Animation Smear Frames [Scribble Kibble #61]
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Animation Smear Frames [Scribble Kibble #61]

August 26, 2019


You’re watching Scribble Kibble, a weekly
show about animation. This episode is all about the best thing ever:
smear frames. What is an animation smear frame? I’ll let Johnny Bravo explain. No, this is not an error. Somebody drew it this way on purpose. Smear frames are animator’s magic, a trick
to fool people’s brains. You only see this picture for 1/12 of a second
at most, so your brain isn’t going to process that this is what the drawing looks like. Instead, your mind fits that image into the
pattern of movement. What you see is a very fast, cohesive action. Smear frames exist because in the real world,
there is this phenomenon called motion blur. Wave something in front of your face really
fast. It’s blurry. Smear frames exist to simulate that real world
effect. The artist is drawing in the blur. And hey, if you wave something in front of
your face fast enough, it really will look either like multiples of the same thing, or
a very long blur. That’s your smear frame. I really love smear frames because there are
no rules about how to make them. You can endlessly experiment with distorting
the drawings in between two key poses. Make tons of body parts. Stretch things way out. Disintegrate the character into splats of
color. Nobody’s going to tell you, yeah, to make
a smear frame, you make the character twice as wide, and give it two sets of eyes, and-
no. No. There’s no law here. Most animation smears serve one of two purposes:
to connect two different poses or to create the illusion of a very fast motion, like spinning. Even though you can draw the smear however
you want, if you’re starting out making these things for the first time, it’s a
good idea to follow a principle of using the distortion to connect two drawings. You want it to be the bridge between them. If my character is going straight from A to
B, then an eye smear will be along that straight path. This or this or this, it doesn’t matter,
it’s on the path. Look at the motion path of the body parts
and draw your smear along those lines. If my character is going to dip and weave
on the way to B, then the motion path isn’t a straight line, it’s this. Now her eyes follow this path. As does the rest of the body. So if anything, the most important part of
a smear frame is the motion path. Unless your character is literally exploding
into pieces all over the place between poses, the smear frame distortions will follow the
character’s movement, no matter how stretched out or multiplied or weird it is. You can even be sloppy with your drawings,
and as long as they’re on the motion path, it’ll look good played back in real time. Most of the time you’ll need a frame or
two to get from the smear back to reality. The ease in can be as simple as some trailing
smudges on a regular frame, or it can be a decrease in the amount of distortion. Smear cycles are a bit different than pose
connecting smears because they loop. Here’s a classic example of a smear spin
from Spongebob Squarepants. This one is three drawings with body parts
multiplied along the motion arc and some tornado lines. Just like with pose connecting smears, there
are endless ways to make a smear cycle. You can draw motion lines, you can multiply
parts of the body, you can stretch parts so they follow the motion arc. Smear cycle animations are usually only three
or four drawings looped. That’s all on smears for now. See if you can spot any in the animations
you’ve been watching! Let’s see what is in the art folder. Hm. Where is my food dish? Oh, here it is. NOM NOM NOM NOM. Aw, that was delicious! Now it’s time to dance. Dance! Thanks for watching. See you next time. Pbthbhbhbht.

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  1. When your having a good time watching a video, then you hear a boy screaming outside presumably saying help me… I hope he's okay…

  2. Or use RSMB on Sony Vegas or Adobe Flash (Flash has a blur effect) when you're lazy to even make smear frsmes

  3. The loop smear in the stop motion "Bump in the night" is multiple puppets in certain frames, always loved playing those larts in slowmo

  4. Your witch animation had no slow in and slow out so it looked kinda bad. Johnny bravo has it which is why it looks good. You even talked booth this but only very briefly.

  5. Please stop making these you’re putting good animators who went to college out of a job and a bunch of 10 year olds are becoming better than them

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