here are a number of useful tips to avoid monotony in motion.
Perhaps the most generic piece of advice that can be given in this
regard is: eliminate linearity. Although a static straight line has a certain aesthetic
appeal due to its geometric perfection, a monotone linear motion is much
less likely to work satisfactorily - in most cases, it's simply boring.
However, being nonlinear in motion does not
necessarily mean pushing your objects along a Bezier curve (although
this might be a good idea in some cases, too). See what other options
- Accelerate or decelerate all instances of motion. Constant
speed adds a mechanic feeling to any movement. Imagine that every
element in your composition has a certain mass, and therefore cannot
start or stop moving too abruptly. When you need some object to move and
then stop, or to stay for some time and then start moving, gradual
decelerating or accelerating is a must; but even for the cases where an
object just keeps moving without stopping (for example, until it gets
out of sight), adding some second derivative (which is the mathematical
equivalent for the physical concept of acceleration) will make its
movement more natural and engaging.
- Use curvilinear motion paths instead of linear ones where
possible, even if the curve is a simple circle. When moving an object
along a linear path, rotating it at some degree during the shift
will help to enliven it. Using rotation in combination with acceleration
or deceleration will make a motion much more organic.
- Adding a third dimension to your motion may compensate for
its too linear character. By this I do not mean real
3D, only a simple trick of enlarging or reducing an object
dynamically thus giving it an impression of "emerging" or "sinking"
relative to the plane of the screen. Again, this technique can be used
in combination with linear motion, accelerating/decelerating and
- Color and texture effects can, to
some extent, mask the linearity of a motion. Combined with a gradual
darkening/lightening, transparency variation, or a moving highlight such
as that of Fig. 2, even an absolutely
monotonous progression may turn into an interesting experience.
- Similarly, about any transformation of an object, such as
shape morphing or tweening, forces us to watch it with much closer
attention, even if the object is immobile or involved in a simple linear
motion. Transformations are something computers can do amazingly well,
and creative opportunities are enormous.
- With linear motions, try, at the very least, to make them as
short as possible; avoid frustrating the viewer by pushing an
object too far in a too monotonous manner. For short bits of motion, it
is much more difficult for the eye to notice their linearity.
- Furthermore, use a number of short linear movements of
different objects instead of a single object's complex motion path. With
a vector format such as Flash, you can use
multiple instances of the same object moving simultaneously in different
points and directions to create an impressive "swarming" effect with
minimum bandwidth. Generally, always attempt to compress your movie's
timespan by partially overlapping consecutive animation stages so
that the entire clip looks more dynamic and the possible deficiencies of
each single object's behavior are less noticeable.
Nonlinearity in animation is not as geometrically simple a concept as
it sounds. For example, the animation shown on Fig. 3, b has a good deal of
nonlinearity about it, too - although it does not use any rotation
or acceleration. Note that this short movie consists of three obviously
distinct stages, with two of them dominated by exploding and imploding
circles, and the third intermediate stage featuring a left-to-right
motion theme. As there are no clear boundaries between these stages, we
feel that the entire movie's character changes at least twice
during the cycle - and it is this change that contributes a
nonlinearity component to the motion, making it interesting enough to
watch from beginning to end.
In mathematical terms, nonlinearity means
that the derivatives of the second, third, and higher orders for some
variable - be it an object's size, spatial coordinate, character of
motion or any other aspect - are non-zero. To find an analog for
this animation concept, consider this fact from the science of
acoustics. A sound containing only a first order sinusoid, without any
overtones (harmonics), is very sharp, shallow, mechanistic. To get a
rich, lively sound of an interesting timbre, you should add some higher
order components to it. Analogously, to make a motion interesting, you
should expand its linear base by some nonlinear components of gradual
unfolding, growth, or inflexion.