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Let's take a look at how Disney animation works so well

For the better part of a century, the name Disney has been synonymous with great animation. But, for those of us not versed in the technical side of the craft, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes Disney-produced films and television stand out from the rest. A new video essay from YouTuber kaptainkristian attempts to explain these finer technical points to the layman by breaking down the 12 principles of animation established by original Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

On their own, each of these principles seem like no-brainers. Even someone with no artistic ability can understand how each one contributes to the fluidity and natural feel of the finished product. For example, characters should anticipate their movements slightly rather than starting from an absolute zero. Movement should have an “ease in and ease out” motion to it, with more frames at the beginning and end of a character’s arc. Speaking of arcs, movement should always be in an arc shape as straight lines are less common in nature.


But it’s when all these techniques begin to work in tandem and overlap with one another that the magic of Disney animation really comes through. These 12 principles establish a solid foundation and give animators a good jumping off point with some natural-appealing characters. After that, they just add a little fairy dust and voila.

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About the author

Dan Neilan

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Have Fun — Will Travel.