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“You see blouse… I see breasts!” – Focus in Animation

“You see blouse… I see breasts!”
Focus in Animation

Since the dawn of man, well at least for a very long time, we have had one significant and dare I say invaluable skill, that even today defines us as … well.. man.

I am talking about the ability to scan a situation, evaluate and single out a point of interest, only to home in more, focus on that one subject and according to needs even make out the information that is not available.

This urge to focus and fill out the blanks has helped us immensely through history.

When Neanderthals needed to know that this huge oddly shaped branch sticking out from behind that tree was, in fact not a branch, but the long and quite sharp teeth of a sabre-toothed tiger – that skill came in handy.

When an 1800’s engineer looked at a ships engine at full steam and needed to know that the first valve of the third cylinder (…yeah I know – but I’m a car guy – not a steam enthusiast) sticking out slightly, obscured by rotating cogs and otherwise bad lighting is in fact about to fall out and cause a massive explosion (again I know – but it makes for good imagery) – that skill came in handy.

Even today, we need to address situations all the time, focus and fill out the blanks in order to understand and take precautions if necessary. Like breasts for example… a lot of men and even women do this every day – I do that – even babies do that. Well they actually have this ability to judge – through the obscured view of a blouse, or top… or bra – that that breast is actually a healthy breast, it sits on the babies mother and that it can get a hell of a grip on the pointy thing.

*** The Point ***

So where am I getting with all this – well I am trying to make a point as an animator. This ancient and life defining skill is something all animators use every day when they go to work. Not looking at breasts… well…….. well.. but utilizing this ability to focus, sieve away unwanted information only to almost x ray and mess with the stuff they need to mess with at that given point of … workday.

To put this in context – yesterday I started to work on a “Roll” animation. You know – soldier drives a vehicle at high speed, soldier wants out and haven’t got the decency to brake gently. Soldier jumps off at speed only to find that he doesn’t control his centre of gravity THAT well and makes a roll to rub off some speed and gracefully end up standing. Ta-Daaah!

The thing is … most animations are quite forgiving in their progress. But this one had me rotating the whole character rig 360 degrees around a horizontal line – hence the “Roll”.

This might not sound like that big of a deal for you, the otherwise enlightened reader, but when choosing IK for hands and legs (Inverse Kinematics ) which I, for other reasons that I won’t bore you with, found appropriate for that animation – the “Roll” quickly took the form of a maaad dust devil on the loose. Not nice.

This is where I jump into a telephone booth and change outfits only to turn into super… well… me and tap into that ancient and most useful skill.

*** Focus dammit ***

I need to get the hip and spine motion – both forward movement and rotation as the body rolls – to flow nicely, but I need to see this through the obscuring view of arms and legs and even his equipped “Garand” rifle flying all over the place.

Imagine both feet and hands NOT rotation over time as the body does its roll… some people.. and certainly small kids… might want to look away now, cause – its going to get nasty! Lets just say that a paramedic wouldn’t be able to save this chap even if he could utilize the focus skill to the fullest.

Anyhow, I need to ignore the painful arm and leg braking and home in on the primary body movement and once I am satisfied go and try and untangle the feet and hands one limb at a time.


Of course there are millions of different ways to animate and equally as many programs and rigs to accompany the animator. This situation is however something you often run into again and again.

Building up a “Run Cycle” or even a “Roll” requires a building bricks breakdown of movement – first hip, then feet, then spine, then hands, then etc. Even first position, then rotation then yada yada yada or whatever you usually do as an animator.

All the time and especially when animation DOESN’T work its critical that you can reach up on the shelf and strap on the focus skill, in order to surgically fix stuff that is at the root of the problem whilst not loosing all of your momentum being distracted by the annoying stuff blocking your view.

*** Wrap it up Colding ***

So – even though its handy to be able to judge a pair of breasts size and shape supported or unsupported through the obscuring layers of cover me ups – its as important for the animator to master this skill when animating.

And if you, the trusted reader, have utilized your ability to focus through obscuring words, facts and nonsense in this blog you would know by now that I have used the otherwise out of context word “Breast” 8 times and even slipped in “Pointy” and “Strap on” …. now who said it’s boring to do games.

Cheerios – Reto.Colding

  1. VashuVashu12-14-2011

    Interesting read. Best of luck with the animation! Is there going to be female soldiers in the game?

  2. Reto.ColdingReto.Colding12-14-2011

    Hi Vashu,

    Thanks man … female soldiers are not scheduled for launch but could be a nice addition later ;)

  3. lorenzenlorenzen12-14-2011

    you are crazy.

    • lorenzenlorenzen12-14-2011

      And i like that.

  4. Reto.ColdingReto.Colding12-14-2011

    ;) well I’m having crazy fun :) Cheers

  5. RyconRycon12-14-2011

    Interesting read!

    And I am sure you would have fun coding female soldiers in the future!

  6. OrganicHallucinosisOrganicHallucinosis12-15-2011

    This article is the best article.

    Stay classy Reto.

  7. Reto.ColdingReto.Colding12-15-2011

    @ Rycon – Glad you liked it… oh yes… lets face it… animating females kind of beats animating males…. at least for me ;)


  8. Reto.ColdingReto.Colding12-15-2011

    @ OrganicHallucinosis

    Thanx bud, glad you liked the article though its a bit more entertainment than info ;)

    We’ll try and stay classy :)


  9. samthegreat4samthegreat412-17-2011

    Nice piece of text Colding, I like your style! :D
    But eh, I guess that there is gonna be a maximum speed for where a soldier can jump out, make the roll and still be not dead. Right?

  10. Reto.ColdingReto.Colding12-17-2011

    Thanx Sam .. indeed there will be a max speed :) I mean .. were not making marvel soldiers ;)


    • samthegreat4samthegreat412-19-2011

      Haha, luckily! :P

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