And Yet Another Animation

A multiple smear test


sonny rosenberg

1/19/20242 min read

Well, I threatened to post another animation, so I thought I should follow up with that.

This is a smear test. A smear is a little hard to explain. In animation, one tries to have almost all motion occur along the path of an arc. Most natural motion is like this, and it just looks better and more convincing when really everything is along arcs.

The problem is with really fast, big movements that occur in one frame. There's no real way to create an arc in a single frame big movement. A lot of great animations have huge movements occurring in a single frame and they look great. So how is this accomplished?

The solution that animators have come up with is to use a smear or multiple smear within a frame to complete the arc. A smear is a distortion or duplication along an arc of the original thing that's moving. It's somewhat analogous to motion blur.

If you happen to be a student of animation, you may have heard that smears are analogous to the (Disney) animation principal of Squash and Stretch. It's no such thing. Animators that claim that have rocks in their heads. There may be squash and stretch used in the smear, but that's not the point. Arcs are the point.

Below is an example of some multiple smears that I stole off the inter webs:

Keep in mind that these occur in one frame. 1/24 of a second.

Soon my students will be creating multiple smears of their own, so this is my slightly shabby example for them. There are a couple issues with this animation, EDIT: Problems with the smears have been mostly fixed.

If I get time, I may fix them soon after this is posted, but I've been fighting with a new computer, you would think a new Mac M2 Max would be ready for the world and the software that runs on it would be too, but I've spent the last couple days fixing and trying to fix issues between the softwares I use and this somewhat piece of s*!# computer. Luckily more knowledgeable people than me are working on these issues too.

I guess it's time to shut up and present the video.