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In your average piece of animation, how many of the frames are key frames drawn by the animator, and how many are drawn by an inbetweener?

Even a small difference would have a huge impact; for example, having about a third of the frames be keys is a little over half the work for the animators compared to having half the frames be key frames, so this would obviously have a huge impact on budget, as fewer keys means you don't need as many key animators. I feel like a third or a fourth of frames being keys is probably average, but I haven't been able to find anything to support or debunk this hunch.

Anyone working in the anime industry, or familiar enough with it to give me a ballpark?

  • It is easy to find figures for the number of "cuts" per episode (around 300), and for the number of total drawn frames per episode (around 3000). But it is strangely difficult to find any key animators reporting the typical number of keyframes they draw per cut (I spent about an hour looking). – senshin Oct 22 '16 at 23:04
  • I would imagine that key frames done by the lead animator as opposed to in between frames would vary based on the scope and budget of the project, and the input of the director or producer. As @senshin stated, self reported stats by lead animators is........quite scarce. On a side note: Can anyone tell me why on every other stack, it shows my username "NZKshatriya" but here it's showing my real name? just curious. – NZKshatriya Oct 24 '16 at 6:52
  • I think the ratio would vary greatly depending on the budget and the type of anime. For example, action anime with enough budget would have more key frames compared to romance anime of the same budget. – 絢瀬絵里 Nov 5 '16 at 11:27
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The answer is relatively simple when looking only at the ratio (ie. not at the number of keyframes over the course of an episode or minute of anime).

Since keyframes are used at the start and the end of a smooth transition, each movement, or transition, only has 2 keyframes, regardless of how many people or objects are moving over a period of time.

From clicking around on Wikipedia's Keyframe page we get that a movement can be drawn in about 12 frames. With frame 1 and 12 being keyframes, the rest are inbetweens, resulting in a 1:6 ratio of keyframes/inbetweens, where the ratio can move to 1:12 if the movement/transition takes a full 24 frames, or may even drop down to 1:3 (for example) if additional keyframes are introduced successively in order to complete different motions starting and ending at different times.

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