Here are few free tutorials designed to guide the animation
Keys and Inbetweens 1: Traditional 2D animation is made up of two
essential elements... "keys" and "inbetweens". Other terms are used to
define the breaking down of animated action for other forms of animation
too… such as in 3D, Web, etc. which we'll deal with later. Nevertheless,
all animation… from the finest of computerized digital masterworks down
to the most basic paper and pencil scribblings… are ultimately a
manipulation of these two single elements, through established, time-
honored principles. The greater, "master" character animators from the
past, as well as some that are still amongst us, have simply developed
or acquired a greater collection of such "manipulations" (i.e. animation
principles) to quite literally draw upon. Therefore, even a most basic
application of the principles between these two elements, keys and
inbetweens, will result in the creation of competent movement and an
acceptable level of animation.
Keys & Inbetweens 2: Occasionally, there are animated sequences that
will break the "keys" and "inbetween" two element rule. For example,
"straight ahead" animation is where there are no keys but the animator
creates a "drawing one" then moves on to drawing "two", drawing
"three", drawing "four", etc… successively adding a slight change of
movement each time until an entire moving sequence is built up.
Alternatively, a sequence of movement might involve additional indirect
elements such as "extreme" drawings, which essentially define the
extent of a moment within two key positions but are not necessarily
linked to either.
A perfect example of "straight ahead" animation is where
the fingers of a hand tap impatiently on a desk. It is
virtually impossible to "key" and "inbetween" such an
action, therefore it needing to be animated frame-by-frame
(i.e. using a "straight ahead" technique).
However, for the purposes of this brief course, and purely in the
interests of simplicity, I am choosing to narrow our vision down to the
essential elements of "keys" and "inbetweens" for the time being. That
point established, a comprehensive appreciation and thorough
understanding of these two basic elements... in addition to a knowledge
of the additional principles that are possible within the interaction of such
keys and inbetweens... will more than equip the aspiring young animator
with the potential of "mastership" (that is, given time, practice and a
(Note: 3D animation of course is not approached in quite the same way
as traditional 2D animation. However, a thorough understanding of the
principles of the one will certainly go a long way to an enhancement of
the performance and accomplishment of the other.)
Keys & Inbetweens 3.: Simply stated, a "key" is a drawing that defines
the beginning or the end of an action. An "inbetween" is a drawing that
is created between two other drawings... whether these drawings are
keys or other inbetweens. Consider for example, a ball rolling from A to
C. The two key drawings in this case are "A" and "C".
Therefore an accurate inbetween (set precisely in the middle) of "A" to
"C" is "B".
In terms of actual animation, this action would be impossibly and
unrealistically fast (actually "one-eighth of a second" only... if viewed at
24fps) with each drawing being shot for one frame of film each. (This is
known as animation on "1s"). Therefore, to slow this action down, the
animator will need to add extra inbetweens... say for example, two
more... as well as maybe shooting each drawing for two frames of film
each. (Known as animating on "2s".) Therefore, in the case of our rolling
ball, the typical key drawings would be "1" and "9" and the required
inbetween drawings would be "3", "5" and "7".
Note: When animating on 2's the animation numbering will always reflect
the accurate frame numbers wherever possible… i.e. "1", "3", "5", "7",
"9", etc., rather than "1", "2", "3", "4", "5" etc. when animating on 1's.
Keys & Inbetweens 4.: In a large professional studio, it is the assistant
who almost exclusively produces most of the inbetweening (unless the
animator chooses to draw their own inbetweens for reasons best known
to themselves, or else a production budget cannot handle an extra
salary). It is therefore essential that the professional assistant animator
be extremely fast and accurate in creating what the animator has
requested (yes, even under pressure… which is more norm than not).
Bad inbetweening can destroy the animator's work and turn a potentially
excellent piece of smooth animation into a jerky, staccato movement,
irritating to the eye. Sloppy inbetweening will invariably have to be
redone in most circumstances... which, of course, will both cost the
animator and assistant further time and effort in correcting things and
also the studio that employs them additional money.
