The LMA Framework
Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) and Labanotation stem from the same historical root and are based on the same theoretical framework.
Labanotation, is a comprehensive notation system for recording the structural features of human movement, attending to spatial
direction, pathway, floor pattern and degrees of flexion, extension and rotation of individual joints. This system is exemplified
by the Dance Notation Bureau in New York whose work is primarily oriented to the documentation of dance choreography. LMA includes
the quantitative analysis but additionally addresses qualitative changes of movement in space and time as well as qualitative
analysis of dynamic elements of movement expression.
In the context of this project we focus on LMA. Using LMA, one can systematically look at a unit or phrase of movement in terms of
the four major movement components of Body, Effort, Shape and Space. These basic components can be identified and examined alone and
in relationship to each other to form phrases that are perceived as "meaningful" by someone watching them. The components are seen
as "irreducible", meaning that they are the smallest units needed in describing an observed movement. LMA provides analytic tools
for identifying patterns of movement expression that signify both cultural and personal styles. By understanding these elements we
can begin to more effectively appreciate what human beings have in common and how each of us is unique.
In the following we briefly summarize these LMA components:
LMA component: "Effort"
EFFORT is the dynamic quality of the movement, the feeling tone, the texture, how the energy is being used. Effort reflects the
mover's attitude toward investing energy in four basic Effort Factors: Flow, Time, Weight and Space. Effort change is generally
associated with change of mood or emotion and, hence, is an inroad to expressivity. Each effort factor can have different degrees
of intensities (values along a continuous range) between opposing poles. In the following we enumerate the four different Effort
1) The Effort Factor Flow is the base line of "goingness", the continuity of the movement out of which the other effort elements
emerge and return. Flow is frequently related to feelings, either outpouring or containing them. This is a key factor in the
expressive aliveness of the movement. The two opposing poles are called Free Flow and Bound Flow:
High Intensity Bound Flow
High Intensity Free Flow
Controlled, contained, restrained, careful, keeping the inside in or the outside out.
Examples: Trying to do something perfectly-worried motion.
Outpouring, fluid, released, liquid, letting the inside out or the outside in.
Examples: Outpouring joy when the team is winning-"YES"
2) The Effort Factor of Weight is understood as the sensing factor, - sensing the physical mass and its relationship to gravity.
The Weight factor is often lost in the animation process. This loss contributes to the animation lacking a sense of groundedness
High Intensity Light
High Intensity Strong
Gentle, delicate, fine touch, buoyant
Example: Touching somebody as if your hands were feathers.
Powerful, forceful, firm touch, impactful
Example: Pushing a car.
3) The Effort Factor of Time has to do with your inner attitude toward the time you have, not how long it takes to do the movement,
not quantitative measure of duration.
High Intensity Sudden
High Intensity Sustained
Has a sense of urgent, quick, instantaneous, staccato.
Example: "I only have five minutes to finish my exam."
Has a quality of stretching the time, indulging in the use of it, leisurely, gradual, lingering, prolonging.
Examples:"I still have five whole minutes to finish my exam."
4) The Effort Factor of Space addresses the quality of active attention to the environment. It doesn't deal with the place in space
and it shouldn't be confused with one of the mayor components of the movement, the Space component. (As we mentioned before there
are four major movement componets: Body, Effort, Shape and Space). The two opposite poles are Direct and Indirect .
High Intensity Direct
High Intensity Indirect
Giving attention single focused, channelled, pinpointed, laser-like
Examples: Putting a contact lens into your eye.
Giving active attention to more than one thing at once, multi-focused, flexible attention, all- around awareness, all- encompassing
Example: Taking-in a beautiful natural vista
Generally, Effort Qualities appear in groups of two, known as States, three, known as Drives and occasionally four Effort combinations.
These characteristic combinations and how they phrase and sequence is an important part of a "Movement Signature."
Though current motion capture and animation technologies have made certain strides in simulating this subtle dynamic range,
the need for more sophisticated approaches is essential if life-like human motion is to be recorded.
LMA Component: "Body"
The category of BODY addresses issues of the orchestration of body parts. The system identifies phrases of initiation,
follow-through and resolution. It address the question "where in the body does the movement begins and how does it follow
through to complete the phrase"? Again we explain these different categories in more detail, since they come often in subtle
form, but are very important, and many computer animations are lacking of these.
Simultaneous. "Do all active body parts move at once? (i.e. head and both hands make an action at the same time)
Successive. "Does the movement of one body part flow successively into the movement of the next adjacent body part?"
(i.e. a succession within one movement phrase: shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand)
Sequential. "Does the movement of one part of the body flow sequentially into other non-adjacent body parts?"
(i.e. , a sequence of movement of non-adjacent body parts within one phrase: head, leg, and arm move- one immediately after the other).
Example: We can move our arm forward in a pointing manner, and the movement can be initiated by the hand, which is dragging the
arm forward, or initiated by the upper arm muscles, which is pushing the rest of the arm forward. This are very subtle
differences, and many computer animations have trouble with conveying initiation.
Furthermore the whole body can be organized from six different connective patterns that have their roots in infant reflexes and
early developmental patterning. These Patterns of Total Body Connectivity are the following:
Breath, includes both cellular and lung respiration and is a key to fluidity of movement and internal shaping.
Core- distal Connectivity, includes developing support from the internal core of the body (core support) and minimizing
over-dependence on external muscles. This patterns also coordinates the relationship of each limb to center core and through
center core to the other limbs and out to the world.
Head-Tail Connectivity builds a sense of the individual self connected through the body's internal vertical. This stage
patterns the ability to give attention to the world and enjoy a flexible, sensuous, supportive spine in all three planes.
It's particularly important for level change.
Body-Half Connectivity- organizes the body to be able to work with one side stable while the other side is mobile;
patterns sidedness functions in the brain, aids in clarifying issues.
Cross- Lateral Connectivity- develops diagonal connections through the body and gradated rotation in the proximal joints
to facilitate full three dimensional movement and ability to spiral with complex level change and locomotion; prepares for
multidimensional relational thinking and commitment to action.
Often in computer animations, humans look robotic, with limbs that seem "disconnected" from their core. This is because
the animator has conceptually thought about single limb movement, without perceiving how that limb is relating through
the core of the body to a Pattern of Total Body Connectivity that is organizing the whole body.
Example: In the previously mentioned arm moving forward, the arm could be going forward initiated with internal connections
through from the core of the body to underneath the scapula with the right leg stepping forward. (This movement can be seen
in the picture of Peggy Hackney on p. 10) this would be a Body-Half Connective Pattern. If the left leg stepped forward, it
would be a Cross-lateral Pattern. Human beings make habitual choices about connective patterns. Again this is a part of
"Movement Signature," and needs to be addressed for life-life animation.
LMA Component: "Shape"
The SHAPE category looks at "What forms does the body make"?, "Is the shape changing in relation to self or in relation to
the environment"? "How is the Shape changing- what is the major quality or element which is influencing its process of change"?
Underlying all shape change is the basic change in the body's form that happens in the process of breathing. This baseline process
of Growing and Shrinking is called Shape Flow Support. Many computer animations are lacking of these, since Shape Flow Support is
often based on subtle nonrigid shape changes that are not supported by current motion capture and animation models. Breath is life!
Without clear ways of capturing and amplifying these subtle shape changes of Widening-Narrowing, Lengthening-Shortening, and
Bulging-Hollowing that occur because of the breath, animation will remain "lifeless."
Modes of Shape Change reveals a variety of inner attitudes and motivations about changing the shape of the body, ranging from
a very self oriented process of shape change to a very external process. This inner attitude need not to be conscious to be
operative. They are called Shape Flow, Directional Movement and Carving. LMA can perceive and notate these changes, which are
also a part of "Movement Signature."
LMA Component: "Space":
The last LMA component, Space, articulates the relationship between the human body and the three dimensional matrix of space.
Space aspects include information about the mover's own personal movement sphere, the Kinesphere, and general space, which is
an important part of characterization or personal style. One person may convey a sense of central radiance, while another conveys
a delicate sense of peripheral boundary, and still another seems to be forever creating a sense of mixing many aspects transversely.
This aspect is generally fairly well-covered in Motion Capture.
Due to space limitations, we only explained a few relevant LMA principles of the large body of work. Our main focus will be on
finding computational representations of LMA Effort, certain aspects of LMA Body and LMA Shape.