Confusing principles

March 12, 2010

Alot of new animators often get confused between the meaning of Overlap, Follow-through and Secondary Action. They might sound similar, but they mean different things.
I’ll try to clear this up a bit.

Overlap – Usually used to describe movements motivated by a external source. Example: flag flapping in the wind, feather bobbing on a hat, wrists overlap as the character goes into a point, chest overlaps as a character stands up from a bended position.

The important thing to note here is that none of the above motions is the main movement, and they occur before the main motion finishes, hence – overlap.

Follow-through – This occurs when a motion reach it’s intended position, and then overshoots due to inertia or other forces. Example: A Boxer punching another, upon impact, follows-through the action and continues the swing.

If this sounds similar to ease in/ease out, it is. They’re connected and is often used together just as how Stretch and Squash are also used as a way of doing overlaps and follow-through.

Secondary Actions – When you scratch your nose while talking to someone, the nose scratching is a secondary action. Secondary because it’s not the main action you’re pursuing at the moment (talking is).

This is the crux of good acting, through secondary actions we can see the character’s thought process and personality. A girl nervously twirls her hair as she talks to her teacher, a boss talks to his subordinates while tapping impatiently on his feet.

Hopefully that isn’t too confusing, if I’m not feeling lazy I’ll probably post up some video examples in the coming days. (Edit: I’m feeling lazy)

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