Weight in Animation
One of the most difficult things in animation is to give the true feeling of weight. This seems to be especially true in 3D where characters often feel like they float rather than have any effect from gravity. The particular pencil test presented here was done for a promo for a show called "Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century" that Filmation was pitching back in 1986. The assignment, as it was explained to me by the director, was that this was the climatic scene in the show. It had to play well and give a true feeling of struggle and doom. This is Moriarty dragging Sherlock Holmes, who is unconscious, to the edge of the top of a large tower in order to throw him off to his death. At the last minute a beam of light shines down and blinds Moriarty who drops Sherlock and he himself trips and falls off the tower.
I acted the scene out many times trying to imagine how I would drag someone about my own size. The idea that having him pull, twist, and hesitate because the weight kept pulling him back down seemed, to me, to give more of a feeling of desperation and dramatic build up. I also thought that having Moriarty hold him up and talk right into his face just before he was about to plunge him over the edge gave a nice revengeful feeling to Moriarty's character. Having the cape blowing in the wind also added to the drama.
Though I had done plenty of scenes where weight needed to be considered this was truly the most difficult scene I ever had to do where not only did it have to be considered but it played a crucial roll in how effective the scene was. It also was one of the rare times when a director told me to take the time I needed to get it right. I worked on this scene for 2 weeks (10 days) and when I turned it in the director was thrilled and personally took it to the assistant department to be sure it was handled by the best people.