Design Discourse – Maya Show Reel – Semester One

I have felt for the first semester that gaining the ability to work Maya has been somewhat challenging for me, between the new alien program and working in 3D for the very first time it was rather scary and daunting at times. I especially found myself comparing with those with better work which in hand through my confidence of a little,  i loved the lectures given out by Alec, Yuan and Micheal as they were enlightening as well as fun. My favorite week would have had to be the presentation given by Micheal in week 4 which included the Canadian Animators, i wish we had Micheal more for lectures for Design Discourse since his expansive knowledge and energy just made the classes more intriguing.

Overall i really liked this module despite it scaring me with the new, complex program known as Auto desk Maya…


The 12 principles Of Animation

Squash and Stretch:

“The most important principle is “squash and stretch”,the purpose of which is to give a sense of weight and flexibility to drawn objects. It can be applied to simple objects, like a bouncing ball, or more complex constructions, like the musculature of a human face. Taken to an extreme point, a figure stretched or squashed to an exaggerated degree can have a comical effect. In realistic animation, however, the most important aspect of this principle is the fact that an object’s volume does not change when squashed or stretched. If the length of a ball is stretched vertically, its width (in three dimensions, also its depth) needs to contract correspondingly horizontally.” – Wikipedia




“Anticipation is used to prepare the audience for an action, and to make the action appear more realistic. A dancer jumping off the floor has to bend his knees first; a golfer making a swing has to swing the club back first. The technique can also be used for less physical actions, such as a character looking off-screen to anticipate someone’s arrival, or attention focusing on an object that a character is about to pick up.” – Wikipedia



“This principle is akin to staging, as it is known in theater and film. Its purpose is to direct the audience’s attention, and make it clear what is of greatest importance in a scene; Johnston and Thomas defined it as “the presentation of any idea so that it is completely and unmistakably clear”, whether that idea is an action, a personality, an expression, or a mood. This can be done by various means, such as the placement of a character in the frame, the use of light and shadow, or the angle and position of the camera. The essence of this principle is keeping focus on what is relevant, and avoiding unnecessary detail.” – Wikipedia


Straight Ahead Action And Pose To Pose:
“These are two different approaches to the actual drawing process. “Straight ahead action” means drawing out a scene frame by frame from beginning to end, while “pose to pose” involves starting with drawing a few key frames, and then filling in the intervals later. “Straight ahead action” creates a more fluid, dynamic illusion of movement, and is better for producing realistic action sequences. On the other hand, it is hard to maintain proportions, and to create exact, convincing poses along the way. “Pose to pose” works better for dramatic or emotional scenes, where composition and relation to the surroundings are of greater importance. A combination of the two techniques is often used.

Computer animation removes the problems of proportion related to “straight ahead action” drawing; however, “pose to pose” is still used for computer animation, because of the advantages it brings in composition. The use of computers facilitates this method, and can fill in the missing sequences in between poses automatically. It is, however, still important to oversee this process and apply the other principles discussed.” – Wikipedia 


Follow Through and Overlapping Action:

“Follow through and overlapping action is a general heading for two closely related techniques which help to render movement more realistically, and help to give the impression that characters follow the laws of physics, including the principle of inertia. “Follow through” means that loosely tied parts of a body should continue moving after the character has stopped and the parts should keep moving beyond the point where the character stopped to be “pulled back” only subsequently towards the center of mass and/or exhibiting various degrees of oscillation damping. “Overlapping action” is the tendency for parts of the body to move at different rates (an arm will move on different timing of the head and so on). A third, related technique is “drag”, where a character starts to move and parts of him take a few frames to catch up. These parts can be inanimate objects like clothing or the antenna on a car, or parts of the body, such as arms or hair. On the human body, the torso is the core, with arms, legs, head and hair appendices that normally follow the torso’s movement. Body parts with much tissue, such as large stomachs and breasts, or the loose skin on a dog, are more prone to independent movement than bonier body parts. Again, exaggerated use of the technique can produce a comical effect, while more realistic animation must time the actions exactly, to produce a convincing result.

The “moving hold” animates between similar key frames, even characters sitting still can display some sort of movement, such as the torso moving in and out with breathing.” –Wikipedia


Slow In and Slow Out:

“The movement of the human body, and most other objects, needs time to accelerate and slow down. For this reason, animation looks more realistic if it has more drawings near the beginning and end of an action, emphasizing the extreme poses, and fewer in the middle. This principle goes for characters moving between two extreme poses, such as sitting down and standing up, but also for inanimate, moving objects, like the bouncing ball in the above illustration.” – Wikipedia 



“Most natural action tends to follow an arched trajectory, and animation should adhere to this principle by following implied “arcs” for greater realism. This technique can be applied to a moving limb by rotating a joint, or a thrown object moving along a parabolic trajectory. The exception is mechanical movement, which typically moves in straight lines.

