Are you interested in learning Animation Principles?


A hypothetical :

Say for example you were at a Cinema 4D training event and as well as lectures on mograph stuff, xpresso etc, one of the presentations was all about the classic animation principles and how they apply to CG character animation. Included in that would be analysis of clips from movies with a discussion on how the principles are being applied, how the principles from hand drawn animation can translate to CG and explanations on what makes good animation vs bad animation.

In a nutshell, the lecture would be less about the nuts and bolts of the technical side of animation and would focus more on the art side, something (IMO) that’s often neglected in many tutorials on animation that we typically find on the web. Rather than demonstrating how to ‘animate a walkcycle’ or other typical action, the lecture would be more about how to think about animation in general.
The lecture would reference C4D of course in the discussion, but really it would be pretty general and could apply to any app (or even other forms of animation like hand drawn/stop motion).

So… is this something you might be interested in? Any thoughts and comments appreciated.



Personally I have a greater need for the nuts and bolts – applying the principles – than I do for animation principles, which are well covered in classic texts like The Animator’s Survival Kit, Timing for Animation, the old Maestri books, etc.


Thanks, that’s exactly the kind of feedback I’m looking for.

For me the one issue with trying to work from books like the Animators Survival Kit in CG is that while the principles in it are of course very solid, many of the examples are really pushed and don’t really work that well in CG (I’ve even seen some pro animators say that many of them don’t even work that well in 2d as they are so exaggerated). If you try to animate a walkcycle using the poses in many of them for example the results look pretty nuts compared to the typical walks we see in most CG movies which are a lot more naturalistic.

Can you elaborate on what kind of things you struggle most with regarding nuts-and-bolts stuff?



For sure, the Survival Kit is focused on really cartoony stuff. I wouldn’t try to translate it directly, but the principles are still well covered.

As far as the nuts and bolts … well … everything. :slight_smile: I just don’t have a call to do CA that often so when I do need it I always end up having to relearn a lot of stuff. What would be helpful for me would be an A-Z type series, starting with rig creation, IK/FK, maybe a simple face rig, and then going through an actual animation – the part that isn’t often covered – to see how someone who knows what he’s doing actually organizes things, puts the system in action, lays down the keys, adjusts curves, etc.

Or really, for me, it could start with the completed rig and just document the animation process. There’s already a lot out there covering rig creation, but not so much on what follows. That could, of course, include animation principles. In fact I guess it would have to so you could describe why you’re doing what you’re doing.

So maybe something like: character walks across the room, picks up the phone, sits down, has animated conversation (no pun intended), stands up, throws the phone at the wall…


Well, for my part, I believe that there can never be too much focus on foundational techniques. Not just the how’s but the why’s. When I used to teach Kung-Fu, even after nearly 10 years, I still practiced my white belt basics daily, and it improved every other facet of my skill-set in that art.

What I think is missing in the CG educational realm these days is this kind of stuff. There is plenty of content related to “this button does this” and more and more content along the lines of “here’s a sweet technique to make some flashy but of kit”, but there is a sore lack of basic fundamentals of the craft. Sure, there are books, but many folks aren’t great at learning from a text, but thrive in more immersive environments.

So, the onus here is on someone to make an engaging, immersive educational experience which strips away specific software stuff in favor of broadly applicable basic foundational information. I think many artists could benefit from such training.


I think that if I turned up for a training seminar (i assume youre talking about whatever the next maxon open day in London might be?), personally I would be there for the nuts and bolts. I want to know tools, how to use them, which to ignore, cool tricks and hacks etc.

All the squash and stretch, anticipation etc stuff is widely available through numerous books. Its fine if the lessons say “heres a cool tool which makes secondary jiggle easy” or “store an anticipation pose with this tool” but I wouldnt want to spend much time on it.


Dunno… what are you actually missing, in some examples please? The Twelve Principles pop up in books and magazines regularly (3D World must do them once a year, it seems…), and everybody who’s seriously interested in animation has watched his DVD collection in frame-by-frame mode for studying them. In my opinion, they are quite well understood and documented.

What I am looking for would not be a basic nuts and bolts type lecture either. I know what button to press, how to set a frame, or to walk the mysterious ways of joint weighting. I guess I will learn more nuts and bolts along the way. That, too, is sufficiently documented.

