11/3/09

The Walk Cycle - Work In Progress

This week is kind of a small, but important assignment: the walk cycle. Obviously most cartoon characters need to walk to get from one place to another and it is important to understand how to do that. Defining the walk of a character is typically done by seasoned animators and not for newbies, and after doing one, I can understand why. You have a lot of things to worry about!

Walking is essentially falling forward and catching yourself. We do it so naturally that we just don't notice that is what it is. Your arms also move counter to your legs, as well as your shoulders move counter to your hips. As a rule, there are usually five important parts to a bipedal walk cycle:
  1. Contact position: Where the heel makes contact
  2. Down position: Where the forward leg takes the impact of falling
  3. Crossthrough position: Where the limbs are passing through
  4. Up position: Where the previously down leg thrusts the body upwards
  5. Contact position: Where the other heel makes contact
When creating a walk cycle, you must also think about timing. A typical, average walk of a human being is about 1/2 second per step or 12 frames. Therefore an average walk cycle is usually about 24 frames or 1 second. You can get away with making a walk cycle out of 12 drawings, shot on twos, and loop them for however long you have a character walking.

I thought I would also demonstrate the difference between shooting on twos and shooting on ones. When you shoot on twos, that means every drawing you make takes up two frames of film. Most hand-drawn animation is done this way because it saves you time (and therefore money) in the end. You can even shoot on threes, which they did for a while in the 50s and 60s, but anything lower than that will get noticed by your brain. The only time in hand-drawn animation in which you shoot on ones (that's one frame of film per drawing) is on very fast motions.

Here is an example of my walk cycle shot on twos:

video

It works, but there are some places where the motion gets choppy. I could smooth it out by 'blurring' the really fast members, but I had enough time to do all the inbetweens:

video

You can see how much smoother it is when you shoot on ones. All CG animation is shot on ones because the computer does all of the inbetweens so you don't have to.

I'm waiting to get some feedback on this before I submit my final version. This is the last week we are doing traditional animation. Next week we jump into Maya... and I have a whole ream of unused animation paper...

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