Physics of Animation – Science Nation

Physics of Animation – Science Nation


Did you ever wonder who designed this flying dragon, making the wings look just right to soar? It takes more than artistic talent to create an animation like this from scratch. At every twist and turn, there’s science involved. CASSIDY CURTIS I rehearsed this shot by spinning in my chair. How am I gonna, I just need to, umph… MILES O’BRIEN: Every hop and skip requires an intuitive feel for physics. ALEJANDRO GARCIA: It’s not natural for a leg to bend this way. Anatomy is a topic that doctors study but so do artists. Now, with animation, physics has become another science which is essential to the craft of these artists.

Position:64% MILES O’BRIEN: Physicist Alejandro Garcia is adviser to animators at DreamWorks, helping them make dragons fly right and explosions look real. CASSIDY CURTIS: When something doesn’t feel like it’s physically capable of happening, it pops the audience out of the moment. It reminds the audience that what they’re watching isn’t real. You know, oh, Im watching a cartoon, and that can really be damaging to the story.

Position:70% DAMON REISBERG: This shot right here wouldn’t work out in the real world. MILES O’BRIEN: So Garcia helps them create believable, yet wacky worlds of their own. DAMON REISBERG: Each movie, each film animation that we do, has its own world of physics. Megaminds’ world wasn’t necessarily our world. ALEJANDRO GARCIA: If you have the character just moving side to side, then the stuff in the foreground is going to be moving much faster.

MILES O’BRIEN: And with support from the National Science Foundation, Garcia has developed a course at San Jose State University on the physics of animation. The idea is to teach animators-in-training, how to make it all look plausible. PAUL YULA: And you can stretch the rules, but you can never break the rules. ALEJANDRO GARCIA: You have to remember, the smaller the object, the harder the shadows. MILES O’BRIEN: Learning these lessons could give these fledgling animators a leg up on the competition when they start vying for jobs in the lucrative movie, TV, and gaming industry. CHARACTER: Look at the plane! MARILYN FRIEDMAN: It’s a very highly skilled industry and not every school is teaching it in the way that will set them up to succeed at a place like this. CHARACTER: Yes, I did it! MILES O’BRIEN: Imagine what they will create with a little physics under their wings. For Science Nation, I’m Miles O’Brien..