Animation Research: Reference Videos

Whilst animating I gathered up some of the the video references posted by the team and some references I found whilst searching the web together to work off of.

Edward put together this really useful video in which he acted out a series of walks and runs.


As seen in the video he covered a wide range of walks and runs, from fairly simplistic ones to very cartoony and exaggerated ones. Personally I think my favourite reference out of all of them  is the fourteenth walk example, it conveys a lot of personality, stern and somewhat menacing in appearance but quite animated. Really nicely done Edward!

Richard Lico

Sorcha showed us these animation reels created by animator Richard Lico to look into for potential animation ideas. Not going to lie, I kinda love these… alot…


My favourite out of all the Richard Lico show-reels Sorcha showed us, I love how well animated the characters are, in reference to what animation mentor article was saying in one of my earlier post, the characters are believable, realistic and have a great sense of weight. How each walk differs stood out to me as well, the female character’s movement (smaller in size) seems a lot lighter in comparison to the male characters movement (larger in size) who seems to throw his weight around more.In addition the walks and runs themselves are  clearly presented and seem easy to work off of.

Although a bit complicated for a beginner like me, I thought this video (by Richard Lico) was a great set of examples regarding body mechanics, including a wide range of thrusts, jumps and tackles. Not to mention a nice little dance breakdown.

In relation to using game reference footage, I recorded some myself. The following footage was recorded from the video game Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. The footage isn’t anything fancy but I’ve always been blown away by the animations in the game. Even if it is a simple walk cycle.

Walk Cycle References:




After recording the footage I brought it over to Adobe premier, and worked out the timing of the walk cycle which loosely translated into 20 frames per loop.

In contrast to the examples given in the Animators Survival Kit, the walk cycle shown above is a lot less exaggerated in comparison to the ones shown by Richard Williams. The general principles of how each body part moves is the same, the the movement seen above is a lot more realistic in my opinion. Regardless, cant hurt to study both!

Run Cycle Reference:

In comparison to some of the of run cycles I’ve seen this is probably one of the least exaggerated it appearance and seems more like a light jog as opposed to a full on run. However in comparison to the walk cycle seen about, there’s more of an emphasis on movement. The arms move in a greater arc, the body leans forward more when propelling itself.   So as stated before it not as exaggerated but the core movement of the body remains the same.

Really happy I took the time to record these references.


I came across this great animated reference video when I was feeling a bit lonely…


I was very lonely…

Animated by Felix Sputnik, I thought this video was an excellent reference when it came to animating, particularly for animating the female form.

From the video I noticed that when running, a female will keep her elbows in more in comparison to a typical male run cycle, however the forearms point out more in its backwards position. There’s also a greater emphasis on the on the movement of the hips. From the side the back seems to curve more where the lower back meets the torso and the movement seems a lot smoother and clean.

and the chest… bounces… more (research)

Another great animated reference by Felix Sputnik, similar to the last video, however it goes into more detail about how the body moves during a walk, the motion paths a particular body part will have during a walk and addressing areas such as perspective, pace and overlapping action.


Animation Research: Animation Body Mechanics and The Importance of Video Reference

Thought this was a really interesting post from Digital Tutors looking into the importance of studying video references when creating an animation.


It starts off by stating how we as animators recreate real-life actions and movements and how having an understanding of how people, animals and inanimate objects move and behave is essential to creating believable animations. Studying video references can play an important role in the creation process of a believable animation.

It suggests that video references are an invaluable tool through which to gain knowledge of how things move in the real-world. As well as being incredibly useful to use to use for a basic timing structure for your animation. Where you use a video player application to the breakdown the RAW footage frame by frame.


Analysing a video reference:

Don’t just use this reference for merely rotoscoping purposes; instead, really pick apart what you are seeing in the reference and why it’s happening. For example how are an individuals hips moving? how far do their legs stretch? etc. Constantly question and analyse how an individual is moving and think about how to not only recreate it but reinterpret it into a believable animation.

Some good points made here, definitely things to keep in mind if I use video references to work off, the idea of almost reinventing the footage into your own animation really stood out to me.

It also reminds me I need to start collecting some video references for my animations…





Animation Research: Body Mechanics

When referring to the brief set for animation, it stated that animations addressing body mechanics could include the following, Jumps, picking an object up, weight exercises, 180 degree turns etc. As a result I started looking into what others thought a piece of animation regarding body mechanics needed in order to work and I came across this article by Animation mentor:

Animation Tips & Tricks: What Makes or Breaks a Good Body Mechanics Shot? 


It explains when animating a character, the character has to be aware of it’s surroundings and the world it exists in. If the character is believable in this sense then the animation is successful.

In addition it addresses the idea that when creating a  body mechanics shot, our attention needs to be focused on the body and how it moves, where the audience believes that the animated character moved by itself and NOT that it was moved by an animator.

It’s states that In each body mechanics shot there is a sequence of activity that runs from the character’s brain through its body and you must decide what that sequence is before starting to animate, how this is shown is up to us, whether it be a simple turn of the head or a full on jump of terror.


The article goes on to explain that the area in which the body mechanics shot is made is in the breakdown process which we use to clearly explain how our character gets from point A to point B.

In greater terms, the breakdown defines the order in which the sections of the body move and how they move which leads to a visual representation of force in our animation.


Over all I found the article to be a good read, it explains what makes a good Body mechanics animation well and clearly. I can say that it helped me gain a slightly better grasp of what to expect whenever it comes to creating my own animation demonstrating body mechanics.

” What makes a good body mechanics shot is When the sequence of movement through the body is arranged and timed to represent the intended action and we believe that the character moved.”

-Animation Mentor

Animation Research: Run Cycle

Having learned so much about a typical human walk from The Animators Survival kit I decided to hit it up again for some research on a run cycle.

What differs a run cycle from a walk is that during a walk cycle, there is always one foot on the ground at all times, where as with a run cycle both feet are off the ground at some point for at least one position and of course a run cycle is quicker due to the fact we normally have less frames to work with.


With runs we can do all the things we can do with walks. for example, the head can go up and down, side to side,back and forth, the body can bend and twist in opposite directions, the feet flop in and out, etc.

However we cant do as much because we don’t have so many positions to do it in because a run is faster. Where a walk may span across 12 frames and a run would span across 6 frames.

So regardless of  a walk and run cycle being different, all the things I learned before hand from a walk cycle can be applied to a run.

For my run cycle I think I’ll animate it as a six frame cycle as its considered to be a good place to start as suggested in the Animators survival kit.


In contrast to walks, I’ve learned that runs have to be animated in ones because there’s so much action happening in such a short space of time.

Normal/ conventional Run cycle break down:

Contact Positions: The leg in the frontal position is straight, the ankle is making  slight contact with the ground, the leg in the backwards position is bend upwards.  Again the arms are  opposite to the legs to give balance and thrust.

Passing Positions: Because the leg isn’t entirely straight up on the passing position, lifting the pelvis,body and head only slightly.

Down Positions: The bent leg takes weight and the arm swing is at it’s widest and the hips are at their lowest.

Up Positions: The foot pushes off the ground, lifting the pelvis, body and head up to it highest position of the cycle.

All in all walk and run cycles seem fairly similar, however the torso and chest of the body seems to be positioned slightly forward in order to help create the illusion of the body projecting itself forward at a faster pace.


The faster a figure runs the more it leans forward

Keith Lango: The importance of Posing In Animation

In the early stages  of the project, whenever it started looking into into what makes a good animation, I refereed to a set of video tutorials my lecturer recommended a year ago. These great tutorials are a concoction of tips and tricks from Valve animator Kieth Lango. I found his set of tutorials covering the importance of posing to be particularly  interesting.


I broke down some of the key points that I took away from the tutorials

Posing: Is considered by many to be one of the most important things you can do in animation

“Your animation is only as god as your poses, you can have good timing, good overlapping action and good follow trough, but if you poses are not strong and to the point(telling a story), you do not have good animation.”

-Ham Luske

Good posing instantly communicates a character

Each poses should be have the ability to work as a single frame illustration

Good poses allow the audience to see into the characters soul

Story isn’t necessarily ‘king’ there plenty of animated films with relatively simple or weak stories.

Characters are king

The only reason a story means anything to an audience is because the audience CARES about the characters.

Pose has two primary functions

Appeal & Emotion

Appeal– allows the audience to easily access the soul of a character for a quick understanding of what the character is feeling

(Example: Gromit-Doesn’t talk, yet because it’s so easy to understand him from his appeal, we can understand exactly what he’s talking about, when he’s not even talking)


Emotion– shows who they are as a character and clearly express the true feelings in the heart of the character for that given moment

The character is in the pose

The pose reveals the character

The pose is not a synoptic of a movement

Movement is a symptom of a characters emotional state

Thus the pose is the primary mechanism for telling a story

Most animation is a series of Two dimensional shapes moving on a flat screen to convey a story or character, in this case we must focus on understanding how to best use two dimensional shapes to express ideas.

Poses are the meaningful arrangement of 2D shapes to tell the story.

What is a line of action?

He line of action is an imaginary line through the characters body that shows the primary force of a pose, indicating direction and energy (kinetic or stored) of the characters pose.

Pose variety

Vary the intensities of your poses and lines of action

Make one pose of greater importance than all the rest

Use all other poses in concert to lead to this key pose.

Reversing the line of action-builds contrast in the scene

Builds up and releases energy to move the character and the story forward

Uses for vertical line of action

Vertical lines of action are useful for adding a point of emphasis to a scene

Vertical lines of action,when contrasted against other strong directional lines are like exclamation points-useful to make a point.

So basically pose is key when animating, something I’ll have to keep in mind when working on my own animations.



Animation Research: Walk Cycle

Being considered by many to be the bread and butter of animation’ Chris Kirshbaum-Gnomon Workshop.

Animating a walk cycle seems to be a pretty important exercise that any good animator should be able to do.

I started looking into The Animators Survival Kit by Richard Williams


Funnily, Richard Willams define walking as ‘a series of controlled steps’ which I fought was a cool way of looking at a walk cycle.


I thought the diagram above demonstrated a nice prolific breakdown of a walk cycle because of how clearly and simply it demonstrates the stages of a walk.

A few things stood out to me when studying the following sequence of images.

  1. Each arm moves in coordination with the opposite leg, giving balance and thrust.
  2. As we dip down, we also speed up, releasing energy as we do so. Our arms are also at their widest point when this happens.
  3. Going up, we typically  lift our foot as little as possible, putting weight on our toes.
  4. As we rise up, we slow down. Storing up potential energy.
  5. Our foot guides down heel first for a softer contact with the ground.
  6. Every time we thrust forward our calf muscle puts up.


Normal/ conventional walk cycle break down:

Contact positions: The arms are always opposite to the legs to give balance and thrust.

Passing positions (The half-way phase): Because the leg is straight up on the passing position, it’s going to lift the pelvis,body and head slightly higher.

Down Positions: This is where the bent leg takes weight and the arm swing is at it’s widest.

Up positions (the push off): The foot pushes off the ground, lifting the pelvis, body and head up to it highest position of the cycle. The leg is then thrown out to catch us on the contact position that follows.

I found this information really useful when it came to understanding the basic mechanic of a walk cycle because it describes in detail what is happening with the body at each stage (contact,passing,etc)

However this is considered to be a walk broken down to it’s core, and doesn’t really address the polished movement of the head, shoulders, hands, legs and feet in a walk.

With further study, I came to realise that polishing the movement of the head,shoulders, etc, is a great way to loosen up an animation making it a bit more appealing and interesting.

As a result I started looking into how these body parts also move in a cycle, beginning with the shoulders, hips and head.


As mentioned before, the arms normally move opposite to the legs, in addition having the movement of the shoulders opposing the movement of the legs will give the animation more life.

From a front view, when the arm moves forward, the connected shoulder move forward and down. In contrast, when the arm moves back, the connected shoulder moves backwards and down.


You’ll also notice in the passing position both shoulders are level and uniform with one another.

With regards to how the hips and head moves during all of this is quite simple.


in the example above, as the right arm moves forward, the head tilts to the left and vice versa. So the tilt of the head is adjacent to the movement of the arms. As the legs move forward the hips tilt forward and down and as the leg moves back, the hips tilt up and backwards. The chest also moves adjacently to the hips.

Typically the head is slightly forward in the passing position. As shown below:


With further examination of a typical walk, I noticed that the legs and feet move in a very particular way.


As the the led comes forward, it curves slightly outwards along with the foot and on the passing pose it straightens itself slightly, retracting into it’s backwards position where the heel points slightly inwards.

When looking at how the foot moves in greater detail, it lifts slowly off the ground, gains speed as as it becomes central and finally  hits the ground at a faster pace. As seen below:foot_ref

And finally from a side view we can see the arms and hands move in an arc, during a typical cycle.


I’ve a feeling the research of Richard Williams will become a bit invaluable when it comes to creating the walk cycle. Everything is explained in such a clear and understandable way.  I’m really looking forward to getting down to some animating now.

Creative Strategies:Assignment Two Brief

Having completed our previous assignment (animated short) we were then given a breakdown of our next brief.



Assignment Due Date: Jan 8th (TBC)

“This assignment is broken into three parts, which will also include team presentations on week 12.

Individuals will be required to form/join teams, which will enable them to explore three of the areas of expertise listed below.  Lectures and practicals throughout the semester will help inform and prepare students for each area.

This type of project creates a new team dynamic and structure.  In previous projects the individuals have come together and rallied around a central project.  This assignment inverts the norm by making the team structure and dynamic support and develop the work and processes of the individual.  In this situation it is very easy to fall into the trap of working alone.  Teams will need communicate well to guide the central themes that are to be achieved.  Teams will meet regularly to share project outcomes, techniques learned during the process and support each other in solving problems.
Week 12 Presentations will demonstrate your development progress and allow for feedback to be given before the winter break.

So in contrast to our previous projects in which we were assigned a set team from the projects beginning to its end, this assignment has a larger focus on the work and development of the individual.


Part One: Animation

Based on the research of the principles of animation & animation techniques, create a series of animations, using a rig provided, or another suitable biped rig.
  • Walk/run cycles – Consider exploring different characteristics
  • Body Mechanics – Examples could include – Getting up from a seated or laying down position, a jump across a gap, turning 180 degrees etc
  • Plan, research, peer assess/critique and help your team mates.

You may also want to consider the following:

  1. Interaction between two characters

  2. Lip sync / facial animation

  3. Video reference

  4. Blocking vs Straight ahead animation.

    With regards to the assessment criteria revolving around the animation segment of the module, there seem to be three mandatory areas required for submission.

  • Either A walk or run cycle
  • An animation that addresses body mechanics
  • The research and response to feedback given by team members

I’m going to aim for at least 3 animations, a walk cycle, a run cycle and maybe a jump. I’ve always enjoyed animating and i have a good team that aren’t afraid to critique work so figures crossed, with a bit of research and feedback from my team my final animations should be good.

Part Two: 3D Modeling and UV Mapping

Create a 3D scene roughly based on one of the following pieces of concept art:

  • The dismantlement of the old art college and the newer buildings –
  • Sci-fi scene – Daryl Randall daryl-randall-sci-fi-scene


  • Pumpkin World – Emma McCormick emma-mccormick-pumpkinworld


  • Sci-Fi scene – James Daltonjames-hugh-dalton-a229bc3752-1622294_600605553357269_1946553757_o


  • Abyss – Katie Nobel katie-noble-shitkk6ucehb0u3b533twmgkw05pcx4ph39rn52v818


  • Night Scene – Katie Nobel katie-noble-rjf7tlxbbi0flxe5sxfs8zfd6uonz9pqvyjtwcuo1hq


  • Model the environments and building/vehicle/prop models with UV maps.
  • Coordinate modeling tasks with your team and create a full layout scene.  Each member should attempt a building & suitable vehicle model for their portfolio & development.
  • Render HD stills or a short fly-through animation with Ambient Occlusion or other clay-rendering techniques, Include comparison wireframe renders also.
  • Give credit to the concept artist on your blog/showreel
  • Plan, research, peer assess/critique and help your team mates.

Consider the following:

  1. Composition

  2. Polygon count/efficiency

  3. Organising scenes & clean models

  4. 3D modeling techniques

  5. UV mapping techniques

Based off the concepts we’ve been given to work off, looking forward to this assignment.

I’m not the most confident modeller at the moment but its an area I’ve always enjoyed working in and wanted to improve at so hopefully this assignment so give me the practice I need if not only to improve my skill set but to learn a lot about modelling in general.

Part 3: Pick One of the following (A to G):

A) Lighting and Texturing


B) 3D Sculpting


C) Concept Art


D) History and Theory


E) Compositing VFX


F) Simulation


G) Rigging

Based off the options above I decided I wanted to go into Compositing VFX

Add 3D and/or motion graphic elements to live action backgrounds.
Footage can be provided.


  • A shot or shots of live action footage with composited CG
  • A break down render demonstrating the composited layers and/or post effects
Consider the following:
  1. Scene Continuity

  2. 2D & 3D Tracking

  3. Matching Colours

  4. Matching Lighting

  5. Contact Lighting

  6. Atmospherics

  7. Light-Wrap Techniques

  8. Edge Blend Techniques

  9. Working with Shadows

  10. Grain Management

  11. Lens Distortion & Aberrations

  12. Match Move

  13. Rotoscoping


Visual effects is one of the main reasons I wanted to get into the industry. I’ve always been fascinated by CGI in film, especially when combined with live action footage, so looking into compositing and VFX looked like a great opportunity.

Hand-in: January 8th
Individual submission will take our usual form of:

  • Portfolio This project should have it’s own portfolio section on your personal website/blog. Portfolio should include final designs, renders, animations etc, created by you during each phase of the project.

  • Blog Your blog should capture your research, application of theory, and importantly your reflection as you go through the process of creating the content.  This project should have it’s own section and be organised in a thoughtful way.  It should also illustrate the development of your understanding of each of the areas of expertise above.  Include a 200 word reflective post on the assignment & module.

  • Team Assessment form Team assessment is an integral part of individual and peer development and should be completed at the end of each phase of the project.  Peer assessment will have a contribution to overall assessment in the assignment.

  • A copy of your maya files
    Please attach your maya and where applicable your photoshop/mudbox files in .zip archive.