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Larry's Toon Institute Paintbrushes TIMING

TIMING is the essence of everything we do in animation. How slow or how fast an object or character moves helps define that object or character.

In film animation there are 24 frames in each second (24x's or 24fps).

Full animation requires 12 to 24 drawings per second to achieve believable action or movement.

If each drawing is photographed once (as in 24 drawings in a second) - it is called one's. If each drawing is photographed twice (as in 12 drawings in a second) - it is called two's.

Dialog is a usually a mixture of one's and two's.

In the case of limited animation substantially less drawings are used per second.

I have also seen where a squat character design is shot on three's during walks movements.

A hold is when the animation camera shoots one drawing for a number frames. Usually 6 frames is considered the shortest amount of screen time for a hold or a moving hold to register. Though some actions, such as eye blinks have different timings.

Early in my career, I met Bill Littlejohn, a master animator. One day over breakfast I asked him what jewel of animation wisdom could he pass along to me. Bill said, "If you ever get in trouble( with a scene)...make the character blink." Sounds simple enough and yet think of the possibilities - especially as related to TIMING.

Here is the TIMING for a normal eye blink:

Note: I held the last drawing 6 x's.

Even an eye blink can take on new meaning by playing with the TIMING!

A Snap Blink!

A snap blink is meant to be very quick with no inbetweens - just open and closed and open again!

Note: the closed position of the eyes is shown at an angle because of the muscle tension of a quick close movement.

A Double blink includes two closed positions.

Next, a single blink with the emphasis on the closed position.

Remember, holds and moving holds always come at the end of an action or movement. (such as, the open and closed positions of the blink).

WEIGHT can affect the TIMING of a character or object. A heavy character moves slower (uses more drawing to move) than a lighter character.

EMOTIONS also affect the TIMING. A depressed or sad character who has the "weight of the world" on their shoulders will move slower than a happy, upbeat, or victorious character.

ENERGY is another ingredient to consider. A run-down, tired character is slower and takes longer to perform a task than when the same character is awake and vibrant and ready to go!

SPECIAL EFFECTS - Most spfx are shot on one's. Effects such as spins, explosions, etc. cover a large area on the scene in a short amount of time. To maintain the persistence of vision and insure smooth movement he effects are shot on one's.

We will cover moving holds and cushions in another lesson.


  • There are 24 x's in one second of film animation.
  • FULL animation requires 12-24 drawings a second.
  • 24 drawings photographed per second is called one's.
  • 12 drawings photographed per second is called two's.
  • A hold is when the camera shoots one drawing a number of times.
  • Holds and moving holds always occur at the end of an action or movement.
  • Most Special Effects (spfx) need to be shot on one's to insure smooth movement.
  • Weight can effect TIMING (heavier - slower / lighter - faster).
  • Emotions effect TIMING. (burdened, sad - slower / happy, victorious - faster).
  • The same with Energy: (rundown, tired - slower / awake, vibrant - faster).



All images copyright © Larry Lauria, 1999
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