Run and walks are the bread and butter of video game animators and unfortunately I hadn’t found a good source of references on that topic in the past.
Until today, I wasn’t bothered and used treadmill references since that’s mainly what they have been doing at Pixar from Monsters Inc to Up so if it is good for them, it should be good for me, but it is said that treadmill runs are actually different from the real thing.
My understanding of physics is so basic that I can’t see why it would be any different (does anyone actually understands inertia or references frames?) so I decided to do some research and was lucky to find two great references of World record marathon runner Haile Gebrselassie. One of him on a treadmill and a second one shot during a marathon. I didn’t spend too much time on walks since everybody’s walk is unique and I am pretty sure the difference would be too subtle.
Before you watch the videos and make up your mind, one thing I should mentioned is that the treadmill run was only a 4 minutes run and he was wiping his face with the towel in front of him few frames before the beginning of the footage. You can find the link to the original footage below. The video on the right is a real marathon race.
Here is a Vimeo version if you prefer
What can we notice?
The upper body is possibly slightly bent forward on the road race but I don’t think there is a real difference for the back leg to be honest, at least not at 30fps.
For runs, I would suggest people to pay attention to the running style instead and get to learn about the Pose Method.
The Pose method is dramatically different than a regular run since you hit the road with the ball of your foot rather than the heel so your calf muscle plays the role of a shock absorber rather than the sole of your expensive trainers and your knee joint, leading to less joint stress/pain. Hum it looks like I should do an other video showing regular runs compared to Pose ones ;-)
As animators we are having a tough time to understand runs but don’t worry…. so do runners!
This guy found out that depending on the brand of shoes he is wearing, or not wearing, he would hit the ground in a different manner, check out those great references: