Ones vs. Twos


Shooting on ones and shooting on twos means that you either take one frame of film per movement or two frames of film per movement during an action. Shooting on twos DOES NOT MEAN that the entire action is performed over a longer distance – the timing does not change. It simply means that you moved the puppet 1/2 as many times to perform the action as you would have had you shot the action on ones. On the flip side – if you shot on ones, you would have moved the puppet twice as many times than if shooting on twos.


The below ball moves the same distance in 1 sec (24 frames per second on film – this differs from NTSC video which is 30 fps). If shot on ones, we’ll move the ball into 24 different positions and capture one frame per position. If shot on twos, we’ll move the ball into 12 different positions and capture two frames per position. The spacing on ones will be closer together than on twos since we need to cover the same amount of ground in 1 second.

(the red circles on TWOS, EVEN SPACING represent the positions that have been omitted.)


The illusion of movement in film only works if there is a continuous, flicker-less image. For example, there are multiple pictures of a puppet. In each new photo the puppet has slight shifts in his pose. Move those pictures in a certain order at a certain speed without flicker and the brain can easily ignore the image gaps- Voilà! the puppet looks like it is moving. However, if the spaces in between movements are too large or the action happens to quickly, it is hard for the brain to properly register a movement.

Let’s take an example of a puppet running across the screen. The run will take 1/2 a second to enter from one end of the shot and exit on the other. Since 1 second = 30 frames, 1/2 second = 15 frames. In both instances the puppet would cover the same distance in the same amount of time at the same running speed, but shooting the run on twos means that we will end up with 7 different pictures (each captured twice) while we would have to create 15 pictures (each captured once) if we shot the run on ones. In the end, the movement looks best on ones because we are supplying the viewer’s brain with more information (more pictures) on how the movement unfolds.


Notice how each ball covers the same amount of ground in the same amount of time. The timing has not changed, only the spacing has changed.

Ones, Even Spacing

Twos, Even Spacing


There is a big debate amongst animators as to which shooting style is better. You will find most use a combination of shooting on ones and twos. Those who have more time, are purists, or strive to derive an exceptionally smooth movement tend to shoot on ones when they can. Some feel that shooting on ones slows them down and takes the joy out of animating, so they shoot on twos whenever they can, reserving ones for only very fast movements – like running. Since time is money, production companies shoot mostly on twos.

The animations you produce within the first couple of weeks will help you figure out which type of animator you are.

2 thoughts on “Ones vs. Twos

  1. Tony says:

    Great info thank you! Very helpful, finally got the million dollar question answered after scrolling through youtube for days!

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