Breaking up movements : Mulan

One of my regular struggles is breaking up movements so that my animation doesn’t feel pose to posey or that different body parts have the same motion. A few months ago Jason Martinsen gave a talk at Animation Mentor about breakdowns and inbetweens, highlighting the work of Charlie Bonifacio and also the breakdowns used on Mushu in Mulan (supervised by Tom Bancroft).

I went through a couple movements from random points in the film and tracked how the head an hands have been broken up. Note the mix up of spacing, arcs, easing, anticipations and overshoots. I especially love in this first example how the arc of the mallet brings our attention back to Mushu’s face.

*Edit* Thanks also to Charlie and Tom for commenting and crediting the animators. The first was example was by Rob Corley and the following 3 were by Tom Bancroft.

Mulan : Mushu key frames
Mulan : Mushu animation breakdown

Mulan : Mushu key framesMulan : Mushu animation breakdown

Mulan : Mushu key framesMulan : Mushu animation breakdown

Mulan : Mushu key frames Mulan : Mushu animation breakdown



12 thoughts on “Breaking up movements : Mulan

  1. John-Michael

    Really cool posts on Twinning and breaking up movement! Very usefull and great examples! Also, I thought I would say thank you, as I saw your article on TeamTo last year about their feature Yellow Bird and applied to that studio and am currently working there! Thanks!! John-Michael

  2. JK Riki

    Really great analysis, thanks! It’s always fascinating to see things broken down like this. Gives you so much insight into the process. It would be cool to see timing charts set under these, too. 🙂

  3. Charlie Bonifacio

    Hey Tim,

    It’s Charlie ! These breakdowns are GREAT ! but these shots are ALL Tom Bancroft’s animation ! Just thought you should know so he gets the credit, not me !

    Charlie B

  4. admin Post author

    Hey guys, thanks for the comments!
    Charlie, I’ve changed the wording of the post to make that a bit clearer. Thanks!

  5. Massimiliano

    Very nice post Tim! I really like those breakdowns you analyzed and, in addition to that, those smear frames add so much appeal! would like to see more 🙂

  6. Nick Arbeiter

    Tim, this is awesome! I actually thought about trying to breakdown some shots from 3D scene this way. They look awesome! Really helpful to analyze too. You are the man!

  7. Tom Bancroft

    Hey, thanks for posting this really cool article and for the nice shout outs about my work on Mushu. It was nice of the gracious and talented Charlie Bonifacio to chime in and give me credit on these scenes too. One correction to his correction though: that first example (I’m pretty sure; it’s been awhile) is a Rob Corley scene. Thanks again!

  8. Anna

    This is a really interesting post! I really love your blog!

    What did you use to record the frames and put them into GIF form?

  9. Jay Brashears

    Thanks for the awesome breakdowns! I noticed that the main/biggest smear for each body part was kept separate from the main smear of the other parts, never on the same frame. Like on the last example Mushu’s claw smears on 4 while his snout smears on 7. I think this really helps to avoid that pose-to-pose feel. In pose-to-pose it’s common to transition from, well, pose to pose with smears, but those smears are applied to everything moving on the same frame. That really contributes to that snappy feel pose-to-pose has. By making sure smears happen on a unique frame for every moving part it helps keep smears from being super obvious and keeps up that organic flow!

  10. Martin Shellabarger

    I am working on my Master’s degree in Creativity Studies and Animation, and wondered if anyone knew where I can find information on and examples of the thought process which goes into creating “business” — how a key animator elaborates action from the script. My thesis is on cognitive processes during animating.

    Thank you,

    Martin Shellabarger


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