Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Movement notation

The name of Eadweard Muybridge is known to just about every animator; his books analysing motion in humans and animals have been the bible of the animation industry even today though they were published over a hundred years ago.

Dancers also use various forms of movement notation, and Choreologists work with Choreographers to record dance routines using such systems as the Labanotation and the Benesh method among others.

In 1958 Noah Eshkol and Abraham Wachman published a notation for describing movement based on a geometric concept, and was one of the systems used by NASA to see how astronauts would move in zero gravity.

When I started in animation I wondered if the two concepts of pictures and notation could be put together. On joining the Computer Arts Society ( in the early 1960s I met John Lansdowne, an architect who had an interest in ballet, and had created program that combined the ideas of pictures and notation.

His system had a set of numbered figures in various positions. By typing in the number sequence with the number of frames for each image you could create a dance sequence.
In those days you had to print out the images, but the concept was proved even though I am unaware of it ever being used seriously by dancers.

Things have moved on, and Motion Graphics allow movements to be recorded in real time. An example is at which lets you to play around with some simple walk cycles.

If you want something better you might look at Poser 6 ( which has libraries of figures ready to animate.

Muybridge would have been proud of his heritage.

Check out: Movement Notation


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