How to Improve Your Animation Skills with the Olympics

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The Olympics is a worldwide event that unites the best athletes in what we believe to be the climax of the sports. The whole world is watching and following each new medal and achievement.

What about you? Do you watch the Olympics? You should. Even if you aren’t a big fan of sports, the Olympics can be a great resource for Animators and Illustrators.

Tip: If you don’t like sports, just discover where you can find the footage of the winning Athletes or use Youtube, for example, to find old footage of previous Olympic Games.

The reason why I believe the Olympics are such an amazing research is that the best athletes in the world are being captured all the time by many cameras, from multiple angles and thanks to technology, in slow motion :)

For us animators, each one of those slow motions is a blast of inspiration. My eyes barely blink when I see something like that. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a professional in the animation field, you should definitely keep an eye in the Olympics.

One of my favorite sports in the Olympics is the Gymnastic. It’s a huge combination of elegance, strength, and motion in a sport that absolutely takes the human body to its maximum.

Just pay attention to any of those competitions. Watch carefully each one of those slow motion, and extract every frame of those videos. It’s the best way to learn how they are doing those movements, and eventually how you could apply it to your animations.

Transforming the competition into a learning experience

Something I like to do and that I recommend to you is to take other professional’s work, movies, animations, or any kind of visual reference and try to replicate it as a way to improve your skills. I constantly search for the people I appreciate and spend some time figuring out how they’ve achieved a certain effect or movement.

I use a lot of video references as well. It can look like a tedious work but rotoscoping is a great way to learn animation and basic of movements. During the Olympics, my “studies folder” becomes full of inspiration. Getting those slow motion videos and animating over them is some of the learning methods I use.

Just take as an experiment this amazing guy in our blog post illustration. Yes, Usain Bolt is the man. The fastest man – Sorry The Flash – who can even smile for the finish line picture. Have you ever tried to understand how he can run so fast? What if you’d like to make a character to run as fast as Usain, or even faster than him? (It’s your animation, you can do whatever you want)

Taking a look at the recordings from his sprints, especially in slow motion, you can analyze how his body aligns, how he switches between legs on his run, and how he pushes himself from the ground.

Always look the world around you

An animation is all about analyzing and understanding the movements of the real world! If you take a look further, your animations have a lot more in common to the Olympic Sports than you imagine.

Let’s take some examples. If you take a look at the different modalities you’ll find this kind of movements:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Fighting
  • Jumping
  • Acrobatic Movements for Fights
  • Stretching
  • Twisting
  • Swinging
  • Lifting
  • and much more…

It’s all there! Made by high-performance athletes with perfect and muscular bodies, tons of extreme poses and strong movements. It’s the perfect reference if you are an animator or even an illustrator.

Absorb the essence of the each action, each movement, and translate them to your characters.

Take the Olympic Games as an inspiration for your creations. Take advantage of the technology we have today. Watch it, replay it, and even draw on it, as a way to learn more about the human body and its movement.

The key to growing as a professional is to look for inspiration to your work on daily things and small details. Put your Animator head to work!

Now, enjoy some videos we chose for you as a starting point :)

67 responses

  1. I was only 21 when I visited Kent – it was a lovely place to cycle and eat fresh bakery items, and visit Cathedrals. Nothing there like the work of NORD in those days. White Cliffs of Dover, Canterbury and the tales, quirky Folkstone, and the smugglers of Rye. My favorite memory was cycling down the road with the scent of an orange marmalade factory in the air.

  2. Conspiracy: I think you’re onto something. He should totally do a 99% protest gimmick and talk about how his communications degree in 19th century South East Asian media from a place dubbed Texas Canada, has left him unemployable, and thus, he has to do something he hates, which is wrestling. Just to feed his cats.

