When a character entering a scene reached the spot for his next action, he often came to a sudden and complete stop. This was stiff and did not look natural, but nobody knew what to do about it. Walt was concerned. "Things don't come to a stop all at once, guys; first there's one part and then another." Several different ways were eventually found to correct these conditions; they were called either "Follow Through" or "Overlapping Action" and no one really knew where one ended and the other began. There seemed to be five main categories.
1. If the character has any appendages, such as long ears or a tail or a big coat, these parts continue to move after the rest of the figure has stopped. This is easy to see in real life. The movement of each must be timed carefully so it will have the correct feeling of weight, and it must continue to follow through in the pattern of action in a believable way, no matter how broadly it is cartooned.
2. The body itself does not move all at once, but instead it stretches, catches up, twists, turns, and contracts as the forms work against each other. As one part arrives at the stopping point, others may still be in movement; an arm or hand may continue its action even after the body is in its pose. (Peg Leg Pete's belly continued to bounce and sag interminably.) In order to put over the attitude clearly, the head, chest, and shoulders might all stop together.
since this is the part the audience should see (the part that registers how the character is feeling). Then a few frames later, the rest of the parts would settle into their final position, possibly not all at the same time. When the whole figure has come to a stop in a definite attitude, this is called a "held" drawing.
Some of the animators thought we were getting too fussy, but that was only the beginning as Walt saw new possibilities in the work his men were doing. Les Clark said with a chuckle, ". . . we couldn't understand sometimes why he was giving us hell for something we thought was acceptable. Then later on we knew what he was talking about."
3. The loose flesh on a figure, such as its cheeks or Donald Duck's body or almost all of Goofy, will move at a slower speed than the skeletal parts. This
trailing behind in an action is sometimes called "drag," and it gives a looseness and a solidity to the figure that is vital to the feeling of life. When done well, this technique is scarcely detectable as the film is projected. In effect, the animator is drawing in the fourth dimension, for he is depicting a figure the way it would be at only that precise moment. The drawings are not designed to be viewed by themselves, but only in a scries projected at an established speed.
Many comic actions have been based on this principle, as the fat on a running character drags farther and farther behind, until the ultimate occurs: the skeleton runs off, leaving the flesh to fend for itself. This type of exaggeration will bring laughs in the shorter films, but the chief value of this kind of Follow Through lies in its more subtle uses.
4. The way in which an action is completed often tells us more about the person than the drawings of the movement itself. A golfer takes a mighty swing, which covers only a few frames, but what happens to him afterward can easily take five feet of film and is much more revealing, whether he is graceful and slick in his follow through, or wraps himself up in a knot. The anticipation sets up the action we expect (or is it the action the character expects?), the action whizzes past, and now we come to the "punch line"
more entertaining the action itself could be, or what it could tell us about the character's personality.
5. Finally, there was the Moving Hold, which employed parts of all the other elements of Overlapping Action and Follow Through to achieve a new feeling of life and clarity. When a careful drawing had been made of a pose, it was held without movement on the screen for a few frames—at least eight, maybe as many as sixteen. This was to allow the audience
of the gag. the follow through, which tells us what happened—how it all turned out. Obviously, the ending should be considered part of the entire action before any drawings are made, but. amazingly, the ending was hardly ever developed in early animation. It was enough just to do the reach, the throw, the kick, and no thought was given to how much time to absorb the attitude. That amounted to less than a second, but it was enough. However, when a drawing was held for that long, the How of action was broken, the illusion of dimension was lost, and the drawing began to look fiat. A way had to be found to "hold" the drawing and still keep it moving!
The answer was to make two drawings, one more extreme than the other, yet both containing all the elements of the pose. It was explained this way: "You hit the pose, then drift on beyond to an even stronger pose—everything goes further, the cheeks go up, the ears fly out. the hands rise: he goes on his toes, his eyes open wider, but essentially he's still in his pose." Now we could use the Follow Through on the fleshy parts to give us the solidity and dimension. we could drag the parts to give the added feeling of weight and reality, and we could strengthen our poses for more vitality. It all added up to more life in the scene. The magic was beginning to appear.
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