Help with math(s)

UPDATE: I originally prepared this post before others working on the Web Animations spec assured me they would find a solution. I posted it password-protected for their sake not realising it would show up on planet! Sorry! Anyway, here is the original post for those who were curious. There are already some folks working on this, but other input may still be useful!

One of the limitations of CSS and SVG animations is that you can’t do a bouncing effect. That is, you can’t easily do this:

Bouncing in SVG. Click the circle to restart.
(If the image fails to show, try this link: http://people.mozilla.org/~bbirtles/blog/bouncing.svg.)

You can emulate it (as above), but it really should be the job of the timing function to do this kind of easing.

In Web Animations we’ve been trying to address this. At first I tried creating a simple smoothing function where you’d specify a series of points and it interpolates smoothly between then. This proved more complex than expected so I narrowed the problem down to just spring-like animations.

It’s easy to generate a spring-like function—I found a sine wave plus exponential dampening plus some scaling of the period does ok, but in terms of parameterisation I think you probably want the following handles:

overshoot
How far past the target value to reach on the first cycle of the spring-like motion. 1.5 means overshoot by 50% (when exposed to CSS and SVG, this parameter might be exposed as just ‘50%’ instead of 1.5). This is particularly useful if, for example, you’re animating something inside a container and want to be sure the effect won’t fall outside the bounds of the container.
elasticity
How much should it bounce back and forwards before converging on the target value? Higher numbers mean more bouncing. After discussing with the others working on Web Animations spec, this may or may not be the most suitable parameter. If at all possible however we want to reduce the number of parameters to avoid being as complex as QML.

Parameterising the spring function in those terms proved a bit beyond my mathematical abilities. I made the following prototype but it’s all kinds of clumsy.

If the iframe above doesn’t appear, try this link: http://jsfiddle.net/CZ3Kn/11/embedded/result/.
Note that it won’t work in Internet Explorer since IE doesn’t support SVG animation.

Problems:

  • Doesn’t work in all ranges. For example, for an overshoot of 5, the second peak is higher than the first. An overshoot of 1 also doesn’t work.
  • The first part of the curve (on the initial path to the overshoot value) seems wrong—sometimes there are lumps or kinks in it.

Rough requirements for the function, f(x):

  • overshoot is a value in the range [1,∞)
  • elasticity — not even sure if this is the right parameter. It would probably be ideal if elasticity of 1 simply made the animation go to the overshoot value and then return to 1 without any bouncing. A value of 2 might make it overshoot once, dip below 1, then return on 1.
  • For 0 ≤ x ≤ 1 the global(?) maximum of the function is overshoot and this should also be the first maximum in the range
  • f(0) = 0 and f(1) = 1
  • When elasticity is high or overshoot is high it should probably reach the overshoot value sooner since the bounce component will take longer to complete
  • The function should probably not go negative initially, unless overshoot > 2 in which case it might be ok.
  • Not sure if the first part should be ease-in.

As I said, there are already some folks working on this, but if you want to have a try you can fork the fiddle above and hack away. Alternatively, there is an Excel spreadsheet or OpenDocument spreadsheet version.

On the other hand, if you think this is not the most useful function or something more general is possible, feel free to suggest that too!

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