Emphasizing Animation Timing to Convey Weight and Force
Animating a believable sense of weight and power is probably one of the most challenging tasks an animator will have. It takes a keen understanding of Timing and Spacing (one of 12 Animation Principles) to animate anything that should appear to be affected by a gravitational pull. As you become comfortable with Timing and Spacing, you can then begin to develop techniques to exaggerate the timing of your animations so that your characters' actions are crystal clear. This is where things get REALLY interesting. In this article, we'll have a look at a few of these techniques!
As Light As an Elephant
First, a quick introduction to Timing and Spacing: Timing is the moment when your extreme keys, or major poses, occur, and Spacing is the transition between each of these extremes. As we stretch our Timing and, consequentially, our Spacing further and further apart, this results in a slower-paced action. As we bring our keys closer together, this accelerates movement. With that said, let's say you are tasked with an awesome shot that involves a character jumping in your scene. With basic knowledge of Timing and Spacing you can begin to play around with the Timing of your extremes to convincingly add weight to this kind of action. In this instance, you'd want to bring your keyframes closer together at the time of the fall to convey weight.
You can then start refining the character's movements by introducing Spacing so that all of the movements that should occur in an action like this feel convincing.
On the other hand, if you were animating a balloon that was descending gracefully to the floor or if you're animating a character that is GINORMOUS, you'd want to make sure your keys are spread apart enough to sell these kinds of illusions.
Though these are rather rudimentary examples, they are, nonetheless, the foundation for animations that involve more advanced Timing and Spacing, like an attack.
The Force is Strong
Now, let's discuss how the Principle of Timing and Spacing can be exaggerated to show force and power. For this explanation, we'll focus on a stylized action sequence one would see in a game. Your timing should be overemphasized for an attack sequence in order to create the illusion of a forceful strike. If this isn't done, the character may seem weak and unconvincing. Below are examples of an action's timing purposely exaggerated to show power and the same action lacking the timing it should have.
As you can see, without the over-accentuation of this sequence's Timing and Spacing, this animation immediately loses it appeal, which significantly drops its entertainment factor, and can cause the player to lose interest in both the character and game.
[Timing with exaggeration]
[Timing lacking exaggeration]
To sum it up, make sure to become more knowledgeable of one of the most important Principles of Animation: Timing and Spacing. Once you begin to understand this key principle, start experimenting with it! Animate an action, then over-emphasize its timing, whether it should be fast or slow, so that you can develop an animation style that enhances the quality of your character's performance. In so doing, you will not only find yourself enjoying your progress, but you might also find your audience highly appreciative of such a creative endeavor!