Online Spring 2024 Session

March 25th, 2024

April 8th, 2024

ANIM: Creature Weight for VFX

Tom Gibbons


Animation Supervisor
Tippett Studios

Length of Workshop: 10 weeks. Once a week.
Days: Thursdays starting April 11th, 2024
Time: 6pm to 9pm pacific time *special time*
Tuition: $1,600 (Includes a $200 non-refundable registration fee)
Prerequisite: NONE


Creature Weight for VFX:

This class will focus on “manipulating weight”.
diving into and understanding Gravity, Physics, and Bio-mechanics, and then Breaking them for Clarity, Impact, and Story. 
why do we perceive a Lion as a Lion and a House Cat as a Cat? they both move almost identically, “context, prejudice and assumptions” play a big roll in how audiences see. 
have you ever studied a horse as it runs? the frequency of the muscles tightening and releasing. or study the hands and the eyes of different humans as they pace in a small room?
How is a 100lbs human that runs into a wall different than a 300lbs human,.. or a 2000lbs one?
Gravity, Physics, and Bio-Mechanics can inform the artist (animator) Why these things look like they do. But Science is no substitute for “appeal”; the goal is to know and then forget.


  • Week 1: The Nature of Gravity
    a. The Bouncing Ball example (squash & stretch)
    a. The Froud number
    b. bone vs. ligament
    c. Predator vs. herbivore vs. reptile 
    Persistance of Vision & 24fps
    a. The ramifications of presenting animation in a “limited” medium

  • Week 2: Cat (quadruped Walk)
    Learn the foot pattern (walk, lope,  trot, gallop (run)
    Bio-mechanics of Cat skeleton

  • Week 3: Critique and adjust Cat perf.— Then Cat into Lion
    Take that Cat walk, turn it into a Lion
    Learn Scale, Timing adjustments, and environmental effects.

  • Week 4: critique Lion make adj: — Lion into Monster
    Take that Lion and make a Monster
    How to believably exaggerate using the bio-mechanics and physics already learned & add appeal and character.

  • Week 5: Human male smash into a wall (trying to open a locked door)
    The physics of Muscles Engaged & Muscles relaxed
    Take a human and run them at the door, smash into the door, and fall back to the ground
    The challenge: to start an Action, maintain the Action, and have the Action ended by a conflict (i.e. The door)

  • Week 6: Critique performance:
    make adjustments 

  • Week 7: Critique Human adjust and transfer performance to Muscle Man rig and adjust for weight.  Put the Human scale performance on a Troll/Large-scale Human.

  • Week 8:

  • Week 9:

  • Week 10:


Reel Review –  Confidence in your Advanced Mechanics is recommended.

* Creature Weight for VFX is limited to 10 students for maximum individualized focus. We encourage a comfortable, collaborative environment so that students can learn from their assignments, the critiques of others, instructor demos, lectures, and guest speakers.