Research

 

Hooks, Ed (2000). Acting for Animators: a complete guide to performance animation . Portsmouth: Heinemann.

Notes from reading this book:

“Seven Essential Acting Concepts:

“Thinking leads to movement and emotion”. –

Thinking/brain drives everything we do. A nice example they gave for this essential acting concept is: “When your lover caresses you, you experience emotion based on your personal value.” [pg.8] Your life journey up to the point of the action contributes to it.

“Thinking tend to lead to conclusions: emotion tends to lead to action” [pg.8] Because of this statement we can conclude depending on how someone comes to conclusion shows in the emotion and thus the action. We move a reason.

THINKING>EMOTION>MOVEMENT 

“Acting is reacting. Acting is doing.”        

 All action is reaction. A reaction to internal thought or external reaction. “The pose is a reaction to something” [pg.9] The point Hook is trying to make is that first there is a reaction, then an action. For instance a man may look at the time and see his car park ticket is about to run out. He reacts to this. THEN he takes action.

“Your Character needs to have an objective.”

 Ed Hooks states your character should be doing something at all times. “An action without a thought is impossible, and an action without an objective is just a mechanical thing, moving body parts.” [pg.10] These objectives pushes the character to perform an action. Depending on what the objective is will determine how the action will be performed and the pacing of the action.

“Your character should play an action until something happens to make him play a different action. ”  

As the title depicts a character should be doing something at all times. It should be doing that action until he is motivated to carry out a new action. This could be from internal though or external conversions.

“All actions begin with movement.”          

 Movement is something we all do, even if it comes from multiplying a hard problem in our head we still move our eyes or head. [pg. 14]

“Empathy is the magic key. Audiences empathise with emotion.”    

Empathy is so very important because it is the connection between you and the audience – the audience is why anyone acts or animates. The animator needs to capture the emotion in the movement which the audience can empathise with.

“A scene is a negotiation.”      

“A negotiation implies conflict, obstacles, opposing needs-but it suggests a search for positive resolution.”

Miyazaki, Hayao 1996 (english translated: 2009). Starting Point 1979 ~ 1996. Japan (english translated:San Francisco) : Studio Ghibli Inc (english translated: Viz Media).

This book was a christmas present and it is such an interesting read!

“To me, one of the basic elements in defining the personality of an animated charter is to show the same action performed by two separate characters. No one does the same thing in the same way- no one. There’s one scene in Totoro when Mei and her older sister Satsuki are exploring their new house. Satsuki is running around opening random doors. Then Mei comes in and does the same thing, but she does it like a young child. This scene tells the audience that Mei is the younger of the two girls. Nothing else needs to be said. Its so clear. These are two different ages, doing the same thing, but in completley different ways.” page 10 -John Lasseter

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Best, David (1974). Expression in Movement & the Arts A philosphical enquiry. London: Lepus Books. put in pages.

“Movement expresses the inner qualities of a person”

“All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”

“The connection is usually supposed to be casual, in the sense that the inner emotion overflows and causes the external expressive action. “ 

Wertsch, James V. (1998). Mind as Action . New York: Oxford University Press. put in pages.


Acting theories

p01pmrx2Stanislavsky, the man who helped shaped the acting world. Stanislavsky believed acting could be learnt. His technique of method acting, and immersing yourself in the world of the character. His theory understood how to characterise and evoke the emotion of the role. “What would I do?” might be a very different question than “What would Hamlet do?” 

Stanislavsky believed in observation and encouraged this among his student. Identifying physical traits individual to the every person. He would often disguise himself as someone else, say an old person, and see if he could blend in.

Stanislavsky also looked to understand the motive of the characters. Why was they doing something or saying something.

“Stanislavsky didn’t want his actors to simply create a facsimile of an emotion.. actors needed to put themselves in the mindset of the character’s situation so that they genuinely experience the feelings of intense sadness. ” 

Many actors use this technique to get into the frame of mind of there characters. When Heath Ledger played the role of the joker he locked himself in his apartment for a month. “If you tried to communicate with him normally instead of The Joker, he would just ignore you, he would often come to the set to hang out even on his days off, freaking everyone out. Towards the end of filming, he was warned by people that he had gone too far.”

