Animation Notes From Ollie Johnston
by John Lasseter, Pixar
SIGGRAPH 94 Course 1 - Animation Tricks
"When I was
an animator at the Disney Studios, I
had a xeroxed list of simple notes from one of the great Disney
animators, Ollie Johnston, pinned to my drawing table. The list was
originally written down by another great Disney animator, Glen Keane,
after working as Ollie’s assistant for a few years."
have been an inspiration to me for
years. Even though they were meant for hand-drawn animation, I believe
that they still apply to computer animation."
animate a scene of a four-legged
character acting and walking: Work out the acting patterns first with
the stretch and squash in the body, neck and head; then go back in and
animate the legs. Finally, adjust the up and down motion on the body
according to the legs.
illustrate words or mechanical
movements. Illustrate ideas or thoughts, with the attitudes and actions.
- Squash and
stretch entire body for attitudes.
possible, make definite changes from one
attitude to another in timing and expression.
- What is
the character thinking?
- It is the
thought and circumstances behind the
action that will make the action interesting.
man walks up to a mailbox, drops in his letter and walks away.
A man desperately in love with a girl far away carefully mails a letter
in which he has poured his heart out.
drawing dialogue, go for phrasing.
(Simplify the dialogue into pictures of the dominating vowel and
consonant sounds, especially in fast dialogue.
- Lift the
body attitude 4 frames before dialogue
modulation (but use identical timing on mouth as on X sheet).
- Change of
expression and major dialogue sounds
are a point of interest. Do them, if at all possible, within a pose. If
the head moves too much you won’t see the changes.
move anything unless it’s for
on drawing clear, not clean.
has a function. Don’t draw
without knowing why.
- Let the
body attitude echo the facial.
- Get the
best picture in your drawing by
thumbnails and exploring all avenues.
- Analyze a
character in a specific pose for the
best areas to show stretch and squash. Keep these areas simple.
- Picture in
your head what it is you’re
- Think in
terms of drawing the whole character,
not just the head or eyes, etc. Keep a balanced relation of one part of
the drawing to the other.
- Stage for
most effective drawing.
- Draw a
profile of the drawing you’re
working on every once in a while. A profile is easier on which to show
the proper proportions of the face.
the break in the eyebrow relates to the
high point of the eye.
- The eye is
pulled by the eyebrow muscles.
- Get a
plastic quality in face — cheeks,
mouth and eyes.
- Attain a
flow thru the body rhythm in your
audience has a difficult time reading the
first 6-8 frames in a scene.
- Does the
added action in a scene contribute to
the main idea in that scene? Will it help sell it or confuse it?
animate for the sake of animation
but think what the character is thinking and what the scene needs to
fit into the sequence.
can be eliminated and staging "cheated"
if it simplifies the picture you are trying to show and is not
disturbing to the audience.
- Spend half
your time planning your scene and
the other half animating.