Hey, nice animation style you’ve chosen. Seriously, it looks great. One problem though: now that you know how it’s going to look, do you know how it’s going to move? Are the objects on screen going to rise up from the floor? Plop into place? Spin into position? Dissolve into a predetermined and aesthetically pleasing configuration? When talking about how objects should animate onto the screen, the possibilities are endless. Giving the movement some character is a great way to solidify your show’s unique flavour – if you choose correctly. What we’re saying is: a little attitude can go a long way – as long as it’s appropriate.

At the risk of sounding like John Lithgow in Footloose, not all animations need to move with attitude. It should match the style of your show, or else the animations will disrupt the groovy flow of the episode and confuse your audience – maybe even cause them to abandon the show completely and dance out their frustrations in an abandoned warehouse (here ends the Footloose references)

Take, for example, the 3D room animations in the series, Home Town. The camera moves fluidly through the 3D models as the old rooms dissolve away and the new elements fade in, taking their place. Chairs don’t drop in from the ceiling like there’s a poltergeist; couches don’t pop up from the floor like they’re spring-loaded. It’s a very calm approach to the movement of the animation – matching the show’s laidback country vibe.

But, just because there’s no movement doesn’t mean that it can’t be exciting! The animations RPM created for the renovation series, 24 Hour Flip, also had very little movement. We used a sketchy blueprint style to illustrate the designs. The old room erased from the blueprint as the new design was sketched overtop. Once the new drawing was completed, the textures on the walls, ceiling, flooring and furniture hastily painted onto the sketch, transforming it into the 3D world – this created not only a sense of urgency, but also, precision. Taking this approach, we were able to highlight the show’s “ticking time bomb” style. It conveyed the energy we needed, without having things fly around the room.

Not that there’s anything wrong with having things fly around, as our work on Barbie’s Dream House Challenge can attest to. Obviously, when you’re creating animations for Barbie, you go big or go home – and we went big! First, we created a 3D plastic-toy-dollhouse replica of the real house. Then, we had to figure out how it moved. We locked it down to two choices; all the objects in the house could move like toys that “clip” into place; or, they could be magic! They could spin and grow and pop – even if plastic can’t. After seeing the first cut, it became clear that the magic route was the correct one to take. We gave all the objects a bit of character, allowing them to jump into their position Bipity-Boppity-Barbie style using some exaggerated “popping” dynamics. Then, we added sparkly fairy dust as a flourish, and voila! We had a movement style with just the right amount of attitude.

Will it flip? Will it flop? How about bop, twist or spin? Dissolve? Sparkle? Explode out of a confetti cannon? These are the questions that we, as a species, must face when developing a movement style within our animations. But as long as you’re working within the attitude of your show, feel free to cut footloose (ah, there was one more reference).