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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Show acting, not just action

This is a question I got and I thought it was a very good question:

Hey JD,

I was reading Cameron Miyasaki's interview and there was
this one thing he says "make sure you animate emotion and attitude and not
action. More important than what the character is saying is how the character is
saying it. It's a subtle difference in the way you approach a scene, but it's
the difference between just simply animating and acting."

This might be
a silly question, but I dont think I quite get what he is saying. Could you
explain it a little further?

I really want to make a longer post about it with examples, but that will take some time.
In the meantime, here the gist of it (at least how I see it):

- how you say something makes a world of difference. Take "I love you.", which I say to my wife a thousand times a day. :)
But she can exactly tell what I mean and how I mean it by the way I'm saying it. It can be a heartfelt and honest way, it can also be in a "Yeah, sure, whatever you want sweetie." way. It can be a "We're still friends, right?", or "You're the best thing that's ever happened to me." way. It all depends on the tone of voice, the emotion and attitude behind it. It can vary depending on how I look at here with just my eyes, or a head tilt, or a hand gesture.

So when you have a dialogue piece, you have to think beyond the mechanics. It's more than just "Okay, he's saying "NOW!" so I have to get an "N" shape, mixed with a wide "AH" and transition that into an "OO". That's just animating. Go rent "24" and watch how Kiefer Sutherland says "Now!" (you can't miss it). In fact, every character yells "Now!" at least once. But it will be different for each character.

Or watch this funny clip of Shia saying "No" over and over:



Even though it's repetitive, there are differences. The action is the same, but once you start changing emotions and attitudes, the meaning will change.

And that goes beyond what the character is saying, it's important for all the actions of your character. That's why I ask you guys all the time why your character is lifting the box (or whatever other action your character is doing), has he done it before, who is the guy, where is he, etc.? You have to make a decision about who your character is and in what situation because that will determine his emotion and attitude. A guy lifting a box of beer can be animated differently. It could be a delivery boy and he's tired of lifting those heavy boxes all day and doesn't care about the alcohol, or it's a guy arriving at a party and he can't wait to get drunk. The way they will handle the box will be completely different and that's what your animation has to show, it has to show acting instead of just action.

4 comments:

Amrit Derhgawen said...

Nice explanation JD! Makes so much sense. Yep, storytelling is really the king and everything else are subordinates, glitters and glamors, in the humble service of storytelling. Thanks for the great post.

Cheers! :-)
-A

Brett Davis Animation said...

That's cool ... but very funny at same time.

Joey Kim said...

No no no no no NOOOO~~~
Good example~
and that's was fun to watch!

Jean-Denis Haas said...

Yeah, Cameron was spot on. It's so important.

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