Most commercial companies cannot absorb such avoidable "overages".
Therefore, in this competitive day and age, the sloppy assistant will
rarely be tolerated for long and the studio will consequently move on to
hire someone who can professionally cut it. Even with independent and
student based work, the fundamental requirement of inbetweening must
be ACCURACY. Without it the movement and timing will not be as
intended and therefore to the detriment of the overall project.
Charts and Breakdown Drawings: To make sure that the animator's
wishes are adhered to accurately by the assistant there has to be a clear
system of rapport and communication between them both. It is clearly
not desirable, nor even possible in many situations, for the animator to
verbally communicate his wishes to the assistant on a key-by-key basis.
Therefore, to help the assistant understanding the intention, an animator
will draw a "chart" on the first of two key drawings to illustrate where the
inbetween placements are to be. This chart will usually be drawn on the
first key drawing of two keys. Therefore, in the earlier example of the
rolling ball, the chart below will be drafted onto key "1". This chart
indicates that the animator first wants an inbetween "(5)" to be placed
between keys "1" and "9" and then two further inbetweens be added...
"3" between "1" and "(5)" and "7" between "(5)" and "9". This will give
three evenly spaced inbetween drawings between the two keys.
Note that drawing "(5)" is indicated in
parentheses. This is because it indicates the
first inbetween the animator requires the
assistant to do "I" and "9 ". Because of its
special significance, this inbetween drawing is
actually referred to as the "breakdown"
drawing. Key drawings are always charted as
Studying the chart further, we can deduce that when the breakdown
"(5)" drawing is completed, the assistant must then put in the two other
inbetween drawings... "3" in the middle of "1" and "(5)", then "7" in the
middle of "(5)" and "9". There can of course be more (or less)
inbetweens between two key drawings but it is the animator's chart on
the lead key drawing that defines just what the animator requires the
assistant to do. In principle, the animator will rarely leave more than one
or two inbetweens for the assistant to do between drawings, except on
very slow actions requiring a large number of very close inbetweens.
Additionally, the animator will invariably do the breakdown drawing
themselves, for the very reason that it is often a "distorted" inbetween...
i.e. not directly in the middle but biased to one side of the other... or else
with a subtle change of direction within some part of the normal
movement, to create an specific action or timing effect. If the same ball
rolling action was animated on ones, on say an arc for example, then
the chart and work appropriation might look like this.
When all the inbetween drawings are finished, the assistant shoots the
completed scene... either by recording digitally or else by using a
traditional videotape pencil test camera... whereupon the animator will
view it to check out the inbetweening and action.
Slowing In and Slowing Out: It is very rare that an animator will want
to have evenly placed inbetween drawings between two keys. Nothing in
life, except maybe machines, moves at a consistent, even speed and
animation that moves well will have to reflect this fact. Most action
involves a movement either slowing down or speeding up. Check it out...
observe people moving and doing things and you will see this is true.
Therefore, to achieve this naturalness of movement, an animator will
draw a chart differently from key to key. Ever aware of the enduring
principle that the more drawings there are between two keys the slower it
will be... and the less drawings there are the faster is it... an animator
will devise a chart that arranges inbetweens in a way that the action will
either slow down, or speed up. Therefore, if the animator wants an
action to slow down at the end, their chart will indicate that there are
more inbetweens towards the end of the action than at the beginning....
This setup is known as a "slow-in", because there are more drawings
and the end of the action, causing it to slow into the final key position.
Note that the breakdown drawing is number "(3)" in this chart, due to the
parenthesis around it. If, on the other hand, the animator places most of
the inbetweens at the beginning of the movement, emphasizing a
speeding up of the action as it moves, then this is known as "slow out".
Note too that on this chart the breakdown drawing has changed to
Occasionally, with longer and larger movements, the animator may
require that the action speed up, then slow down, between the two keys.
This is known as a "slowing-out/slowing-in" movement. In such a case
and depending on the nature of what the action is, the animator would
probably draw the breakdown drawing, in addition to the two key
drawings, simply to remove the heavy inbetweening burden from the
assistant, if the action is complex.
Remember that the key drawings are always circled, and the breakdown
drawing is always indicated in parentheses.
Key Points: Assistant animators invariably encounter inbetweening
problems that are far more difficult than our previous example of a rolling
ball! To accommodate this there are several means by which dissimilar
shapes can be inbetweened quite accurately, removing much of the
guesswork. The use of "key points" is one such means. For example, let
us consider one shape "T" turning into another "T" using even
The chart will read as such....
Following the requirements of this charting, the assistant will first
visualize, then mark, a series of key points that link the most identifiable,
common aspects of the two shapes. In this example, they would lightly
mark the midpoints of the corner positions clearly visible in each key,
lightly with a blue pencil.
Having accurately indicated the key points for the breakdown drawing,
the assistant then will join those key points with a smooth, natural line,
matching the line quality of the key drawings. Once the breakdown
drawing "(5)" is completed, the other two inbetweens are created using
an identical approach... where inbetween "3" is created between "1" and
"(5)" and inbetween "7" is created between "(5)" and "9". Shot as
separate drawings on 2s (one drawing for two frames) the first shape of
"T" will instantly and accurately animate into the second "T" shape.
In 3D animation terms, this action of one shape turning into another is
known as a "morph".
Superimposition: Now, taking the "morphing" concept one stage
further… if the same shape is changing and moving across the screen
at the same time, it raises further problems for the assistant. For
example, the letter "A" animates to the letter "Z" in even inbetweens…
With this example the corner key points will obviously not be located as
accurately as before, therefore another trick of the trade has to be
learned. This will require an even greater degree of visual judgment by
the assistant but it will make life all the much easier once it is
appreciated. With this example, we must imagine the first key drawing
"1" and the second key drawing "9" are on separate sheets of paper,
directly on top of each other on the registration peg bar. A third sheet of
blank paper is placed above them both... this will be our breakdown
drawing "(5)". First, the accurate center points of the shapes on the two
key drawings are marked lightly. Then, turning the lightbox on to allow
us to see through the three sheets of paper at once, the center key point
of the breakdown drawing "(5)" is marked at a precise midway position
between the two on the top sheet of paper. (Note: The line linking the
center points between two keys, upon which the center point of the
breakdown drawing is located, is call a "path of action".)
Having established the four key points on the breakdown level, the
animator then removes the top two drawings from the peg bar. These
two top sheets are then "superimposed" over one another on the
lightbox until the three center markings are accurately lined up, one
above the other. The top two sheets of paper are then lightly taped down
with masking tape, outside of the drawing area... the assistant taking
care that they remain aligned until the taping is complete. (Note: Whilst
doing this, the assistant must also make sure that all three drawings
remain perfectly square to one another as, if one sheet slips or rotates
in any one direction, a slide or "twitch" will appear in the final action,
making the inbetweens unusable.)
Once all three drawings have been accurately secured as above, the
breakdown drawing can be completed as in the previous "key points"
exercise. When the breakdown "(5)" drawing is completed, the two top
sheets can then be un-taped again and placed back onto the registration
pegs where a quick visual "flip" check can be made for any possible
error. However, if the assistant has done his job well, the breakdown
drawing should be perfectly inbetweened and the remaining two
inbetweens may be created similarly.
More often than not however, it is not possible to use an identifiable
center mark as our point of reference when creating in a breakdown
point between two key drawings. In this case, the assistant must use
even more enhanced visual judgment to assess where this point, and
shape, might be. For example, if a balloon animates into an irregular
shape, such as a hand, the assistant will have to use their best judgment
in estimating the approximate breakdown position between the two key
shapes. It may be possible to estimate a center position at the same
time but, usually, it is only really possible to rough estimate an
approximate shape and position between the two keys and lightly sketch
it in with a blue pencil...
