What You Need To Know About Timing and Spacing.

Timing and spacing… Until know, I never realize that timing is such a HUGE topic to learn. I spent this week so far by reading and watching tutorials (well, aside from work that is) and now I can say I have much better understading of timing and spacing which is very important for an animator. I noted down the important part as I studied to share with everyone… So here it is…


Timing is how long it takes to do an action or how long a move takes to go from pose A to pose B no matters how it gets there. To figure out the right timing of an action you have to use either video reference, get up and act it out, time your movement, etc.

Spacing is pace or variation of pace in the time between pose A and pose B, how the movement is spread out in a certain amount of time to give hints, feelings and emotion, personality, flavour, meanings, etc.

Phrasing is how you structure the move/actions in a shot or scene to build a point of emphasis. Phrasing have to be done properly in a scene to keep the audience’s interest by playing with the intensity and timing of the actions. This can be done by finding and choosing the most important pose or action in a scene, the one you want the audience to get for sure. Emphasis the chosen shot or action with the contrast of baseline emotion and the baseline of the baseline energy of the scene.
To build phrasing we can use:
– Poses – using introverted and extroverted poses, contrast, large vs small intensity poses, line of action.
– Staging – where you put the character in the shot in certain time.
– Depth
– Strech and Squash
– Speed and the building and release of energy.
– Rythm of the character movement/characteristic.


– Slow in and Slow out/ Ease in and Ease out
Ease out (of a pose) is like a car when you hit the gas, it slowly moves faster and faster not just full speed straight away. When the car is stopping it applies slow/ease in unless its a sudden stop cause by particular reason (eg. crash into a brick wall).
Slow/ease in and out is used to build speed of a movement to make it look more natural. To achive this eases , use the graph editor but not just by pulling/modifying the tangent but you also have to add keyframe and time it around the scene.

– Weight
With timing and spacing is the main way you can create the feeling of weight of an object or character.
Eg. When animating a ball, to create the feeling wether the ball is heavy or light is depends on how you arange the timing and the spacing of the ball in the sequence.

– Feeling
By varying up the timing and spacing, you can create entirely different feelings.
Eg. In a sequence of ball bouncing accross just by varying the arcs and timing you can get totally different impressions. By making varying the bounce’s arcs height and make some higher than the rest will create something unexpected make it look playful. If you make all arcs with the same height and push the keys a little closer together, it will makes the ball bouncing like its rushing for something.


“The ryhthm and timing of animation is like a good musical score – it builds to crescendos and drops into quite – ait surges and it slows – it lifts and it falls. An audience need that change. It must have a periods of excitements and period of rest. Our action must have variety and vitality in timinglest it becomes monotonous and iritating. Action, like emotion, needs change to get and keep the viewrs interest. It has to be alive. We might say it has to be moody, impulsive, sprinkled with surprises. It has zest, humour, drama and meaning. How through expressive drawings, movement patterns and our timing and action skills.” _Eric Larson_

There are few ways to achieve variation in timing. This can be achieve by :

– Assymetry/offset => Vary a timing within a move of body parts of character so it does not accelerate and decelerate at the same rate and no twinning (mirror) between the timing of the left and right side of the character.
Eg. A character raise the hand or arm quickly and drops it down slowly. Also, the left arm movement is faster then the right.

– 3 Speeds => Fast – Medium – Slow. Always try to get all three speed into a scene, sometimes you can get it all happening all at the same time by layering the speed in the movements of different part of the body.
Eg. Pongo in a scene where he is having a lazy time in front of the window – he is sleepy so his overall moves is slow, but not all his moves are slow. He got quick scratching movement of the foot, ear snaps back, slow strech layerd with high frequency vibration.

– Creating and breaking patterns => If you going to create a pattern in your animation, you occasionally wants to break that patterns to create emphasis, make the character playfull and builds interest.
Eg. For good example, watch pixar’s intro and look at luxo’s spacing patterns as he jumps around.

That’s all for now… I hope you find this note usefull…

Keep on animating…



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