As an object’s speed or momentum increases, arcs tend to flatten out in moving ahead and broaden in turns. In baseball, a fastball would tend to move in a straighter line than other pitches; while a figure skater moving at top speed would be unable to turn as sharply as a slower skater, and would need to cover more ground to complete the turn.

An object in motion that moves out of its natural arc for no apparent reason will appear erratic rather than fluid. For example, when animating a pointing finger, the animator should be certain that in all drawings in between the two extreme poses, the fingertip follows a logical arc from one extreme to the next. Traditional animators tend to draw the arc in lightly on the paper for reference, to be erased later.” – Wikipedia 


Secondary Action:

“Adding secondary actions to the main action gives a scene more life, and can help to support the main action. A person walking can simultaneously swing his arms or keep them in his pockets, speak or whistle, or express emotions through facial expressions. The important thing about secondary actions is that they emphasize, rather than take attention away from, the main action. If the latter is the case, those actions are better left out. For example, during a dramatic movement, facial expressions will often go unnoticed. In these cases it is better to include them at the beginning and the end of the movement, rather than during.” – Wikipedia



“Timing refers to the number of drawings or frames for a given action, which translates to the speed of the action on film. On a purely physical level, correct timing makes objects appear to obey the laws of physics; for instance, an object’s weight determines how it reacts to an impetus, like a push. Timing is critical for establishing a character’s mood, emotion, and reaction. It can also be a device to communicate aspects of a character’s personality.” – Wikipedia 



“Exaggeration is an effect especially useful for animation, as perfect imitation of reality can look static and dull in cartoons. The level of exaggeration depends on whether one seeks realism or a particular style, like a caricature or the style of a specific artist. The classical definition of exaggeration, employed by Disney, was to remain true to reality, just presenting it in a wilder, more extreme form. Other forms of exaggeration can involve the supernatural or surreal, alterations in the physical features of a character; or elements in the story line itself. It is important to employ a certain level of restraint when using exaggeration. If a scene contains several elements, there should be a balance in how those elements are exaggerated in relation to each other, to avoid confusing or overawing the viewer.” – Wikipedia 


Solid drawing:

“The principle of solid drawing means taking into account forms in three-dimensional space, or giving them volume and weight. The animator needs to be a skilled fraught man and has to understand the basics of three-dimensional shapes, anatomy, weight, balance, light and shadow, etc. For the classical animator, this involved taking art classes and doing sketches from life. One thing in particular that Johnston and Thomas warned against was creating “twins”: characters whose left and right sides mirrored each other, and looked lifeless. Modern-day computer animators draw less because of the facilities computers give them, yet their work benefits greatly from a basic understanding of animation principles, and their additions to basic computer animation.” – Wikipedia 



“Appeal in a cartoon character corresponds to what would be called charisma in an actor. A character who is appealing is not necessarily sympathetic – villains or monsters can also be appealing – the important thing is that the viewer feels the character is real and interesting. There are several tricks for making a character connect better with the audience; for likable characters a symmetrical or particularly baby-like face tends to be effective. A complicated or hard to read face will lack appeal, it may more accurately be described as ‘captivation’ in the composition of the pose, or the character design.” – Wikipedia 



Design Discourse – Pixar Animation Presentation with Helen Haswell

Helen Haswell has given us us a presentation on American animation, mainly the mainstream animation companies such as Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks and Blue Sky Studios.

Walt Disneys studio entertainments include:

Walt Disney Animation Studios – 1923 

Walt Disney Motion Pictures – 1950

Disney Music Group – 1956

Lucasfilm 1972 (2012)

Touchstone Pictures 1984 

Pixar Animation Studios 1986 (2006)

Disney Theatrical Group 1993

Marvel Studios 1996 (2009)

Disneynature 2008

Alice in Wonderland – 1923:

The Disney brother cartoon studio was established in 1923 and was the year Alice in wonderland was created, there was a short created of Alice wanting to watch some “funnies” being created which then showed a cat and dog fighting over a kennel then as she looked around the studio it was apparent that the art was alive, full of Disney’s creations. Later that night Alice was going to bed and dreamed she was being welcomed to a “wonderland” of Disney’s cartoon characters, she danced and celebrated with the animals until imprisoned lions had escaped chasing the towns people away. She fought and raved with the lions until she had no choice but to jump of a cliff edge to escape the never ending chase.