However, having made this initial assessment (and hopefully central to
the two key positions) the assistant again superimposes the top two
drawings over the third in a way where they are accurately over one
another as possible. These positioned sheets can then be taped down
as before and the more accurate breakdown drawing be completed.
Once the assistant has returned the drawings back onto the peg bar for
a flip test and confirmed that the breakdown drawing is accurate, the
remaining inbetweens can be similarly completed.
Flipping: One of the finest skills an animator or assistant can learn is
"flipping'. Flipping is a method of getting the feel of how a moving
sequence is going by simple flipping a number of drawings in sequence,
one after the other... just in the same way the flip books we all owned,
or created, as kids created magical movement. However, unless
somehow we fix a huge pile of large animation drawings together, the
maximum numbers of drawings that can be flipped on a peg bar at once
are five. (That being the number of digits we have to work with on a
human hand.) There are three kinds of flipping possible.... "bottom pegs"
flipping, "top pegs" flipping and "whole scene" flipping.
Bottom pegs flipping is probably the easiest of all the three. An animator
or assistant will place five consecutive animation drawings on the peg
bar... lowest number on the top and highest number on the bottom...then
interleave their fingers between the top four sheets. It is then just a
process of coordinating the finger movements to enable the drawings to
fleetingly and consecutively pass the field of vision, top to bottom and
back again. The free hand will probably be required to hold the drawings
securely on the pegs as the sheets are flipped.
Although I personally prefer to animate using the top pegs approach, this
way of animating does definitely make flipping harder. It takes more
patience and finger/eye coordination to flip a collection of five top peg
drawings at once... but the effort is well and truly worth it, once it's
mastered. With the drawings being on top pegs, it is impossible to use
one hand alone to interleave between the drawings. Therefore two
hands have to be used. This is done by having the index finger and
thumb of the left hand to hold the second from the top animation
drawing, and the next two fingers of the same hand to hold the top
sheet. The right hand performs similarly, gripping the fourth and third
animation drawing respectively. The hard part is learning to coordinate
the relevant finger movements to create a sequential flipping motion with
the drawings. It is hard, and will take trial an error. But it can be done
and patience will be rewarded ultimately.
Incidentally, as there is no free hand to hold the animation drawings
securely on the peg bar with this method, there is a danger of them
flying off the pegs as the flipping is attempted. To remedy this, a large
rubber band can be stretched over the peg bar, on top of the drawings,
to create the required stability.
The final system of flipping is whole scene flipping. As it's title implies,
whole scene flipping can only be attempted when the complete scene of
animation is complete...or at least a significant amount of it is. The
drawings are shuffled together in numerical order, the lowest number on
the bottom and the highest number on top. The animator or assistant
animator holds the drawings up to about eye level with one hand and
proceeds to flip the drawings, one by one, with the thumb of the other.
The gravity effect causes each individual drawing to fall, one after the
other, as long as the pile of drawings are held slightly above a parallel to
the ground. Again, a little practice will be required to affect this system
smoothly but, once mastered, it is possible to assess the flow and action
of the animated scene before the more time consuming process of
shooting a pencil test is attempted.
I believe that it's not possible for a true animator to hold their head up
high without first acquiring the facility of flipping. Flipping is such an
"organic" process to the art of movement that it should be worked at and
mastered if it's benefits are to be fully realized. Often, in a professional
setting, it is quite common for animators to be seen wandering around
the studio, flipping their latest scenes at one another. In all seriousness,
there is no better way of assessing the general feel of your animation
flow than by flipping, However, not being mechanically consistent in
terms of flipping speed, it can only be when a scene is formally shot and
the playback seen at regulation speed that the precise timing of an
action can be fully assessed.