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  7. 靈知和猶太的三靈論之序對照如下:Soma(個體) > Psyche(é­‚) > Pneuma(靈)Nefesh(歇息)> Ruach(風) > Neshamah(氣息)在《抹大拉瑪利亞福音》中則出現了更複雜的情況,耶穌籍著抹大拉瑪利亞教導接收異象的方法,當中提及到「é­‚」與「靈」間有著第三種中介體:此時我(抹大拉瑪利亞)問祂:「人是透過魂還是靈在異象中得見你呢?」救主回答說:『那並不是透過魂或靈,而是兩者間的智。』」Soma(個體) > Psyche(é­‚) > [ Nous (智)] > Pneuma(靈)以此說法對照生命樹結構的話,Nous 的位置就該是落在不自流溢而生的「睿智輪」 (Da’at) 上,生命樹首三流溢輪 (GAT) 與下七流溢輪 (ZAT) 的交接處,亦即靈知所在。這樣說,自生的靈知就是結合生命樹上層和下層鴻溝的鑰匙,讓靈魂部份 Psyche/Ruach 與之上的 Pneuma/Neshamah 得以合一。三靈論(加上 Nous)亦是靈知創世神話及 Barbelo 三次降臨之說的結構關鍵。靈知文獻指空中掌權者 Yaldabaoth 在創世時乃是以泥土 (Soma) 而造出傀儡阿當;之後,Sophia/Barbelo 借 Yaldabaoth 的口將「風」(Psyche) 吹進傀儡阿當而使之成為「活人阿當」,為之 Barbelo 以父之形第一次降臨,第三身形式的救贖;Sophia 差遣女兒 Zoe (生命)成為眾生之母夏娃就是 Pneuma 所在,為之 Barbelo 以母之形第二次降臨,第二身形式的救贖;到最後 Barbelo 披帶耶穌道成肉身傳授靈知 (Nous) ,讓太初之分離得以重新結合,為之 Barbelo 以子之形第三次降臨,第一身形式的救贖。以基督 (Nous) 作為結合阿當 (Psyche) 和夏娃 (Pneuma) 間的鑰匙,這樣就能詮釋《腓力福音》「婚筵新房」之迷:若女人沒有從男人中分離,他們就不用死亡。他們的分離就是死亡之始。就此,基督來是要去修復在太初所分離的,使他們從二合為一,並將生命給予那些在分離中而死亡的,再結合起來。然而女人與男人乃在婚筵新房中結合,那些在婚筵新房裡結合的永不會再分開。夏娃和阿當之分離正是因為他們並非在婚筵新房中結合。

  8. I’m not saying that she should be Frankenstein Junior (though a female character with some nasty scarring would be wicked IMO), but the glaring disparity between male characters who are allowed to look their age and show signs of a rough life, and female characters who are almost always young and smooth and Photoshop-perfect is just something that irritates me, especially if both are supposed to represent the same person.

  9. En effet, ils sont vraiment chouettes ces livres jeux !!!!(Merci pour le lien ^^, le parcours de billes plaît beaucoup en effet. Les billes sont utilisées et réutilisées ouiiii) L’été approche et voilà un livre jeu qui sait occuper les enfants, merci pour cette belle création.

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  11. The cowl looks beautiful and yes red is a hard color to take a pic of isnt it. I had a bit of trouble with my Ishbel too, having to rip out one section about 3 times but in the end I conquered it and decided that knitting it once was enough!

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  19. October 6, 2012 at 5:24 pmHi Dixie!O my.. well… it’s amazing what you can get from one little card. You’ve really hit into the heart of it. You know though, it’s not easy for him… he’s got 6 planets in Libra, 4th House. yeeesh. LOL I’m sure you’re picking up what I’m putting down. Thanks for the excellent reading.. I’m going to forward this to my hubs. And even though Chongo had no words of wisdom for me today, give her a nice scratch behind the ears from me. :3Many Thanks, Beth (and Family) Reply

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  22. Peeta or Haymitch.Peeta really does love Katniss, and in both the Games will do anything to get her home. When he shows Katniss he loves her, it’s not for the sponsors, like it sometimes is for her, but because he means it. I’ll admit that I almost cried when I found out what the Capitol did to him in Mockingjay. Haymitch knows what he’s doing. He’s the reason Katniss and Peeta survive the games. Though it doesn’t always seem like it, he always looking out for them.

  23. Yeah, me too.The general disgruntled attitude I sense about CGI is a good sign – something like Where the Wild Things Are, which could have been TOTALLY digitized – looked gritty and raw, with basically giant puppets in REAL settings – it worked so well, and was a breath of fresh air.

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