The Science of Animation



When watching your favourite blockbuster this summer did you think about what happened every single second during the movie? Not likely. Nor did you wonder about when one second ended and the next began, never mind 1/24th of each second. But for animators Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis it’s a way of life. The award winning National Film Board artists are featured this year at Beakerhead because of the science. Wait, what? There is a keen science to animation that Wendy notes “is extraordinarily tedious and time consuming but the thrill of seeing it come alive keeps you coming back to the table to do more”. From the math of calculating 24 frames a second to the physics of each and every detailed movement – acceleration, motion, how things drop, deceleration – Amanda and Wendy say “we are aiming for an organic math”.

So why don’t we see it? This is the beauty of animation. Different from film where the camera is creating the frames while recording the movement, animators are filming it one at a time. The goal Amanda says “is for the science to be invisible to the audience. We want them to experience the art. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Computer Graphics or the simplest of cut outs – it must transcend the science.”

It is largely intuitive and can’t be too perfect or it doesn’t feel natural. However they agree that a technical foundation is crucial before the intuition can take over; “it has to feel right or that precision overwhelms the original idea”.

Check out Wendy and Amanda’s work at and be sure not to miss BLEAKERHEAD or … Labours of Love and Technology at TELUS Spark September 18 from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. This is a ticketed event for a paltry $20 – well worth the dosh! Buy tickets here!

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