What am I doing wrong...?

No matter what my animation looks like in Blender’s viewport, the final animation always looks too mechanical and too fast. Applying the principles of animation has slightly helped with this, but I can’t seem to ever get the results I want. It also doesn’t help that the viewport seems to run very, very slowly when I play my animation. (As a side note, what are the methods you all use to render your projects?)

Thank you for any feedback or advice on how to deal with this- I’ve been struggling with it for quite some time.

If you’re having problems visualizing your animation as a whole because of slowdown issues, make quick low-polys and animate them instead. Like a mannequin sized for your rig. Won’t give you detailed clipping information, but it’s actually better for seeing the exact “shape” of the animation than a detailed model that’s blindingly loaded with personality (I remember reading a book where a hand-drawn animator said to draw animations without eyes to not get distracted.)

You can always open a graph editor window and scale everything out in the time axis. Timing of actual actions is difficult and it’s worth planning these out with markers. If you’re having trouble getting it right, get a cheap webcam and video yourself performing the action to get a reference / better sense of when the keys occur.

That seems like a pretty good idea. As an update, I noticed it helps if I parent the mesh to the armature, and then temporarily move the mesh to another later. The tricky part is the facial movements!