Exposure Sheets

NICK-Flavio-sheets_Page_15 In television 2d animation, Exposure sheets are created by the Animation Director and they serve as a way to tell the animators what happens and where. It is a very complicated process combining math and animation experience because you’re not animating with drawings, you animating with numbers. It’s almost impossible to become a Director without previous knowledge of animation and how a film is physically put together because you need to understand pacing, squash and stretch, anticipation, background pans, and be able to add on a 16 base instead of a 10 base. It’s not for the beginner.

On top of that, due to very tight schedules most storyboard artists do not have enough time to pose out all the character’s nuances when acting and speaking and they frequently put an entire paragraph of dialog under one pose even though the scene calls for 12 poses and it’s the Animation director’s job to add those acting poses. Some beginner storyboard artists do not hook up drawings from one scene to the next so it is also the Animation Director’s job to add these drawings on the sheets as well. The sheets are given to the director with the entire soundtrack phonetically written down on huge sheets of 11×17 paper. From there the director takes the storyboard and the animatic and proceeds to break down the action frame by frame as to what is going on in each scene and at what frame. As stated above, in animation math is calculated on 16′s and not on 10′s.  Frames of film are counted by the foot so 1 second equals 1 foot and 8 frames of film. and 3 feet of film is 2 seconds.  4 feet 8 frames is 3 seconds of film and so on.  There are many short cut terms that are used in Exposure sheets such as:

  • antic: this is an anticipation, it’s the action just before a character starts to move because in real life kinetics there has to be an anticipation in all movement.
  • stl: stands for ”settle” the action when the character is about to rest from the action he just did.
  • cush: stands for “cushion”. Another way to explain a character settling to a stop but usually it’s reserved for a settle from a larger action.
  • ovs: stands for “overshoot”. The reaction after a big move where the character thrusts his arm outwards, then overshoots past where he wants to go and finally settles to the position.
  • cycle: An action where the character’s last drawing cycles through to the first drawing over and over to create a repeat action and save drawings.
  • X: represents a frame of film
  • Ft: represents feet of film.
  • Bg Pan: represents when the background is moving. Usually during this time the character stays in one position and the background moves behind him.
  • Squash: Just as it implies, it is the action of squashing the character down. Sometimes also used as an antic. This along with Stretch are the foundations of animation.
  • Stretch: the reaction to Stretch, you really don’t see Stretch and Squash separately for the most part. they usually go hand in hand.

If the storyboard calls for Flavio to walk into the scene, grab a piece of cake and swallow it, the action would go like this:

Flavio walks into scene on 10′s (He takes 5 steps; 10 frames for each step). 10x 10x 10x 10x 10x/cush for 6x/ stl for 4 frames/ antic 6x/ reach and grab/ 6x/ pull cake to mouth 4x/ antic hand to toss 4x/ toss in mouth/ 4x/ chew on 24x cycle for 3 ft.

Below are some examples of exposure sheets I’ve done over the years:

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