Skip To Content
Basic Physics for Animators is a Course

Basic Physics for Animators

Ended Feb 15, 2016

Sorry! The enrollment period is currently closed. Please check back soon.

Full course description

Course Date:

Jan 11 - Feb 15, 2016


5 weeks


2-3 hrs/week



Course Type:





As an animation artist, why do you need to know physics? Chuck Jones once said, “We must all start with the believable. That is the essence of our craft.” This course will show you how to create believable motion and when to break the laws of physics.


This self-paced course covers the basic concepts in physics that are most useful for animation artists. By the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Create physically accurate timing and spacing for falling motion (and without using equations)
  • Recognize common paths of action and know when they occur in Nature
  • Appraise the physical accuracy of timing and spacing for parabolic and circular arcs
  • Use of the Law of Inertia to create follow-through and drag that is physically believable
  • Interpret timing, spacing, and path of action in terms of forces and the Law of Acceleration
  • Distinguish force from pressure and recognize situations where motion due to a pressure difference
  • Identify the characteristics of cyclic motion such as period, frequency, amplitude, and speed
  • Differentiate various types of free rotation such as spinning, tumbling, and wobbling
  • Apply the animation principle of Squash and Stretch to create believable motion

As a capstone assignment you'll create a short animation (10-30 seconds) using the concepts learned in the course.

Course Instructors

Alejandro Garcia

Alejandro Garcia

Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Professor Alejandro Garcia teaches physics to animation artists at San Jose State University. He has also been a physics consultant with DreamWorks Animation SKG, working on films such as Madagascar 3 and Mr. Peabody and Sherman.