The Principles of Animation - Anticipation

Posted at Sep 11th, 2012 by AnimDesk.

Check out our second 'Back to School' series post called: 'Anticipation'. We will discuss, show examples and analyze the anticipation principle behind any animated cartoon, featured movie or a short blip.

When watching a scene(s) (animated or real) it is very important that the they lead from one to another. The next movements must be prepared in advanced before it happens. This is done by creating a Key action pose that anticipates the audience for the next thing to happen.

The anticipation can be a slight change (like face expression change) or a bigger action. For example, when a man is going to jump, he crunches down, compressing himself like a string, move his arms to the back of his body as is about to jump to his new position.

It is well known principle even from the old days of theatre, where the actors had to create an illusion of anticipation for the audience to keep them on their edge with excitement and curiosity.

The anticipation movement doesn't not raise the question about what the character is doing next.

In the old days of animation. the movements were robotic like and very unexpected. the audience most of the time did not know what to expect next and usually could not understand the meaning of the small scene or sequence.

Anticipation was one of the first few principles disney studio began to work on by acting on a box 'stage' in the studio as they were on a theatre stage. but acting a small gig where one need to get an item out of his pocket, the entire character has to be clear about its intentions (whole body needs to interact). This is done by breaking the scene into key shots with 'aiming' as was called back then. each pose has to be perfectly clear to the audience about what is going to be next.

"Taking an item out of a pocket" Scene Breakdown:

  1. Taking the arm backward.
  2. Tilt body slightly backward and inward (arm's position).
  3. Put the hand inside the pocket.
  4. Pause (anticipate item search),
  5. Take the hand out with the item in the character's hand.

Anticipation in a powerful tool to create action within your character. and without it there is little or no power to your scene. To many known sports anticipation movements are something we all accustomed too. To a basketball player, it is the moment he is about to shoot to the basket. To a soccer player, it is when he is about to kick the ball to towards the goal keeper and so on.