Head Turns: It cannot be emphasized enough... everything that moves
in life, moves in arcs, never in straight lines. The animator must always
be conscious of this fact when considering any new action and needs to
underline this point to the assistant also. It is by using arcs, however
subtle they may be, that your animation will take on a greater sense of
reality and naturalness. By way of explanation, let us consider these two
key drawings of a basic head turning, showing the head moving from
front to profile.
How might the breakdown drawing be approached here to reflect the
use of arcs? Well, the way that it is most certainly NOT drawn is as a
A logical, straight inbetween of the head turn will look "mechanical" and
will actually give the appearance that the features of the face are sliding
across the head. Try it and see. Therefore, to avoid this happening and
to make the action look more natural and realistic, the breakdown needs
to be positioned at the base of a downward arc. However, before you
draw your breakdown, try turning your own head and sense what is
happening. You will be conscious of a very slight dip in its path of your
head's action as it turns... however slight that dip may be... and a sense
that your head moves up at there end as your eyes focus on what you
are turning to see. It's quite subtle, but it's real. This is the action that
has to be imitated for our example. Therefore, a more natural-looking
breakdown drawing might appear as...
Remember also that when the other inbetweens have to be added to the
arced action, they too will have to be drawn on an arc also... never in a
straight line. This sequence may take a little longer for the assistant to
do (I would expect the animator to do the breakdown drawing in this
case, unless the assistant is an experienced, seasoned professional) but
the final effect on the action will be so much superior to the straight
inbetweens, which might be attempted if speed and inexperience are a
Now bringing the eyes into play, on top of the arced head turn, will bring
even more life and naturalness to the action. Therefore, in the next
lesson we will deal with the basic elements that are involved in eye
Eye Movements: As earlier suggested, it is a very valuable exercise for
an animator to be able feel out the proposed movements of a character
through their own body first, wherever possible. To animate well, an
animator truly needs to literally "feel" that action within them before
attempting it. Remember too that the action of a character is determined
by their inherent thoughts and feelings within the scene... for thinking
always initiates action. Remember too that animation is not just making
drawings move... it is making drawing move WELL. That is dependent
upon a number of factors that the animator needs to address before
starting a scene, the least of which being the ability to feel the action
within themselves before animating it. I suggest that this as the "method
school of animation"... where you only really get out what you put in and
what you put in must come from within your own understanding of
yourself and the script. The more effort the animator puts in up front, the
better the action will turn out.
With such intentions in mind, start to become aware of your own body
and it's movement... specifically it's less obvious movement. Apart from
the arcing movements discussed, what other events happen when you
turn your head from front to side? (A word of caution and reminder
here... everyone acts differently when performing the same action and
even the same person might turn their head in a number of different
ways, depending on their general alertness, intention or state of emotion
[such as fear, irritation, aggression, supplication, desire, etc.]... so don't
be surprised if your action differs from what follows!) Pretty much
universally, the normal expectation of a head turn is that as it turns, the
eyes either close fully midway through, or else they half-closed. This
happens as they are beginning to adjust to a look in a new direction.
Therefore, in the case of our example, the breakdown drawing will
require a definite eye change if it is to become more impactful and
plausible, which simply closing the eyes will emphasize...
It is an old, well-worn axiom but the eyes truly are "the window to the
soul". We can tell so much about a person, how they are thinking and
how they are feeling, from the expression in their eyes. When it comes
to films, whether they be animated or otherwise, it is universally
acknowledged that the audience will always focus on the eyes when a
person, or character, is speaking. And, when it comes to market
research, to test audience responses to products in advertising
commercials, it is the degrees of dilation in the pupils of the eyes of the
audience that acts as a barometer to their receptivity to the products or
not. Therefore, so important are the eyes to the enrichment or a
character's performance, that some additional attention, concerning the
animation of eyes, will be invaluable...
For example, if the pupil is moving from one side of the eyeball to the
other, it is essential that the action of that pupil also be placed on an arc.
