Keys or Extremes? – The Big difference EXPLAINED!

Richard Williams (author of Animator’s Survival Kit) did not develop the only method to animating, but he IS the ONLY one who used Milt Kahl’s work method. That’s an important aspect to consider for this post.

Now I don’t know any animator who hasn’t come across his bookYet, when I look at how even industry level animators describe key poses and extremes, they often say they’re the same thing. Not quite.

Here are the clearest descriptions of keys vs. extremes that I’ve found:

Key poses are the “Sum-it-up” drawings. They are the bare bones of the shot, the comic strip poses, and the most important drawings. If you go through an animation frame by frame, The poses that most clearly describe the entire shot are the keys.

Extremes are difficult to explain (probably the reason for so much confusion), so I find it easier to add what it’s not.


In a walk cycle, I’d argue that there are no key poses at all (unless someone is walking AND acting). So a walk cycle starts with an extreme and ends with an extreme.

Why does this even matter? Richard Williams says this about it:

“I’ve worked every system, good, bad or half-baked, and experience has convinced me that it’s best -even crucial – to separate the storytelling keys from the extremes and all the other stuff.”

“Separating them out stops us getting tangled up and missing the point of the shot, as we vanish into a myriad of drawings and position.”

Are keys extremes? Technically yes. But I say treat them all as players on basketball team! Your Michael Jordans (keys) are Chicago Bulls (extremes), but most of the Bulls don’t play like the Jordans! So the next time you find yourself with artist’s block during the splining stage, just find your keys and extremes and use them as your guide through all the mess it makes!

Comment if you’ve had similar experiences! Read an online version of the Animator’s Survival Kit here:


How animation is made – basic, intermediate, and advanced!

The basics of animation, we have that. An intermediate 3D version of the animation process, we watch that. An in-depth look into the animation process for Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, we love that. Below, we show three ways to describe the animation process for anyone willing to pay attention!

Basic –


Intermediate –


Advanced –


Eric Goldberg fixes New Animation – TIPS!

Eric Goldberg has some electrifying words of truth for all contemporary animators. Simply put, animation is missing expressive posing. But don’t fret! Following the poison of his truth comes the antidote of legendary tips.


The usual process is: Idea, shooting reference, blocking, splining, and polish. 

Goldberg’s process is : Idea, pre-timing, reference (maybe), etc.

Most contemporary animators create their timing throughout the blocking and splining stages. DON’T DO THIS PEOPLE.

Instead, predict the time it’ll take to perform each step of your animation while it’s still an idea (pre-timing).

Don’t destroy your expressive poses by animating one limb at a time.


Animator’s Survival Kit – First two lectures

I’ve discovered only 2 of these fantastic lectures online, so as long as they exist I will keep them on Regurge for all to see!

Lecture 1 has incredible tips Richard Williams learned while watching Ken Harris, Art Babbitt, and Milt Kahl; the originators of many techniques all animators strive to accomplish everyday.

Lecture 2 covers the elements of timing and spacing in animation. This one does come off as rudimentary, but you will obtain profound knowledge by watching how he teaches it; what he skims over and what he highlights.


John Truby’s Strongest Storywriting Tips

John Truby  breaks down elements found in the most successful film concepts we know of today. He could be talking about Christopher Nolan’s Cobb character from “Inception”, or Bob Parr from Brad Bird’s “The Incredibles”. Hopefully, my animators out there will understand that the most successful animations (whether features, short films,  or 11 second club entries) are the ones who present characters that live outside of the screen time we give them. Once we have that, we can move on to making sure they’re characters that actually entertain other people.

Important tip to note: Allowing the plot to come from the character means giving the story writing to your character, while you just try to copy everything he describes. Don’t force the character into a pre-planned scenario; They’ll never really come alive. 

When Critiquing your peers….


Have you ever given a critique on your friend’s animation and wondered why your excellent suggestions weren’t applied? Maybe you were saying the right things, but at the wrong time. Often times, the following phrase has rung true whenever my peers (including myself) were found on the chopping block:

The closer you get to being finished, the less critiques you want to hear from other people

So you can wish your friend chose your “Zombie Apocalypse alternate ending” idea, but the probability of them going back to 1st keys for your concept may be a bit too much to hope for. As a result, I’ve assembled the Animation Critiquing Poster for anyone to download, apply, or re-use.

Usually, the best way to help your peers is to:

1) Assess what stage they are in

2) Apply critiques that will help them finish the project, without slowing them down

If it’s not good, oh well! It’s better that they finish, so they can move on to another project and make that one into greatness.

The Last Airbender’s 60 page FX Guide



If you’re working on a 2D film that requires a few effects, then these Avatar pages are just for you. This was posted 2 years ago on a site dedicated to hosting all of the greatest effects animation tips and pieces that exist on the internet to date. In addition to the Avatar guide, I’ll also leave a downloadable link to the 207 page pdf full of effects animation notes that Ron Doucet (TV animation director, 14 years of experience) scanned throughout his career.

Avatar effects guide:

Download the 207 page effects design binder here: