Thesis questionaire

Currently I’m working on my thesis which is basically on how traditional 2D animation compares with 3D and what is possible in the future. The main focus is on the 12 animation principles and MoCap + other technologies to speed up production. I was hoping that I might be able get some feed back from the community.

Much appreciated,
thanks for your time.


  1. Are you trained in traditional animation?

  2. Have you explored other manual forms of animation?

  3. What brought you into 3D animation?

  4. In your own words- what do you see as the most important benefits animating with a computer has?

  5. As an animator, do you feel that MoCap has, or could have, a place in your production environment?

  6. The 12 principles of animation breathe life into animation- is MoCap taking a way a necessary aspect of this?

  7. What would you say to the following statement- ”Animation isn’t an art form its an industry.”

  8. What would be your ideal way of animating- ie- what interface you would choose to work with, either currently existing or possible to create.

  9. General comments regarding current animation technology.

  10. General comments regarding current animated film and television productions.

thanks again.

Hi Matt, what kind of feed-back are you looking for? Did you want input regarding the questionnaire or are you looking for thoughts in response. I’m not qualified for the latter and these twelve points are something I’m going to have to look into again. :wink: [Found it here] And although I have some thoughts on the former I’m still not so sure your questions aren’t too sophisticated for me to address. I think you’ve made some good improvements though with regard to leading the answers.

Keep in mind that , for the most part, my field of study is creating fictional characters and worlds. So my bias is toward generating empathy from an audience. From that point of view I have to say there are still a couple of things you may want to look at. In question 6 for instance you could punch up the grammer a bit. Looking at any handy dandy thesaurus returns ‘moving pictures,’ or ‘cartoons’ for animation. In 8, “or possible to create” just doesn’t make sense at all. The ideas is there but I have to work at getting the concept into my mind and this detracts from the process. And then also in 9 and 10 there are actually no questions at all. I think that in order to make friendly with your volunteers you could be just a bit more verbose and accommodating.

After studying the questions for a few minutes I can see that you’re going to be talking only to computer animators and your questions are slanted toward their point of view. That makes sense. You wouldn’t want to pose the questions to a traditional animator. I also get the feeling that you are pressed for time and this feeling seems to be conveyed in your questons. Your audience will appreciate a relaxed, friendly environment.

You have some interesting questions. I’d kind of like to hear how the answers go. Since time is everything and the faster a project is compiled the more energy can be spent on the creative processes, any method that can achieve that goal is worthy of a second look. I hope my remarks help you with your survey but remember to take them with all due scepticism. I’m just an artist trying to make cartoons. :wink:


Hey Mark.

Thanks again for the feedback, much appreciated. – I guess what I really should do is bring up a discussion. Get peoples ideas and comments on some of the material I have found on the internet. There are two parts to my current year of study, thesis writing and implementation << the fun stuff. I do agree with what you have said about being more ‘verbose’ etc- .So if I could start a discussion on my area of interest I might be able to reach a few conclusions.

To add life to their animations, the artists at Disney had to work together, analyse and devise what made a character and its action so extraordinary. During the 1930’s people coined certain terms which described a way a motion worked on the film, the ‘Stretch and Squash’ of a character or the ‘Overlapping’ motion. These words were what have become known as the ‘Principles of Animation’. An invaluable source on the topic is “Illusion of Life” co-authored by two veteran Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston – Here is a brief extract of the 12 principles of animation.

Illusion of Life at amazon-

Mark D – found this one.—

Searching on the internet you will find hundreds of sites regarding these principles, some obviously will be better than others but generally they will be the same thing.

John Lasseter of Pixar -

CgNetwork Article

What I am really interested in is how animation is done—what more is there beyond the principles, techniques, ‘rules’, ‘formulas’, guides, templates – what really has to be thought of when creating animation? –

So before I go on I’d like you to read this little piece my Keith Lango—

Principles vs. Rules
It’s a deep part of human nature to try and reduce things to rules, principles or items on a checklist. To reduce something down to its List is to hold out hope that yes, you too can achieve the results you desire with less thought. Just do these magical steps and voila! Instant success! Formulas hold out the allure of surety, consistency, homogeny of result. Which is, as any thinking person understands, rubbish. Doesn’t matter if the topic is religion, politics, baking, writing or animation. People everywhere want the easy way. They like the List of Rules. They like the Formulas.

The greatest injustice ever done to the 12 Animation Principles as noted in “The Illusion of Life” has been a sort of calcification of the principles into these unbending rules over the years. Now this isn’t universal, but the notion does exist in the mind of many. I hear it in comments often. These 12 items have been taught, memorized, ingrained. Students across the world for decades have made them a mantra for their work. The allure is there. Just get these 12 things right and your animation will be perfect. As if you somehow shoe horn these 12 ingredients into your work you’ll have award winning animation.

