How to Achieve Lifelike Animation
Article by coolasice11

Getting good looking life-like animation is an art, much like getting a painting to look lifelike.  The more you practice animating, the better it will look (hopefully).  There's no magic formula, but here's some tips that I've learned over the years:

Ease in and Ease Out - This means that when something is moving, it starts out slow, gets faster, and then slows down again.  The only exception is when something runs into something else, then it can stop suddenly.

Avoid Jitter - Jitter is basically when you accidentally bump the minifig when you're trying to move it's arm or head or something and you try correct it in the next frame.  GET RID OF THAT! If you accidentally bump the minifig, do your best to put it back where it was with the onion skin.  However, if you don't have onion skin, you will have to do your best to reposition the object with respect to the last frame.  Then, in the next few frames, continue that same motion but ease it out.

Play Stuff Back All The Time - Whenever, I capture a new frame, I play back the animation from the beginning to see if it all looks good and flows well.  Sometimes, I'll go a few frames before playing the animation back, but I'm constantly playing it back.  If it doesn't look good, throw it away.

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE - Take a look at my earlier films...  Everyone gets better over time as they practice more and more.
- Stan the Lego Man

Anticipation - This is when a minifig is going to raise his arm and he moves his arm back a little bit before he brings it forward. The more forceful the movement he is about to take, the more anticipation is needed.

Bounceback - This is when after the minifig raises his arm, he puts it down and the arm swings back and forth. It's basically the opposite of anticipation. Again, the more force in the movement, the more bounceback.

Inertia - This is when the minifig's arm is raised and the body moves back a little. Other parts of the minifig are following the primary movement. This is also known as secondary movement. Moving the arms while walking is another example of this.