I recently took the time to purchase a copy of Cats Don't Dance online. It's a bit hard to come by, a lovely yet all-too-obscure work.
The animation in this movie is excellent and well worth studying. The storyline is fairly simple (though pleasant, with a nice soundtrack), but the animation artistry is great; it is easy to understand how it managed to win Best Animated Feature Annie in 1997.
So here's another spacing analysis, my third so far.
First the clip, a shot about 100 frames long:
Then my Photoshop magic, to study the spacing:
It's all highly syncopated timing-spacing-wise, which fits to the syncopated accompanying sound track, as well as to a general overall animation timing ideal that closely correlates with the same musical ideal. Perceptually, pleasing and interesting. In spacing, note the corners in path as well as the loops; similarly, in timing, there are offsets of holds and the opposite extreme of smear frames. As I said, calligraphic is an apt description. I've wondered about possibly setting animation to the path of a calligraphic pen before, copperpoint style; this is an excellent correlation to that concept, the best I've seen to-date.
This sort of thing is not easy to do.
I thought I'd also include an examination of some of the more interesting smear frames in the sequence:
The two most extreme, on the right, flip his body through a pretzel-path.
As befitting of a smooth operating-cat.
Smear frames remain one of the greatest points of contention for me with regards to 3D animation. A good rig will be able to handle a degree of the distortions served up by an extreme cartoon style by permitting some stretching or even bending of parts and extremities, but one still tends to run into a brick wall at some point, and I'm not sure whether rendered motion blur could even be capable of pulling off the pretzel example hilighted above (one would need presumably subframe sampling and subframe keys to do it: i.e. a lot of extra work combined with very slow rendering: not an efficient solution). A good smear frame will eliminate strobing and make extreme fast action seem plausible (explicable in part as the mimicking persistence of vision and in part as the emulation of camera motion blur).
If I can manage to identify the animator who did this shot, I'll be sure to update this posting to give the name. (If you happen know, please add a comment with a link for verification) Excellent work!