But what tutorials I find always end after the basics. Now I have a walkcycle, so what? That’s not even a head-over-shoulder tumble. I would like to see the truly advanced stuff. Starting with basic elements like layered joints, dynamic skeletons, and disjunct XPresso-driven joint hierarchies. What specialties do you apply to a rig, why is your toe joint bent backwards (examples please), what do you need in your rig if you alternate between two-leg and four-leg walking? What do I have to know when I want a character to run, then jump, grap a swinging rope, and climb it (using hands and feet), then jump off, roll, and strike a pose? How do I approach a dynamic fight with several characters tackling and throwing each other? Where can I actually blend motion, and where does it look cheap and artificial?


Personally i think that conscious and intelligent person can learn principles by getting basic knowledge abut this “list” of principles and the rest comes from observation and analysis of motion in real world. Basically good observers have potential to be good animators. What always was kind of misery to me is workflow of talented animators involving complicated sets of motion. Something like jump, roll, jump again and hold to something, then swing and jump while back-flipping… .Basically, stuff involving change of position of root controller in different phases of complicated motion.I saw one time some guy using that script in maya which gives you ability to move root controller in the middle of animation to different position while maintaining global position animation of child hierarchy. Also not long ago while watching falling skies I’ve noticed that mech animation is not at the same level of rest of creatures. Than i realize that for example robots in Transformers moves more like a human than a robot( maybe this was intentional), but honestly good “robot like” animation is kind of tough stuff. Also free-fall is interesting topic, especialy the way airflow influence balance and movement.


As already mentioned the twelve principles are covered everywhere, so even to say the the Survival Kit’s examples don’t all work which I’d argue are also certainly a matter of taste and style, there are just as many other examples discussed out there to develop a more informed decision than a single lecture.

In terms of C4D specific I would have to double check but I believe Donovan had some on Cineversity and there is a video on it in my FXPHD class too, video 4 I believe.

That said I also would fit in the more the merrier for training material but its less attractive each time it’s one that costs money. Having studied animation traditionally, and the. Through animation mentor in term of more detailed and structured classes for each specific principle I’d say that each instructor/explanation/example varies in terms of clarity and accuracy etc that the best thing one can do is study a few and compare.

In terms of a formal C4D lecture event I’d so be like Mash and prefer technical classes. It I think that a good course summary would help with that. I simply wouldn’t partake in that class if there was something more technical specific to C4D.

Tough call.


As others have said, There’s already plenty of Material out there about the principles and how to think about animation, more people want to know specifics of how to work in a program to animate. That would be more beneficial to people especially when coming from another software package.

If this is for the UK event like Mash said, then I think even more so it should be nuts and bolts. Animation principles is something people can pick up in many other places, but if I’m going to an MAXON event, I’m expecting to learn new techniques and tips in CINEMA 4D, not theory that is better found elsewhere.

My two cents


As most other posters, I’d rather learn more about the technical side.
Animation principles are important, but as everyone said, you can learn this in other books or videos.

What I’d really LOVE to see is more stuff about character animation in C4D. For example, there is no good tutorial (either online, book or video) about using mocap in Cinema 4d, while we have tons tutorials about this for Maya and 3dsMax.


Many thanks everyone, I think I have my answer :slight_smile:

          A friend of mine gave me some great advice years ago when I started teaching music that has always stuck with me, he said 'teach what you are passionate about and you will inspire your students and that's the secret of being a good teacher'. I strongly believe he was right.
         The thing is in this case, that although I make part of my living rigging and doing technical stuff like working with mocap, scripting etc etc, that has always just been a job to me, animation is what I'm actually passionate about. I only learned rigging in the first place so that I could have rigs to animate with. Same thing with scripting, for me it's just a way to cut down on boring repetitive stuff and get to the fun stuff sooner.
         Regarding animation tricks.. well apart from some workflow stuff (like using mirroring scripts to create walkcycles faster, or using my 'tween' scripts for controlling spacing more easily - both of which I've already given away) I don't really have any, I think being a good animator boils down to the same thing as being a good musician, or a good dancer or a good anything-else : practice!

Where can I actually blend motion, and where does it look cheap and artificial?

         IMO - blended animation, even blending IK/FK over a few frames always looks terrible, those are frames where you are giving up control over the motion and letting the machine do it for you. If you want good animation with a spark of life to it I don't think you can ever do that really.

So maybe something like: character walks across the room, picks up the phone, sits down, has animated conversation (no pun intended), stands up, throws the phone at the wall…

What always was kind of misery to me is workflow of talented animators involving complicated sets of motion. Something like jump, roll, jump again and hold to something, then swing and jump while back-flipping.

