you will occasionally encounter 24. So what this means is if you ever have an animation that has to hit specific beats there's some things that are better in 30 than in 24, and vice versa. Because you can only divide certain numbers into 24 and certain numbers into 30, that's just mathematics. So let's say you have a scene that has a, a specific beat, four times a second.

Not a problem at 24. It can be divided with absolute precision. But you can't do that at 30. You can't divide four into 30. You'll get 7.5. So if you want to do an animation that has a four beats per second animation, and you're working in 30, you have to cheat one of those frames. You got to move one of them from frame eight to frame seven. It won't be precise but nobody will really notice. But it might be a slight nuisance factor when you're animating. If I had a project that was entirely built around somebody animating walking on a one quarter second or four beats per second animation, I would want to animate that on 24FPS just for the ease.

But you know this is just one of the small things to keep in mind. And it really only comes up for me as a nuisance factor when I'm doing walk cycles, because when I do walk cycles I like to put my contact position here, that's when the foot first hits the ground, and then the opposite contact position here, and the passing position exactly between them. It's just really easy. And so when I work in 30 I have to cheat it. I have to cheat my passing pose onto frame seven or frame eight. It's not a big thing, but it's just one other thing just to be conscious about when you do start working with cycles at these different frame rates.

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