Frame-by-Frame Breakdown

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Frame 1 - This is the "A" pose or starting pose. The "B" pose would be the final pose, or Frame 10. Dash was happy because he thought he was headed for freedom, but that is about to change as another Velocipod appears before him. The eyes, brows and mouth are all built from simple curves. Note how the shapes of the upper lids echo those of the brows, and how the entire expression is asymmetrical. Also note the slightly dilated pupils, which make the character look a little happier and more appealing.
Frame 2 - The expression change starts in the brows, which are changing shape in addition to lowering. The simple curves in Frame 1 have turned into angular shapes as the inner part of the brow leads the change. We humans have more motor control over our inner brows than our outer brows, so that's the part that moves the most. The mouth is also starting to close and widen slightly; you could say it is trailing the brows by a "half-frame".
Frame 3 - Now the rest of the face is starting to follow along. As the inner brows start to reverse their curves from Frame 1, the upper lids are now starting to compress, making them feel physically related to the brows. Their curves are still simple, though, to accentuate the roundness of the eyeballs they are gliding over. Notice also that the lower lids and cheeks are starting to push up into the eyes to add to the overall squash. As the mouth closes it also widens, giving it a sense of squash & stretch.
Frame 4 - This is what I would call the "Extreme Squash" pose or breakdown. The brows and eyes have reached their extreme poses; the brows eased in, but the eyelids closed with a fast-in, giving them a feeling of collision. Notice how the closed lids mirror the S shapes of the brows. This complex curve gives them more tension, and suggests that there are forces acting on them from two different directions. You can feel the brows pushing down on the inner lids and the cheeks pushing up on the outer lids. The mouth and nose are also squashed, though the mouth has not reversed it's curve yet.
Frame 5 - Now the brows are easing out of the squash towards the "B" pose. The inner brows lead the change, softening the shapes. The eyelids continue to push down and the mouth continues to flatten. This gives a bit of overlap to the face so that not all the parts move at the same rate.
Frame 6 - Boom! The brows shoot upward as the face starts to stretch with surprise. They are again in simple curves, with the middles arched like arrows pointing upward. The eyes remain closed one more frame to give them a sense of "stickiness", but their seams have risen and their curves reversed to suggest that the brows are pulling them up. The mouth finally reverses its curve and starts to move south as the whole face moves into a stretch.
Frame 7 - Pop! The eyelids spring open. They do a fast-out as if they were forcibly yanked up by the brows. The brows continue up slightly, overshooting the "B" pose. The mouth is reversed into a frown but is still closed. It starts to narrow as the jaw stretches, giving it a sense of volume preservation. Note the shrinkage of the pupils AND irises. Real human irises don't shrink, of course, but this is animation and it makes for a clearer, more extreme attitude. Normally this and the following frame would be considered "off-model" for Dash, since it doesn't really look like him any more. I can get away with this because it's happening in a fast action. I would never hold a pose this extreme.
Frame 8 - You can't see it here, but the brows are starting to ease out of their extreme up position just as the eyes arrive at theirs. The entire face is stretched now, and the mouth finally pops open. It trails behind the eyes by one frame - close enough to make the face feel like a single unit, but delayed enough to give it its own sense of mass and reaction time. The lips are posed in simple curves, and note the drag on the tip of the tongue. I could have delayed the curve reversal of the lower lip for another frame to give it some drag, but I wanted it feel more springy, and I like seeing the bottom teeth right away. In the final film rendering the eyes have been widened, probably because this extreme shape was further exaggerated by the black eye mask.
Frame 9 - The whole face is starting to settle into the "B" pose. Everything is easing in at this point, even the pupils and irises.
Frame 10 - "B" pose at last. It's not much different than Frame 9, and that's good because it allows us to read the pose for a few frames before the cut to the next shot.

A Few More Notes...

In the above breakdown I primarily focused on the action of the brows, eyes and mouth, but there are things happening elsewhere in the head as well. The entire head squashes and stretches, hitting extremes on frames 5 and 8, respectively (trailing the brows by a frame). The head also nods and turns slightly, giving the nose a downward arc across the shot. There's some left-right action inn the jaw to give it an arc as well. In retrospect I probably could have gotten the shoulders and neck more involved too, but I was focused on the face, which was the point of the shot.

The timing of this shot is roughly broken up as follows: 5 frames of getting into the squash (anticipation), 3 frames of stretching (action) and 2 frames of settle (follow-through). By making the action faster and larger than the anticipation I gave it emphasis, and the variation in timing overall gives the shot texture. Try to put this kind of asymmetrical timing into every movement your character does.


That's the end of this walkthrough tutorial. I hope it has given you a clearer understanding of how lead and follow, squash and stretch, shape changes and timing can play a role in your facial animation, just as in the rest of your animation.