Timing notes

timing post-it I sometimes work on my animated film late at night, when the family is long asleep and I’ve worked enough in the day that I can’t stand the sight of a keyboard or mouse. Unfortunately in those times, I also can’t seem to draw anything worth saving, or muster the effort to start a new scene. Rather than stare at a stack of blank punched paper, I look at thumbnail drawings, think a little bit, and then come away with something like this image.

It has been said many times before, that animation is all about timing. Look no further than Flash web cartoons. More than half are crudely drawn and so limited as to make the Flintstones look like full animation. But when they work, it’s because the creator had some knack for timing, and pulled some small acting miracle out of the spacing, replaying and tweaking it again and again on the Flash timeline.

Traditional animators, by comparison, have it a little tougher. Some investment must be placed in the hand drawings before taking the stack of 50 or more sheets to pencil test under a video camera. So we scribble in the margins, plan it out, and hope for the best.