This series ran from 1923 to 1927 until the show ended, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was founded in the year 1927 which would be the leading inspiration of Micky Mouse in the next year when the iconic short “Steamboat Willie” (1928)

Steamboat Willie – 1928:

Helen began to tell us how the film was describe as plasmatic, which is describe as how the animation is manipulated which gave Disney a more authentic feel compared to other animation companies back in the 1920’s

The Classic Era – 1937 – 1988:

  • Snow White (1937)
  • Pinocchio (1940)
  • Fantasia (1940
  • Dumbo (1941)
  • Bambi (1942)
  • Saludos Amigos (1943)
  • The Three Caballeros (1944)
  • Make Mine Music (1946)
  • Fun And Fancy Free (1947)

2D Cell Animation Process: How Walt Disney Cartoons Are Made (1938):

“Lots of pretty girls” seems that Disney only hires pretty women to work for Walt back in the day… heh.

Renaissance Era (1989 – 1999):

  • The Little Mermaid (1989)
  • The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
  • Beauty And The Beast (1991)
  • Aladdin (1992)
  • The Lion King (1994)
  • Pocahontas (1995)
  • The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996)
  • Hercules (1997)
  • Mulan (1998)
  • Tarzan (199)

Beauty And The Beast CGI Background With Hand Drawn Figures:

In the iconic scene when belle and Beast have their first dance in the ball room, it can be seen that the background is made from CGI, i never thought on this for its time, it was amazingly blended together but now that it has been brought up you can see the camera pans as the drawn figures are applied into the scene! Amazing!

This process was also used in Mulan and was the starting point toward digital animation.

Neo-Disney Period (1999 – 2004):

  • Fantasia 2000 (1999)
  • The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
  • Lilo And Stitch (2002)
  • Treasure Planet (2002)
  • Brother Bear (2003)
  • Home On The Range (2004)

This has been described as a negative time for Disney as they did not make as much profit from these movies.

Digital Disney Period (2005 – 2007):

  • Chicken Little (2005)
  • Meet The Robinsons (2007)

No, just no….!

Post Pixar Disney (2008 – ):

  • Bolt (2008)
  • The Princess And The Frog (2009)
  • Tangled (2010)
  • Wreck It Ralph (2011)
  • Frozen (2013)
  • Big Hero 6 (2014)

The Disney Princess Franchise:

  • Snow White (1937)
  • Cinderalla (1950)
  • Sleeping Beauty (1958)
  • The little Mermaid (1989)
  • Beauty And The Beast (1991)
  • Aladdin (1992)
  • Pocahontas (1995)
  • Mulan (1998)
  • The Princess and the frog (2009)
  • tangled (2010)
  • Brave (2012)
  • Frozen (2013)

Pixar Animation Studios Filmography:

  • Toy Story (1995)
  • A Bugs Life (1998)
  • Toy Story 2 (1999)
  • Monsters Inc (2001)
  • Finding Nemo (2003)
  • The Incredibles (2004)
  • Cars (2006)
  • Ratatouille (2007)
  • Wall-E (2008)
  • Up (2009)
  • Toy Story 3 (2010)
  • Cars 2 (2011)
  • Brave (2012)
  •  Monsters University (2013)

Tin Toy – 1988:

I don’t know how this made me feel, i was terrified for the most part by how scary the baby looked…. Toy Story was defiantly a better improvement.

I really enjoyed Helens presentation as it was very insightful into Disney and Pixars different animation studios, my favorite would had to be the process of the CGI and hand drawn figures of Beauty and The Beast as it was crafted beautifully for its time!

Design Discourse 1 – Asian Animation

Chinese Animation-

“Long before the fifth generation film stunned the international film world;”

“school”: A group of Artist that share the same goal of that of a particular leader.”

Wan Laiming- 

Havoc In Heaven – 1961 -1964 (84 Minutes) 

-Adapted from the novel Journey To The West

This was a traditional piece of animation and shows a strong sense of Asian culture.

Golden Era – 1957 – 1977 

Te Wei- 

Where Is Momma? – 1960 

-Based on the narrative to teach children the knowledge they need in life

-Very Monochromatic

Cowboys Flute – 1963 – (20 Minutes)

You can notice that in this time period that Te Wei’s animation and drawing style has started to mature and evolve into a more colorful, fluent style.

Modern Chinese Animation 

Chinese animation began to show more of a narrative to its modern subject and involving more wider topics.

Studios covered wide topics such as Anti-war, love, depression, human sanity. Some of these studios we know of are…

  • Studio Ghibli

Founded in 1985 and has produced 20 feature films to date but were mainly produced by Miyazaki (Born 1941) and Takahata (Born 1935).

One of my favorite pieces from Ghibli Studios would be the Grave Of The Fireflies, an anti-war Film that was not short on showing the reality of what happens to the innocent victims of war, children.