If not, the same sliding effect we discussed earlier with the straight head
turn will occur. Remember too that the eye is a ball, not just a flat white
circle, so the action must reflect a spherical one, not a lateral one.
Anyway, to gain strength and plausibility to the moving eye, the
movement will be more successfully achieved as so....
Now, if the pupil is moving on just one side of the eyeball... either up or
down... then the action of that pupil becomes even more convincing if
the outer circle of the eyeball it touches is stretched out just a little
where the pupil is. This distortion (again the more subtly drawn the
better... although with some "OTT" cartoon approaches this can be
exaggerated quite outrageously) would consequently move up or down
with the pupil as it moves...
With regards our head turn example... when the character's head is
turning in one direction, the action will be so much more convincing and
impactful if the eyes actually lead the direction of the head as early
within the action as possible. The following charting and keying is a
suggestion only, as so many factors will influence why it should be
Other subtle touches involved with the eyes will enhance, many fold, the
effectiveness of the action. For example, character receptivity. Have you
noticed that if the pupil in the eye of a real person is very small, it gives
the impression that they are dazed, weak, bored or just generally out of
salts. On the other hand, if a person's pupil is very large it gives the
impression of interest, receptivity, awareness... or simply that they are
under the influence of some relaxant substances! Therefore, animated
character eyes should reflect this reality, depending on the thinking and
emotion of the character at any moment in a scene. For example, "A"
(below) is quite reminiscent of a startled response, or of Homer
Simpson's vacant gaze... whilst "B" is more an expression that two
lovers might have when gazing into each other's eyes, or else a cat
might have when it's about to pounce on it's unsuspecting prey.
Exposure Sheets 01: An "exposure sheet" ("x-sheet" or "dope sheet") is
a page (or series of pages) that contains all the relevant information that
the animator will need to use when animating... including the phonetic
breakdown transferred from the bar sheets, scene "start" and "end"
("cut") points, the director's action notes and timings, areas for logging
animation and communicating shooting instructions to the cameraman,
etc. The exposure sheet is therefore the means by which the animator
can both organize their thinking all in one place and then communicate
these thoughts to others in the production chain. In some ways, the
exposure sheet is quite similar to a bar sheet, in that it reproduces
exactly… with frame-by-frame accuracy… the phonetic breakdown the
sound editor produced for the bar sheets. The only exception to this is
that the exposure sheet is smaller in size and formatted somewhat
differently. A typical exposure sheet looks like this...
Although many exposure sheets do differ (mainly in layout) from studio
to studio and country to country, the information contained here is pretty
much standard. At first glance the x-sheet will appear a formidable
adversary... comprising of a confusing number of vertical columns and
horizontal lines. However, once this is all broken down into its various
relevant parts, and understood well enough, the exposure sheet soon
becomes a friend, not an enemy.
Apart from the top section… which clearly provides space for the writing
in of the "Sequence", "Scene", "Scene Title" and "Page number"
information… the narrowly-spaced horizontal lines, seen beneath,
basically represent each frame of film the animator will be using. The
vertical columns, on the other hand, represent other aspects of what
comprises a scene and the animation process… namely (from left to
right) the director's/animator's action notes column, the dialogue
breakdown column, the six columns that represent the layers possible
for cel animation plus background artwork, and the camera instructions
Dealing the frames of film lines first however …
There are 16 frames of action for every foot of 35mm film, therefore
every sixteenth horizontal line on the exposure sheet is printed with a
double fine-line, to indicate that a foot of film has been reached.
Additionally, as most animation has been traditionally produced on
35mm film… and as cinema projectors project film at 24 "fps" (frames
per second)… it has always been easy to assess the exposure sheets in
terms of "time" also (in that one and a half feet of film equals one
second of time… i.e. three sections of the heavier ruling. (Indeed, as I
prefer to work in time terms, rather than footage terms, I invariably circle
the number of seconds passed in the "director/animator's" column beside
the dialogue column.)
However, with the advent of digital production… and the fact that the
process is further complicated by U.S. TV (NTSC format) effectively
broadcasting at 30 fps and U.K. TV (PAL format) broadcasting at 25
fps… studios have tended to change the heavily-ruled dividing markings
to suit their own particular needs. (For example, Web animation can be
broadcast at any fps rate required… it is principally dependent on the
volume of the material created, the broadband width of the audience it is
aimed at and, of course, personal preference.) However, as many TV
commercials are often produced for an international marketplace… on
35mm film and then converted to fit whatever broadcasting system is
required… then I think it safest to stick with the traditional exposure
sheet layout here. Specialty animators, addressing their own particular
markets, will of course have to adapt this traditional layout to suit their
Now, with regards the vertical columns of the exposure sheet…
As we have already noted, the vertical columns in the exposure sheet
have a diversity of uses and therefore they do need to be defined in
more detail than the frame lines.
The far left column is basically available for the director and/or the
animator to make action notes, sketch in thumbnail pose ideas, suggest
timings that need to be adhered to, etc. It is basically a time and motion
"note pad"… which has no relevance to anyone, other than the director
or animation. This column is therefore really only used prior to the
animation being produced.
The next column across indicates the phonetic breakdown of the
soundtrack. This will be information that has been directly transferred
from the bar sheet, on a frame-by-frame basis, and will accurately
indicate just on what frame(or frames) each word's phonetic breakdown
falls. (Note: With regards "phonetic" breakdowns… if the word being
analyzed is "barn", then it will phonetically notated as "B", "AH", "N".
If, alternatively, there is a musical content in the soundtrack, then the
dialogue column will display both the timings of the "music beats"
(usually marked with a colored asterisk on each frame where the beat
falls)… in addition to the "lyrics", broken down phonetically as before.
The next set of six, vertical columns indicate the maximum levels of
cels… plus background… that can possibly be filmed together at any
one time. Traditional 2D animation established the fact that a set
maximum of cels only could be shot over a background at any one time
and that any more than this would render the background and lower cel
artwork too dark. (Due to the fact that each level of cel [acetate] reduced
the light intensity of the artwork significantly… and therefore it was
universally accepted that there could only be a maximum of five levels
used before the scene would begin to look impossibly dark).
However, with modern digital technology of course, there is no limit to
the number of animation layers that can be used… thereby, in some
ways, making this traditional exposure sheet system impractical when it
comes to he more multi-level work. (Hence the need for each animator,
or animation studio, to adapt the traditional exposure sheet format to suit
their own personal requirements.)
Now, reading the animation level columns from right to left, we can see
that the first… and lowest… level is that reserved for the background.
Then, the layers ascend… column "1" being the lowest level and column
"5" being the highest. A great deal of full, traditional animation is still
produced on one or two levels however… plus a background. Therefore,
unless five levels are used in any one scene, it will most likely only be
columns "1" and "2" that are used.
Finally, the vertical column to the right of the exposure sheet is
exclusively reserved for the animator to communicate specific, additional
instructions to the cameraman. (i.e. "Additional" to the shooting
instructions indicated in the previous six columns.) Such additional
information can include the "Start" and "Cut" (end) points of the scene,
the "field size" (i.e. area of artwork to be seen by the camera) required,
any "panning & tracking" movements, "fade-in" and "fade-out"
instructions, etc., etc.
Needless to say, such information must always be clearly and coherently
written by the animator… as any ambiguous instructions here will
undoubtedly lead to confusion on the part of the cameraman, causing
errors in the shoot and therefore a need for the entire scene having to
be filmed again. (Note: In speaking in terms of "cameraman", "shoot" and
"filmed", we are here referring to traditional terminology that still
somehow sticks in the industry. It should therefore be taken as read that
these terms can also apply to modern "scanning" and "digital
compositing" techniques also.)