Watch: The 12 basic principles of Disney animation magic

Disney's animation tricks-of-the-trade come to the Web in a video take of the classic book "The Illusion of Life"

Sarah Gray
May 7, 2014 6:15PM (UTC)

"The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation," written by two of Disney's Nine Men, is out of print. But that hasn't stopped it from making its way to the Internet in GIF and video form.

The 12 principles of animation established by Disney animators, including Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, have been represented time and time again in classic films. Though digital animation is now the standard -- it was "The Wonderful World of Disney" that first inspired current president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios Ed Catmull to be an animator.


In the video below, the actual principles in "The Illusion of Life," by Johnston and Thomas, have been animated. "These principles came as a result of reflection about their practice and through Disney's desire to use animation to express character and personality," Vimeo user Cento Lodigiani wrote. "This movie is my personal take on those principles, applied to simple shapes."

As Fast Company points out, these 12 principles are like the laws of physics for animation. The exaggerated movements help create the illusion of realism.


h/t The Verge, Fast CompanyThe Illusion of Life from Cento Lodigiani on Vimeo.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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Animation Cool Culture Disney Innovation Technology Video

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