This led us to discuss the main characteristics that are shown within Asian animation:

  • Death
  • Monsters
  • Violence
  • Machinery 
  • Love
  • Mythology 

Design Discourse 1 – Canadian Animators Presentation With Mike

Canadian Animation from 1939 to present day:

-National Film Board Of Canada

Artists that stood out for me during the presentation

Norman Maclaren – 1914 ~ 1987 

“Known to animate on film using techniques such as scorching, scratching and painting.”

Boogie Doodle – 1941 

  • One of the most rewarded Canadian animators of his time

An experimental piece that creates a rhythmic, brightly colored film!

Neighbors – 1952 

  • An anti-war film

“Uses a film technique called pixilation, an animation technique using live actors as stop-motion objects. McLaren created the soundtrack of the film by scratching the edge of the film, creating various blobs, lines, and triangles which the projector read as sound.” – Wiki

Jeff Hale 1923 – 2015 

The Great Toy Robbery:

A very controversial piece and frankly i could not understand due to the speed of the voices, only thing that made me laugh was the sheer surprise from what some characters had said!

Thank You Masked Man – 1915

Similar style to the masked man although this cartoon is more light on the comedy and not so controversial.

Ryan Larkin – 1943 – 2007

Walking – 1968 

  • Employs a variety of techniques such as line drawing, color wash and was intended to capture the spring full steps of youth in contract to the tired treads of the elder.

Caroline Leaf – 1946 – Present

The Street – 1976

  • Oil painting on glass which was risky yet a unpredictable animation as everything was so free and fluent.

-I felt lucky to have been informed of these Artists, especially the likes of Ryan Larkin and Norman Maclaren as different their styles may be i feel i can take inspiration from their work in animation and both drawing, i love how free and fluent their pieces are!-

Design Discourse 1 – Essay


(Yuanyuan discussing the essay stages)

Today Yuanyuan gave us a presentation on how we should start our research into our essay topics then started to show us some historical Artists,

Walter Ruttmann – “After the war, that it made no sense to paint anymore, unless painting could be set in motion.”

We were shown one of his pieces called Lightplay Opus 1 which was released in spring 1921

Which brought us to the movement of Dynamism, a movement that captures all the dynamic movements in one frame to speak,

In the 20th century, cinema was ignored by a lot of people including those at universities and art colleges

Cinema had offered that motion that Walter Ruttmann was looking for, he sees music as a paternally movement form for his cinematic pieces.

Eggeling Trid was also mentioned on how he discovered which expressions would and could take form under the various influences of “opposites” such as, little against big, light against dark and so fourth~

Here is one of his cinematic pieces called, Diagonale Symphonie

Hans Richter was a German cubist painter that experimented with various pans and zooms with shapes to create a poetic piece called Rhythm – 21 which was released in 1921

Len Lye was considered to be the first to create an animated film with his piece Trade Tattoo on which he stenciled abstract patterns onto documentary footage that was discard by film makers~

-I find Yuanyuan absolutely lovely, she is awesome and easy to warm up too, i cant wait to have more lectures from her!-

Design Discourse One – Briefing Talk


Today Alec gave us a talk and break down of the Design Discourse One Briefing, we will be introduced to the key historical and contemporary movements theoretical frameworks and research methodologies associated with design for interaction and animation.

Also mentioned that we will develop research, writing and presentation skills whilst learning the relationship between practice and theory, i’m so excited to get the chance to learn how to use the various software’s such as Maya, it will be hard although that’s why i’m here in University of Ulster, to learn.

Here is a overview of the brief although it was mentioned it subject to change in the following weeks~

Week 1 – Induction

Week 2 – Intro to module & library introduction

Week 3 – History & Theory: Pioneers and Absolute Animation in Europe / Academic Writing Skill 1

Week 4 – History & Theory: Animation in Canada (Mike) / Academic Writing Skill 2

Week 5 – History & Theory: Animation in Asia / Academic Writing Skill 3

Week 6 – Disney and Pixar Animation – Guest Lecture coming in

Week 7 – Maya basics – Assignment: Animation Principles | Draft of essays

Week 8 – Animation Principles – Squash & Stretch. Pose to pose vs straight ahead, timing

Week 9 – Animation Principles – Ease in/out, anticipation, arcs, appeal

Week 10 – Animation Principles – Follow-through & overlapping ac;on, secondary ac;on, exaggeration

Week 11 – Animation Principles – Feedback session

Week 12 – Presentation: Anima;on Principles work



Animation Principles

– I personally cant wait for what is in store for this module, i hope to learn a lot from Alec and Yuanyuan. –