Newtonian Penguins


Newtonian Penguins:

A series of penguins emerges from an igloo heading towards a hole in the ice. As each penguin leaves the igloo he slips on the ice and slides on his back feet first towards the others in front who are bunched together in line waiting their turn to jump in the water through the hole. As each sliding penguin bumps into the rear penguin in line the force of his impact is transmitted to the front most penguin who is ejected from the line due to Newton’s laws of motion causing him to slide belly first into the hole. The idea of the animation is to make something both entertaining and educational. Ideally the penguins would be cute, cuddly, and playful (see example below).

The idea comes from a Newtonian cradle which is often used to illustrate Newton’s laws of motion:


Of course Newton’s laws of motion also apply to penguins on slick ice:


Adapting this for 4-Mation to take advantage of animation multiplexing due to it’s sub one second loop:


Simplified animation:


I forgot to mention, one of the nice things about this animation is it combines animation multiplexing with variable timing (speed) of the actor’s motion in each segment of the actors path analogous to how the fish paused before gulping the fish in front:

  1. As each penguin emerges from the igloo and slips it slides quickly until it bumps into the penguins standing in line
  2. Concurrently, the penguins standing in line are slowly shuffling forwards (as penguins do)
  3. Due to the impact on the rear penguin the front penguin is quickly ejected head first
    As a result: a) in the same animation you see characters moving about at different speeds, b) the 20 frames will play 60 times to see it all.
    One detail I didn’t mention: as the front penguin is pushed into the water, the animation would show a prominent “donut” shaped splash surrounding the penguin as he enters the water (ie, done using clear resin). The plash would take 10 or so frames to settle down after the penguin entered the water; the water would be calm by the time the next penguin was pushed into the water. The splashing water is a character element similar to the opening and closing shell in the fish animation.


The other thing I meant to mention is if there are space limiations this would work with as few as only one or two penguins standing in line waiting to enter the water (ie, you wouldn’t need to have 4 penguins as shown in the animation diagram).


That’s a great idea - whimsy, practical for printing, multiplexing, and added happy-feet bonus - that’s going on the short list :slight_smile:


A few other things I meant to mention:

  1. As an alternate layout the line of penguins could be standing close to the hole (instead of half way there) so when the front penguin is ejected from the line instead of landing in his belly and sliding to the hole he dives into the hole (similar to being pushed off a dock: his torso would rotate with his feet going up and his head going down - briefly making his body horizontal to the water - after which his head would drop below his feet as he entered the water). As a result, during the dive the penguin would be briefly air-bone on clear risers similar to how the fish are made to float in the fish eating fish animation.
  2. You could apply “snow” to the carousel template (ie, by lightly spraying it with glue and then sprinkling foam power created by sanding or filing open cell styrofoam). The downside is it could flake off over time and the only way to dust it would be with a blower. The more practical alternative would be to use a photographic carousel cover to simulate ice similar to the sea floor in the fish eating fish carousel cover (which looks great!). Ideally the carousel cover would be coated to make it shiny and give it depth (as you would see with real ice).
  3. To make best use of limited room, similar to the fish eating fish animation the penguins would start out smaller and get bigger as they move towards the periphery (as shown in the illustration).


Here’s an updated somewhat more ambitious version showing the front penguin going airborne over other penguins shuffling about near the water hole. This would look great if you could pull it off:


Going a little over the top here but I couldn’t resist including a “somersault” version (hey, one can dream!).
Click to magnify to full size: