Join Dermot O' Connor for an in-depth discussion in this video Breakdown basics turns, part of 2D Animation: Tips & Tricks.
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- A breakdown is often thought of simply as the largest gap between two keys, as in this example. Key one, key two, breakdown. This can be the case, but in skilled hands a breakdown is much more than that. Let's look at the simplest possible breakdown, right here. When the turn is fully inbetween, we get this smooth but bland turn. Note that the turn does nothing of interest. The eye lines, the nose lines, all of it. They're just flat.
The center breakdown is as dull as you could hope for. It's 50 percent, right down the middle. So there's the overlay, for proof. So let's do something more exciting on the breakdown. And let's see how this affects the entire animation. Let's dip the head. Instantly, this is a different scene. Now bear in mind that the keys are supposed to be the most important frames. But see how we can vastly improve the action by adding this extra movement to the breakdown.
So when we see the keys in the breakdown side by side as one image, you can see the dip, with the red line for the eye lines. That's the only change I made. And here they are overlaid exactly as they appear relative to one another, for comparison. So now we'll do the opposite, and on the breakdown I'm going to move the head up and see what that does. That's pretty cool, but it's like he's looking at a jet flying by or something. I wouldn't use this sort of turn very often. It's more natural to dip on a turn, but this is still interesting. And here they are side by side, and again overlaid for comparison.
Now we're going to do something much more subtle. There's no rule that says we have to place the breakdown in the precise center of the turn. We can favor one key or the other. So in this case, I've made it radically close favor. I think about one-sixth towards the first key, and I've added a slight tilt to the head. So it feels like he's leading into the turn with his ear. Now this is just incredible. It really looks zingy. When you start to create these kinds of breakdowns, you're moving away from the simpler styles of animation common to TV shows and webisodes, and those kind of things, and you're moving closer to feature quality work.
So again, here are the three images, side by side, so you can see the dip on the ear if you compare to that red line. And here they are overlaid for a comparison in terms of space, the amount of motion from one to the other. So this shows you the power of experimenting with the breakdowns. When I created this particular breakdown, I really wasn't entirely sure what it would look like. I had a general idea, but I didn't think it would look this cool, honestly. I could've done all kinds of different favors, or motions, or moved it up to one side, or varied it in any number of ways.
We've already seen how this small selection of adjustments to the breakdown completely transform the overall animation. So don't take your breakdowns for granted. Think about them, and find out if you can add some extra magic to your scene, just by being brave with the breakdowns.