Thursday, March 01, 2007

Max the Hare Cycle from 1935

Not sure if everybody here has Michael Sporn’s Splog on their daily RSS feed (if you don’t then well shame on you!), but juuuust in case you haven’t seen it yet check out the drawings he’s posted of the animation hop/run/strut cycle of Max the Hare. This was done in 1935.

That’s 72 years ago people.


Here’s a Quicktime version I put together from the drawings. Sadly I don’t have the short film here to reference. This first QT is a simple 12fps (shot on 2’s). Feels a little floaty-ish to me so I suspect that maybe there’s some 1’s intended here. But maybe not.

I don’t have the timing charts so I don’t know exactly how the animator wanted it to play out. There are 8 drawings to the stride cycle (heel contact to heel contact) so if it was on straight 2’s it would come out to a 16 beat- which is really kinda slow (thus the pokey feeling on 2’s). If you played it on 1’s you’d get an 8 beat, which is about the fastest action beat you’re gonna find in a golden age cartoon. So my guess is it’s a straight 12 beat cycle with some drawings on 1’s to add some pop. Here was my guess after messing around a bit in a pencil shooter. This is a 12 beat cycle (each stride takes half a second) with mixed 1’s and 2’s…

That one feels like it’s got the sass that I can see in the drawings. It’s fun to dig in and guess around how the animator wanted this to time out. It’s like trying to get in their head 70 years later. I love doing this stuff.

Michael notes…

It’s interesting that he’s off the ground for 5 out of every 12 drawings. It helps create a delicate buoyancy overall. This is feasibly impossible, but it makes the run richer.

For all our modern wizardry this is the kind of thing that a lot of us CG animators seem to struggle in capturing well- the playfulness of cartoon physics. I have my theories as to why, but I’m gonna solidify them before I say anything more. But rest assured- I will say more. Eventually.

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