Spontaneous Life : Timing tip

I've seen this article when i was researching on something else. I found it interesting and thought of sharing it to all you guys. It often happens to me i start looking for something and i end up collecting something else .

Life is very much about spontaneity, unpredictability, and surprises. The higher the life form is the more unpredictable and spontaneous it will become. Can you predict about a tree? Yes, you can predict a lot about its position (it cannot run away and surprise you in any way!), natural behavior (its ability to produce fruits, flowers, smell, etc.), and overall look (its color, size, etc.). You can easily say that the tree will continue to stay at its place for years and years and not much will change for it. It’s a lower life form having a lower degree of freedom and thus, quite predictable. What about a monkey! Can you predict much about it? Well, not to that extent. You can just generally predict about its position, natural behavior (reproduction, food habits, etc.), and overall look but specific details are unpredictable. They are all quite variable with time, mood, emotions, etc. A monkey is a higher life form having a higher degree of freedom and thus, quite spontaneous and unpredictable. We humans are still higher in the ladder and even more unpredictable than those monkeys!

In short….. Spontaneity and unpredictability are the properties of life. And where there is life, these properties must be present in one way or another.

As an animator, your job is to create an illusion of life, so you’ll have to spend most of your time creating that ultimate flavor of life by bringing spontaneity and unpredictability in your work (do not take unpredictability as something negative. It’s sometimes good for your animation and adds life to it.). So you’ll spend a lot of your time creating texture and contrast in your timing (holds, offsets/delays), poses (silhouettes, line of action, flow lines), spacing, net displacement (vertical and horizontal), and character behavior/emotions, etc. All this will help you to bring that flavor of life and make your animation stand out. Otherwise, everything will tend to look mechanical and robotic, and there will be no spontaneity of life.


Contrast in timing is very important to natural-looking motion. Even jazz composers break up the rhythms they have created to make their music more interesting (I was a percussionist/drummer in my junior high and high school orchestra so I know this very well!). You need to do the same to your animation and adjust the timing of the motion to have greater impact. The timing of your poses should have a natural feel, a rhythm, texture, and flow, much like great music. The beats and the rests in the music between the verse and the chorus to hold interest, and so should your animation.

Look at the above image. The second hop is a lot quicker than the first one. Notice, the last hop is going higher than the rest. This makes it look more interesting and adds life

So, PLAY with your timing and move your frames around until the timing feels natural. This goes for any kind of animation (CG, 2d, or stop-motion). Nail your poses and then finesse the timing. The finesse step is the most difficult part of animation and also the most important!Hope this helps some of you.