The number of drawings used in any move determines the amount of time that action will take on the screen. If the drawings are simple, clear, and expressive, the story point can be put over quickly, and this was all that concerned the animators during the early period. Timing in those cartoons was limited mainly to fast moves and slow moves, with accents and thrusts calling for special handling. But the personalities that were developing were defined more by their movements than their appearance, and the varying speed of those movements determined whether the character was lethargic, excited, nervous, relaxed. Neither acting nor attitude could be portrayed without paying very close attention to Timing.
The complicated relationships that came with Secondary Actions and Overlapping Movements called for extensive refinements, but even the most basic moves showed the importance of Timing and the constant need for more study. Just two drawings of a head, the first showing it leaning toward the right shoulder and the second with it over on the left and its chin slightly raised, can be made to communicate a multitude of ideas, depending entirely on the Timing used. Each inbetween drawing added between these two "extremes" gives a new meaning to the action.
One inbetwcen Two inbetweens
Three inbetweens Four inbetweens Five inbetweens Six inbetweens
Seven inbetweens Eight inbetweens Nine inbetweens Ten inbetweens
The character has been hit by a tremendous force. His head is nearly snapped off. . . . has been hit by a brick, rolling pin, frying pan. . . . has a nervous tic. a muscle spasm, an uncontrollable twitch.
... is dodging the brick, rolling pin. frying pan. ... is giving a crisp order. "Get going!" "Move it!" ... is more friendly, "Over here." "Come on—hurry!" . . . sees a good-looking girl, or the sports car he has always wanted.
. . . searches for the peanut butter on the kitchen shelf. . . . appraises, considering thoughtfully.
fast action on "twos" had more sparkle and spirit than the same action with inbetweens, which tended to make the Timing too even and removed the vitality.
Any time there was a pan move in which the character's feet or a point of contact with the background were shown, the action had to be on "ones" to match the moves on the pan. or there would be slippage which looked peculiar. Similarly, if the camera were moving in any direction (which must be on "ones"), there would be a strange jittering unless the character's actions were on "ones" also.
When more elaborate actions were called for and more delicate changes had to be seen, the animators resorted to the use of "ones"—sometimes throughout the scene and otherwise only in certain places. A scramble action or speed gag, a sharp accent or flurry of activity, the pay-off after a big anticipation, all needed "ones." But the choice was still difficult to make if the animator had not gone through a period of experimenting and trying and failing and trying again. Only then did he build up a backlog of experience that would guide him through these perpetual decisions.
Was this article helpful?