Using Annotation Columns

Annotation columns are a tried and tested way of adding pertinent information to an exposure sheet. Pencil Check Pro brings you forward in time by allowing you to digitally add these to your exposure sheet. They are an excellent tool for a developing timing, pacing and dynamic animation.

In this article, you will learn about the content of the annotation column, what to insert in the column and how to effectively use it.

How to Read and Write Annotations

The traditional exposure sheet has a wide column on either the left or the right side, the animator uses this space to draw and indicate actions corresponding to a frame range.

Annotations are created prior to the animation to help breakdown the scene’s timing, actions and pacing. These are used to determine which action occurs at what frame, to create the dynamic and to describe the easing and the speed of each move.

Generally, an annotation column contains:

  • Action Curves
  • Action Descriptions
  • Thumbnail Poses

Action Curves

To breakdown the scene’s timing, he the animator will start by finding the length of every character’s moves and indicate these by placing an X, a double-line or a dot in the annotation column.

Once the main timing is broken down, the animator will trace curves to link the timing indicators. The action curves describe the action peaks and speed.

  • A smooth curve with not much amplitude will indicate a softer motion than a very wide curve.
  • A straight curve will indicate a very quick and dynamic motion without easing.
  • A flat line will indicate a hold in the motion.
  • A shaky line will indicate a very quick or trembling motion.
  • These are general rules for action curves, but they can vary from one animator to the other. Variations to these general rules can work as long as they correctly express the feeling and dynamic of the animation and can be understood by the other animators on the team.

Action Descriptions

After the animator has placed timing breakdown markers in the exposure sheet, a short description of the action happening at the moment also needs to be written. This should contain only a few words, to which a thumbnail pose will be added later.

Thumbnail Poses

Thumbnail poses describe the motion best, after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

The animator inserts thumbnails of descriptive key poses in the annotation column beside the frames where they occur.

Animation sequence poses are often done on a separate sheet of paper while the animator is breaking down the movements, these poses are either cut and pasted or redrawn in the annotation column.