Of course nothing could be further from the truth. You can’t apply these things without thought. And there’s a reason why the writers chose the word principles and not rules. Principles are a guiding thing. Rules dictate. Principles leave room for thought, exploration, advancement. Rules demand obedience. This is true for the Big-12, and it’s true for any process or method noted or recorded. Don’t fall back into formula thinking. Formulas are seductive. Homogeny of result isn’t really what you want. If you always “do walks” like A, or if you always “do a take” like B, or if you always “do blinks” like C, well, you’ll end up with stuff that looks like color by numbers animation. (Formulamation was the joking name we came up for it at work the other day.) Great animation, like all great art, isn’t color by numbers. There is no formula. Just principles.

Anything I write about on this site or in a tutorial will, by necessity, be broken down into sub-sets of information for easy processing. The nature of describing thing requires this kind of analytical approach. I’m sure it’s what begat the 12 Principles in the first place. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that anything said is a Rule or a Formula for success. It’s not. It’s just meant to help. The real progress comes from you, your thought, your observation, your effort. So read what you like, disagree as much as you like. Use what’s helpful, toss the rest. I’m certainly no master by any stretch of the imagination.

Animation principles are tools to give you guidance, not masters that demand utter unthinking obedience in their application.

From here I’ll jump across to an article on Animation World Network—Titled ‘Make It Real’ by Ellen Besen. In this article she interviews Chris Landreth (director of Ryan). This guy knows a thing or two and it wouldn’t hurt to skim over the article.

The article is in three parts-

For me this is a huge learning curve, I suffer the issue of not only ‘what to learn?’ But ‘how to learn?’ Effective animation IS more than just these principles – there is the technique and the software which you have to work through and understand also + the hidden mystery part of animation! I intend to find an effective process in both practice and theory to develop animation skills- It is not going to be a short project at all. I want to really see how an efficient pipeline can work on a small scale production. So if you are able to help out and add to this discussion that would be much appreciated. I invite anyone into this thread and hope you will be able to learn from this also.

Please feel free to post relevant links regarding animation in theory and practice as well as your thoughts on the issue.

Come back soon and I’ll post some more comments to start the discussion off. –


Oke, here goes :smiley:

1) Are you trained in traditional animation?

2) Have you explored other manual forms of animation?
Yes, besides 2D (cel - animation) i’ve used stop-motion animation. But it’s not my preferred technique.

3) What brought you into 3D animation?
The possibilities this form of animation has to offer.

4) In your own words- what do you see as the most important benefits animating with a computer has?
Speed and flexibility. It’s easier to work with other animators without having to worry about everybody drawing in the same style, compared to 3D.

5) As an animator, do you feel that MoCap has, or could have, a place in your production environment?

6) The 12 principles of animation breathe life into animation- is MoCap taking a way a necessary aspect of this?
No. MoCap is not animation, it’s a recorded performance of an actor or actress (or horse in case of LOTR :wink: ) MoCap has its benefits over animation but I don’t see it as a replacement for animation.

7) What would you say to the following statement- ”Animation isn’t an art form its an industry.”
It’s both.

8. What would be your ideal way of animating- ie- what interface you would choose to work with, either currently existing or possible to create.
Whatever works best, I’m not sure what that would be though :P. For me that would probably be maximum feedback. Like real-time playback and real-time texturing. I have also seen set-ups where pedals, joysticks and levers are directly connected to animation controls, that would be really amazing.

No general comments, sorry. Hope this helps.

Hey Madmesh thanks for that. – The implementation part of my thesis will involve experimenting with animation controls set-up in Maya and Motion Builder. Just the other week I was looking at trying to set up a game controller to a characters face, its pretty cool. Plus you might want to check out Motion Builder out.

We have it at school + lucky enough to have a mocap set-up. It’s pretty impressive to see realtime and textured model high poly even moving about. + We have a glove which we can use to set up and animate facial expressions with too. Our Maya tutor is more for animation than modelling etc and he is really into using this Mocap data as reference to animate over.

MadMesh are you learning maya aswell? – Have you experimented with using hand controllers etc?

Also last night I sent off a few questions to a Disney contact I have. When I get that back – and if it is appropriate I’ll post it up.


I have done an animation for a Dutch children television show in Maya with mocap data. It was my BA project for school, the MoCap data was recorded at a studio in Amsterdam.

Pepijn the Cat: You’l need Quicktime 6+ to play it. 18 MB

I have no experience with hand controllers or Motionbuilder. The MoCap data that we recorded was cleaned up and saved as Maya skeleton by the studio.