Anticipation In Animation

Anticipation In Animation – The Second Principle

Table of Contents

Have you ever seen an animation, “that seemed too mechanical?” It’s probably because one of the 12 principles of animation called Anticipation was missing in it!

Is it something new to you? Anticipation in animation is a method that makes animated character’s movements appear more natural. It provides the impression that your character is reacting to his surroundings and prodding himself toward his next course of action.

In this article, we have highlighted everything about anticipation and why the professionals need this in their animations. So, let’s start!

What is Anticipation?

The second principle discussed after squash and stretch is anticipation, one of the 12 principles of animation that Walt Disney and his associates found and compiled. The Oxford Dictionary defines anticipation as an expectation that something is about to occur.

In contrast, anticipation was designed to serve as a signal to the audience to get ready for the next movement, even before that movement is made, according to Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston in “The Illusion of Life(where the 12 principles were initially summarized).

You help you better understand; here’s an example.

Image source: animost

Thus, anticipation is a constant sense that something “new” is going to happen. You need to keep watching to find out what that is. However, animators frequently overlook the thrill because they are too preoccupied with character development, timing, animating, etc. If the anticipation animation principle is not applied, an object may move in an unnatural manner that may look awkward to the audience.

Related: Staging: Third Principle of Animation

Why Do Animators Need Anticipation?

Animation professionals don’t come up with the idea of anticipation. It is a factor that animators sum up by looking at real-world movements.

The object in question will move anticipatorily as a preliminary action before moving at all (often quick or decisive movements). The anticipation phase serves to reserve energy to promote movement.

Think of the action as the anticipation of a spring being compressed before it bounces up and stretches. The spring is squeezed in order to make its bounce appear to be more realistic and smoother to the audience.

Image source: tomandjerry.fandom

Guess what next Tom will do with mischievous Jerry?

The “soul,” the life of the character, and the movement may all be added to an animation by using the anticipation principle. This results in an entirely created movement that is appealing, eye-catching, and occasionally magnified.

The first principles, squash, and stretch, can frequently be paired with anticipation to make objects move.

However, anticipation serves to enhance movement interest instead of undermining the movement’s “surprise” in any way. It might be viewed as an approach to increasing the suspense (for the impending action). Because of this, viewers of the animation will focus more on the action and not miss it.

When NOT to Use Anticipation?

Are there any cases where anticipation should NOT be used? Of course! If you are animating something that is reacting to outside factors, there is no need for animation anticipation.

Any object without a character is unable to anticipate anything. A glass falling over or hair blowing in the wind are two examples of this. These things aren’t driven by their own will; thus, they are unable to predict an outside influence.

Related: Straight Ahead and Pose-to-Pose Principle

Way To Master Anticipation

Physics-wise, anticipation may explain how energy is gathered and stored before beginning a new physical activity. Ensuring the timing, velocity, and breadth of the anticipation position work in harmony with the next movement is a crucial skill to learn. Similar to a math problem, the principle of anticipation and the subsequent action must add up for it to appear plausible.

While this mistake can occur anywhere, superhero animation is a frequent incident. The directive to “make it faster” is frequently used to make a superhero appear to be superhuman. This is fine on its own. Where it fails is when the energy built up in anticipation is inadequate to support the next faster-than-possible movement. The anticipation is either small or short. If there is a proper expectation before completing the covert work of selling it, a superhuman move is simpler to accept.

A Quick Tip

Everyone knows it is difficult to be objective when creating animation. We become accustomed to it after repeatedly seeing it thousands of times, so it’s usually known what will happen. The eye no longer requires assistance from anticipation animation. As a result, it is hard to detect when something is left out.

How can this be stopped? Playing your animation backward is one trick. What was once an anticipation is now somewhat acting on a “follow-through” basis.

An example can be the footfall on a dinosaur walk cycle. The compression of this walking animation on the foot before it lifts off will appear as an overlapping movement once the footfalls if we observe it backward. If it appears rigid because it is missing, we have a hint that the absence of expectation may be the culprit.

Unintended Anticipation

A type of unwanted anticipation is the last thing to be on the lookout for. This typically occurs when an object begins to move before it should, such as when a head begins to turn back before being punched.

Instead of making sure you have enough breaks so that the head does not spin until the punch has actually landed, the problem usually arises from placing keys for the head and the punch on the same frames. Keep in mind that the anticipation principle highly depends on frame-by-frame animation.

Final Words!

Anticipation is a simple concept that can improve the impact and interest of your animations. Although you won’t utilize it every time you animate, it can help give your characters life and enhance your cartoons when it’s appropriate.

Therefore, it’s essential to learn, comprehend, and apply this principle in your animation compositions if you’re seeking to create suspense in your animations. This is an incredible approach to excite and captivate your audience with your content!

Furthermore, you can also approach a top-notch animation studio to create amazing animations using the 12 crucial principles.

Need help getting started?

Talk to a video strategist!

Let's Go
Aleena Gill

Aleena Gill

Aleena Gill is a copywriter and content specialist with years of experience in the digital industry. She has a knack for blending creativity with strategic insight that leads businesses of all sizes and niches, particularly animation and tech, to success. Her persuasive and impactful content not just informs, but engages, resonates, and drives results.