         Well, to address those two points (and the others along similar lines about complicated motion). I've done 3 14 week workshops at iAnimate in the last couple of years. I've watched some of the best animators in the world (I'm talking about people who work at Disney, Bluesky, Dreamworks etc) demonstrate their processes, and really while they have different methods (some work more layered, some more pose to pose, some stay in stepped longer, some block in spline, some rely a lot on video reference, some thumbnail or rough out in 2D first) ultimately they are all working on the same thing - the principles! They are all constantly checking arcs, weight, overlap, spacing, timing etc etc!! There is no trick!! it's really observation, understanding the principles and training your eye to see. 
         Even those guys would not find any of the actions described above easy to animate so there's no way I would attempt to teach something like that in an hour long lecture.  The people in the studios that tend to get the shots with crazy physical actions like that are typically the ones who know how to do those actions in real life. There's an animator called Michael Kiely for example ([]( at iA that as well as being an amazing animator is a highly trained martial arts expert, as one of his friends who has worked with him at Disney said 'it's lucky he's such a nice guy as he could probably kill you with a thumb if he felt like it' LOL.
       Even with someone like that on the team though you can be sure the studios will bring in experts to create video reference for the animators. The 'secret' is quite boring really - it's observing the actions in real life until you understand them well enough to be able to animate them convincingly. Great example of this here BTW - [](

Well, for my part, I believe that there can never be too much focus on foundational techniques. Not just the how’s but the why’s. When I used to teach Kung-Fu, even after nearly 10 years, I still practiced my white belt basics daily, and it improved every other facet of my skill-set in that art.

         I feel this is one comment that gets where I'm coming from! People said  about master animator Milt Kahl - 'he made sophisticated use of the  basics'.. which might sound like a put down, but ultimately the basics  are all there are! Being able to apply them in a masterful way is how  you get great art, or great skill in any discipline.
        So, I guess I've rambled on long enough but hopefully some of this is useful, I appreciate everyone giving their thoughts and to be honest they confirmed what I had suspected anyway.
        I'll keep it in mind for the future if I do get inspired to do a more 'tech-style' tutorial again but really these days I'm very focused on becoming a better animator so that's what I spend most of my time thinking about, hence my enthusiasm for the idea of teaching it. 

I understand that's not what the majority are looking for though and there are a few other factors involved too, so all things considered I think I'll  give it a miss this year.

I enjoyed the lectures I gave in the last couple of years but I don’t feel excited that I have much to add to them on a technical note (plus if I give away all my rigging secrets I might starve :wink: ) and ultimately I’d rather not do it if I’m not going to give it 100%.

Thanks guys,


I 100% disagree with you on this. Unless you animate every single frame of your shot(which isn’t smart or efficient), you are doing this throughout your shot[the letting the machine do something for you]. You have interpolations between two keys. Simple as that. IK/FK is no different. If your blend considers rotation, then I would bet you’d never notice. If it’s just positionally then yes, it will look like shit. An IK FK blend is no different than two poses. When I did Animation Mentor, I used it many times in that 18 months, quite successfully.

Its just poses and interpolation between two poses, just like every other key.

Those two sentences seem to contradict each other to me. An IK/FK blend is, by it's very nature, blending between position and rotation over a few frames. So there have to be a couple of frames (depending on how long you do the blend) where you get a linear transition which is going to look mechanical unless you hide it very well. 
If this wasn't an important consideration then why do almost all decent Maya character rigs come with IK-FK pose matching scripts? For me snapping IK-FK is a much better way to hide the transition than blending over a few frames (even then it's still tricky as you have to maintain clean spacing while switching from position keys to rotation keys or vice versa). It's why I offer IK-FK snapping to my C4D clients too. [](

Each to their own, but I always think blending (particular blending an entire rig between two different animations as the person whose comment I replied to mentioned) looks 'computery'. 

As for keying on practically every frame, there are guys who work that way, particularly on really complex motion (Jason Ryan is a prime example) and it can look amazing when done with lots of control. Of course for something slow it's not efficient but there are cases where it's a good idea IMO. 

As an exercise a while back I took a shot from Despicable Me where the character does a crazy cartoony spin (a full 360 in 4 frames!) and I animated a character doing the same action using it as a reference, there was no way to match the poses really for a lot of it without keying on ones.
Here’s a look at that BTW (pass:iA)
The scarf I drew on with grease pencil, also on ones! Not saying the results are all that, but I think it was a reasonably successful test and I learned a lot doing it.



