Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Cycles - Research

In animation, cycles tend to be associated mostly with walk and run-cycles, but they are used for other movements as well. A cycle is a certain movement that is repeated many times, with the last image looping back to the first, to give the impression of a continuous movement. The repeat pattern can be linear, i.e 1-2-3-1-2-3, etc, or reversed, i.e 1-2-3-2-1, etc. The use of cycles is very important in "limited animation," which is animation that makes use of various stylised elements to lower production time and cost, in comparison with more keyframe-heavy animation (for example Walt Disney's short cartoons from the 1930s and 40s) The reduced number of inbetweens means the animators have less to draw. Overall, use of cycles and other limited animation techniques reduces cost and time to create what can still be seen as high-quality animation.

Below is an example of some character movement cycles, taken from "Animation 1: Learn to Animate Cartoons Step by Step (Cartooning, Book 1)" by Preston J. Blair:

Use of cycles, amongst other time-saving techniques of limited animation, does not necessarily reduce the overall quality of the finished animation. Aesthetically, it merely adds a different stylised element to an animation than there would be with a more time consuming approach.

Take the below video for example, a Max Fleischer Popeye cartoon from the 1930s - a lot of use of animation cycles can be seen in this (for example the snoring scenes at the beginning, the sleepwalking movement and various elements from the fighting scene) But the quality of animation is still high and it is still entertaining and interesting to watch:

Further examples of use of cycles, this time in a more modern animation:


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