I was sitting in a coffee shop today having a bite to eat when I suddenly started to really notice subtle variations in the way people walk. From what I could tell, most of the variation occurred as a result of differences in the hip movement.
I had a load of things on this subject that I wanted to write about, but for the life of me, I can't remember them! I should take a notebook around with me for such occasions. However one thing that struck me particularly is differences in passing positions. For those who don't know what this is, it's the point in a person's walk where their legs begin to swap positions between being in front of the body and being behind it. I explained this quite a while ago in a previous post.
I noticed that in some people, the hips rotate upwards to accommodate the extra space needed to lift up the passing leg, but in other people, the hips rotate downwards. For example, in some, if the person raises their left leg to take a step, they also lift up the left side of their pelvis. This seems perfectly intuitive. However in other cases, the person may lift their left leg, but lower the left side of their pelvis. Here's an absolutely awful drawing to illustrate what I mean:
Drawing (a) shows a person standing still with hips level. Drawing (b) shows a passing position with the hip rotated upwards as the corresponding leg is lifted. Drawing (c) shows the hip rotating downwards as the leg is lifted.
The thing is, although I could see this difference occurring, I couldn't decide what the cause of it was, so the experimenting scientist in me decided that maybe animating it would give me the answer. So I did that, keeping every other movement in the body the same in both cases.
I subsequently discovered that in the case of (b), which can be seen on the left Batman in the video below, the charater seems to require more effort to walk, making them appear to be carrying more weight. I have exaggerated the movement in this example, causing Batman to look heavily overweight. In case (c), seen on the right Batman, the character feels a bit lighter, like they are having an easier time walking.
NOTE: I have temporarily removed the video from this post because I'm unsure about what Warner Bros copyright allows. I will replace it soon with an animation using a different character.