Often IK/FK Blends use essentially rotational constraints and the bone length themselves, not positions. This allows for blending from a stretched IK arm to an FK arm, and it produces a nice clean arc since it’s only using rotations(except for the shoulder obviously, but that isn’t what makes it look like crap). This produces much nicer and cleaner blending between IK and FK as needed.

IK/FK Snapping is nice and easier in a lot of the cases, I agree, but sometimes you could use a couple frames to blend because of your poses. Some things can be easier to pose in IK and others in FK, and it doesn’t look bad.

I think you missed my point. I’m very aware of the need to animate on ones. Traditional 2D animators would do the same thing. My point was if you animate every single frame of every single shot you are doing, you are foolish. Littering your shot with parts animated on ones, totally fine, and it is often necessary. What I was saying was that you don’t typically key every frame of your shot all the time, which means you let the machine interpolate between keys(even if there is only one frame cushion between the keys). And you said letting the machine handle something kills the life, which it doesn’t necessarily.


Heh, I feel we are arguing over semantics at this stage. Yes of course you don’t animate every frame all the time. But a decent animator does make very conscious decisions over where to control the interpolation and where they can leave it to the computer. I’m sure we both agree on that, I’m just trying to clarify my point.

To me when I have an IK hand in world space and I blend to the arm being FK it almost never looks right so I really prefer to snap poses rather than blend. If blending works for you then great, but it’s something I prefer to avoid. Of course doing the snapping right on the point of contact (in the case of FK to IK) can help too as then you have less spacing issues to worry about.

I repeat though - the original question I answered was about blending one entire motion between two different animations, and I believe that unless you get very lucky the transition poses are generally going to look like garbage when you do that. I would always bake something like that down to keys and fix the in-betweens in the graph editor to make them look more natural.



You have to blend no matter what it can’t simply be a snap as even a snap needs to at least blend in the subframes. Otherwise motion blur is broken. Typically a two frame blend will blur better than a single. Longer than that and I’d agree your giving a lot of chance to the computer, but at the same time all interpolation has the same risk. Switches or poorly animated snaps are the name of lighters who have to send back animations multiple times because an animator simply doesn’t get the problem.

As for when can full body blends look good, I’d point out we’ll animated games getting there, the challenge for them is they have to sacrifice the quality to maintain the interactive mess
For the player. You watch a game animators reel of animations and transitions and they can look absolutely amazing. In game they rarely look as good because if a player wants to change from run to jump to swing the game needs to make sure those actions happen like the player requested regardless of blending too soon or too fast or worst of all simply cutting off an animation.


The motionblur question is one I’ve often wondered about. I remember a topic recently where people were discussing ways around the lack of a Euler Filter command in Cinema and to get around gimbal issues one method discussed was to simply copy the flipped frame to the frame after the good one and then work on from there, trying to fix the interpolation by eye as the poses transition.
My first thought reading that was that wouldn’t that cause a motion blur pop since you are effectively having a 360 rotation over one frame, but - my 2nd thought was can you then get around issues like that (and sub frame issues with IK/FK snapping etc) by baking the geometry down to a cache and simply deleting the rig altogether once the animation is finalized? Does that then fix the MB issues ?

Regarding animation blending in games, I guess it’s getting better for sure, but yeah, I listened to a podcast fairly recently where some game animators were bemoaning the fact that what they animate rarely gets into the game 100%, by the time you factor in blending and animation compression a lot of the animation gets softened and they said that often they will have to rework an action multiple times going back and forth between the animation app and the game engine before they actually get close to what they were originally intending.



Semantics or not, if you are going to try to teach people about animation, I think you need to think about what you’re telling them. Your statement basically was that the computer kills the life of animation, don’t ever let it interpolate(blending IK/FK or not). It doesn’t kill animation, the decisions an animator makes are what kills it. You can make a very convincing animation with very few keyframes and breakdowns and a lot of computer interpolation, but if your keyframes are weak and your breakdowns poor, then so will your interpolations. That’s the animator’s fault, not the computer.


Hmm, good questions. I don’t render much, so I don’t have definite answers. I believe, yes it could have an issue when fixing the gimbal lock(that depends on what ranges you had and were working with before I think how bad it would be).

As far as baking it down, it SHOULD fix it I believe, but there could be some sort of vertex velocities stored in a cache format(talking a bit out of my ass here), and if they were stored then I think it would have MB problems. Otherwise, it could be alright.