Who are fond of watching animation movies or series can definitely feel that while watching, we feel so connected to the reel characters that we often forget that these are being made in a computer, they are not something from the real world. The fantastical world that it creates on the screen which connects to people heart actually been made on the ground of physics. To be connected to an imaginary character, to bind audience to their seats, the animators have to take into account the principles of physics to make the reel characters give the feel of real characters. With the advancement of technologies, people are now eager to watch characters which comes under the parameters of gravity like if it falls from the sky or jump from the cliff and hits the ground it can die or get hurt. Animators all over the world have agreed that with animation, anatomy, as well as physics, can always be count on. If you’re going to do something under science and movies, it is now a vast area to utilize your mathematical or scientific skills in the movie world.
Apart from the character movement and expression in animation movies, a part of the movie category known as ‘Sci-Fi’ or science fiction is typically the example of creating a fantasy world with the coordination of art and science, technology and the main focus of the movie makers is now related to making these reel things look much comparable to the real thing. For example, if we see the movie ‘interstellar’ which has taken us to the world of time travel which seems fairly impossible in the real world got such a huge appreciation by people. Though making such a movie which stays firm on the laws of physics is really tough but it is a mandatory work to make it relatable where the audience can actually wonder “What if this happens in reality?” It is quite interesting to know that in Hollywood, behind every animated or science fictions there is a whole bunch of professional people who work really hard, comprises of a story teller, art director to physicist or scientist who is responsible for analyzing each and every shot with their calculations and facts. The goal is to basically use the science from the real world to improve the story that can connect with the audience. The theoretical physicist from all over the world are being called to the sets and they have a say in the making of the story which can make it more valuable to work on.
Another interesting use of science that has been used in animation movies is ‘Chroma shoot’ where a photograph or a real person’s movement has been captured with a blue or green background and that can be changed to a different background later with the help of computer effects. The computer can subtract the color blue and green and give a transparent background and it becomes very easy for the animator or the graphic designer to put the background that the scene demands. Not only in movies, nowadays even the small TV shows and series of the web are inspired by the scientific calculations. An official science and entertainment exchange was established in Los Angeles, California in 2008. The main agenda of this exchange was to collab entertainment with science and this ultimately helped both parties for better entertainment and larger audience. Through this scientist got a platform to show their innovation and work and reach out to the masses and for the media partners, it gives them a logical base for the work to put upon.
In the basics, as an animation student, I have come around that the 12 principles of animation on which the whole animation world resides, are actual facts from physics. There is nothing fantasy or un-realistic methods have been used to make animation. To make things more clear, below are few examples which can easily show the relationship between science and animation principles.
The first principle in animation which is squash and stress solely been using to show the simple things like a bouncing ball or more complex constructions, like the musculature of a human face. It basically used to show the weight and flexibility of the characters. However, this principle of animation can be related to the concept of Elasticity of physics where it is the property of solid materials to return to their original shape and size after the forces deforming them have been removed.
The second one of the important rule for animation called Anticipation is a total physical activity. As a generalized science, anticipation is being used in animation to make an action looks more realistic. Like before throwing a ball a character has to bend his hand and body little backward and one leg little up in the air. Simply in the physics, universal law for the interaction of pedestrians in a crowd, based on a walker’s ability to anticipate collisions, leads to accurate simulations of a variety of crowd conditions. Anticipation can help sell the build-up and storage of energy before initiating a new physical activity. This made audience prepare that a new action is about to happen.
The follow through is the third part mentioned in animation. When we look through the Newton’s First Law that is the law of inertia which states that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. If you throw a ball your hand would gain speed since your hand has mass it wants to keep going. This is the follow through time. To give the character’s movement a real feel, follow through is one of the best options which will differentiate movements of a real person and a robot. If we abruptly stop a character’s walk without a follow through it would go against the law of physics and will give a robotic feel.
Time and spacing are often calculated in the scientific study as timing and spacing indicate speed and that when spacing change there’s acceleration in the character. In animation, we use a frame to calculate the time and speed of the character where lesser frames mean high speed and as the character will take less time to travel. Along with it there will be higher spacing as the character’s movement will make more changes. Alternatively, higher the frames will be lesser the speed as it means the character will take more time to move and its movement will make lesser changes in the body making lesser spacing. The whole idea of time and spacing from the real world physics has been set up to make things look realistic when moving.
Apart from the mentioned principles, Staging, arc, slow in slow out etc. are the rest principles which clearly stated that the making of the animation is not something created by false assumption. It has a strong base which are well verified by the scientist all over the world.
The modelling of characters which is an integral part of the animation world has also been solidly based on the principles of biology. If not demanded by the scene, the basic human character which we see in movies has so much similarity to real characters. We can easily distinguish between a child character and mature men / women character just looking at the proportions of their bodily measures. The modeller has to keep in mind the basic proportions of the human or an animal body before drawing out in the paper or creating the mesh on the computer. Similarly, in rigging part which is making joints and bones in the body made by the modeller is also inseparable from science biology. The rigger who is responsible for making bones and joints using which the animator can create movement should be proper realistic. For example, if the length of the bones from the shoulder to elbow is longer than the bone joining elbow to wrist, it would create unrealistic movement of the character. Same way, if we rig characters with bones which cannot rotate in real life would look odd and unbelievable.
But with all the extensive use of the science in the movie making and the special approaches of the scientist in the movie process there are little pessimistic views on it too. These scientists-turned-filmmakers have to adjust their appetite for making scenes too realistic or everything under the facts which becomes little off for entertainment industry. In entertainment industry the main agenda is to entertain people and to make them understand in their own concept, so a bit of exaggeration is one of the key for holding people in the theatres. After all, it’s a visual medium where people tend to have their own time to relax. But we also cannot deny the fact that with the help of the scientific facts from the real world decorated the fantasy world and make science more approachable and meaningful for normal people through visualisation. As quoted by Arthur C. Clarke, “Any science or technology which is sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic”.