Lets look at an example......
At the start the only force is coming from gravity, its keeping the branch in its place on the ground.So now I introduce a second force, its coming mainly from the muscles in my torso, so that's our source. But remember our rule, the tip of the dragging object will try to stay where it is for as long as it can. It waits until the very last minute when the connection between it and the source is pulled tight before moving. The heavier the tip is the more pronounced this will be, you can see there is still some bend near the base of the branch, if I tied some bricks to the end of the branch I would have to pull until the branch was much straighter before they would move. Few, finally got the tip off the ground, isn't that a great arc. My body is almost all the way forward, the tip of the dragging object points back to its original position.
At this stage my body has stopped moving forward, the tip of the branch is only half way over my head. This "S" shape is common in the second half of an action with drag, when I was an inexperienced animator I found this position easy to get to, but then hard to animate out so that the object ended up straight or flat again without looking stiff, I'll elaborate on this a bit later.
Here my body is moving up, but the dragging object is still only two thirds of the way through the original movement, the timing of the source (me) and the dragging object (the branch) are offset. Having these connected things moving in different directions at the same time can look amazing if you nail it. When done well, its the sort of thing that can send a shiver down your spine as you watch it.
I've completed the original movement forward and have had time to straighten up before the tip of the branch finally arrives on the ground.So now that we all understand what drag is, lets have a look at how I animate it. Just recently I've posted some links to blogs where animators have described their work process, while they have been interesting they have been very long (even for a seasoned ranter like myself) and there is often so much detail that you loose sight of the big picture. So I thought for this part I would take a leaf out of Jason Ryan's book and swap over to video tutorial mode.
So now for some live action examples, these clips are from Youtube, but I have put them up on my box.net account as quicktime files so you can pause the quicktime player and flick through the frames one at a time with the left and right arrow keys.. This first one I saw some time back on the Spline Doctors Blog, its amazing. Slow motion really helps with this stuff, who would have thought that there would be more bend in a baseball bat than in a golf club.
It can be parts of people that drag too.
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