Here I want to work on the beginning of the Fox's unwinding, slowing it down, making it more interesting, and making sure it works well with the little "take" or reaction of the man to the tail movement.
Therefore I will only be showing the first part of the scene in this post.
Here is the first pass at improving the start of the unwind:
I feel this doesn't work as well as it might because, although I have added some drawings to the tail movement to slow it down from the original, the man's reaction still distracts from the more important movement that I want the viewer to observe (that is, the fox shaking himself out).
What else might be done here? What else is in our animator's toolbox? Well, it occurs to me that I could add an anticipation to the tail unwinding. This would not only make the movement more dramatic and suspenseful, but it would also add the extra time to the movement that I am looking for.
So I erase those few drawings--they are simple ones and not hard to replace--and begin again with a snappy anticipation.
Here is how that looks:
Okay! I am happy with this; it is exactly the effect I wanted to achieve:
-The man's reaction seems to come at a natural time, as soon as he feels something moving.
-The anticipation works well to draw your attention to the tail, and it lasts long enough that by the time the man has come to rest, the viewer is ready to focus on the main business of the fox unwinding, and he hasn't missed anything important
A note on the anticipation:
I want to draw your attention to something a bit unusual about the anticipation. Here are the key drawings: 1, 13, 17 and 25, shown with 2 spacing guides.
Note that I use Disney-style numbering, where the drawing numbers are also frame numbers whenever possible. Thus, if drawing numbers are all odd numbers, it means the drawings are being shot on 2's. (This technique is best described by Richard Williams in his book The Animator's Survival Kit.)
Drawings 1 thru 13 comprise the actual anticipation--the movement that telegraphs and often opposes the forward movement. Nothing unusual here; as the spacing guide shows, we ease out and ease in.
But I have dwg 13 hold for 4 frames (at 24 frames per second), so that the next drawing and number is 17. Again, there are no drawings between 13 and 17. This gives the movement its snap. Also, I am playing with the apparent variable volume you get with hair or fur, where it can appear to be a smaller mass when wet or otherwise compressed. Therefore 17 shows the hair suddenly all spread out.
The remaining inbetweens that fill in between 17 and 25 are a conventional ease in as the tail fur collapses down again.
Next: Shakin' It Out