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Dustin Hoffman in preparation of filming Marathon Man stayed up for three nights because the character he was playing did. Being able to embody the character gives you a better judgement of how and why they carry out specific actions.

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This is something I think as an animator I need to consider. It is so very important to allow the audience to feel empathy of the character.


 

Sanford Meisner  Differently from Stanislavsky, Meisner believed in his theory summarisedmeisner here: “based on bringing the actor back to his emotional impulses and to acting that is firmly rooted in the instinctive. It is based on the fact that all good acting comes from the heart, as it were, and that there’s no mentality to it.”  He believed in using what was around the actor, using concentration, improvisation and imagination.

One of his most notable technique used repetition. A statement would be repeated back and forth between actors until it naturally changed. This would work by reacting truthfully allowing it to change organically. Meisner’s approach trains the actor to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”

 


 

Michael Chekhov  

 Chekhov was considered at the time to be one of the best actors. A student of Stanislavsky, Chekhov believed in the power of psychological gesture.  To define this we should look at the meaning of gesture – movement fuelled by motive. “Psychological Gesture is a movement that expresses the psychology of the character. Chekhov defines the psychology to consist of the thoughts, feelings and will of a human being.” 

 According to Chekhov, the work of the actor is tChekhov_Eriko create an inner event which is an actual experience occurring in real time within the actor. This inner event as it is being experienced by the actor is witnessed by the audience as an outward expression related to the contextual moment of the play. This event and the ability to create it belong to what Michael Chekhov calls the Creative Individuality of the actor, and is not directly tied to his personality. This Creative Individuality allows the artist actor to use parts of himself that are not just the smaller meaner more banal elements that make up his daily life, but rather parts of his unconscious, where dwell more universal and archetypal images.” [a]

Michael promoted to think further than just acting to look at psychology, history and art. All these things are something I want to take away. Animation acting is something which can be worked and viewed. But it is all the more important to put life into the character. It needs to have a sense of realism and believability. Out of all the theories I have looked at I really love Chekhov’s theory. This is a theory I hope to apply when I begin my pieces of character performance.


Uta Hagen

utahagensevereUta Hagen as well as an actress, believed in her theory of concentrating on realism. Focusing on the truth and using it.  Hagen believed in substituting the actors experience and emotions to transfer into the scene.  I think this is a theory which many actors do without even realise. Using our own gestures and faces to pour into our animations.

Lee Strasberg

Acting Teacher and Actor Lee Strasberg, 1956
22 Aug 1956, London, England, UK — Actor and acting teacher Lee Strasberg, London, 1956. — Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

The last acting theory which I wanted to discuss was Lee Strasberg who used Stanislavsky theory, to build on to his idea of acting techniques.

He believed that actors should intensify their own connections to the character by “creating their characters’ emotional experiences in their own lives.” Strasberg trained many of the best actors in film today: “James Dean, Ellen Burstyn, Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Marilyn Monroe, Julie Harris, Paul Newman, and Dustin Hoffman.”


Bibliography

Bradford, Wade. (2014). The Stanislavsky Method. Available: http://plays.about.com/od/actingessentials/a/The-Stanislavsky-Method.htm. Last accessed 9.1.16.

Hufford, Ashley & Acuna,Kirsten. (2013). 15 Method Actors Who Refuse To Break Character. Available: http://www.businessinsider.com/actors-who-refuse-to-break-character-2013-2?op=1&IR=T. Last accessed 10.1.16.

Brestof, Richard . (N/A). Acting Techniques from famous teachers. Available: http://www.acting-classes-online-tips.com/acting-techniques-from.html. Last accessed 10.1.16.

John Desotelle Studio. (n/a). SANFORD MEISNER TECHNIQUE.Available: http://www.desotellestudio.com/sanford-meisner-technique.html. Last accessed 10.1.16.

Dalton, Lisa. (1986). THE PSYCHOLOGICAL GESTURE: Hollywood’s Best Kept Acting Secret!. Available: http://www.michaelchekhov.net/gesture.html. Last accessed 10.1.16.

 a. n/a. (2004). About Michael Chekhov’s technique. Available: http://www.michaelchekhovactingstudio.com/technique.htm. Last accessed 10.1.16.

Wright, KC. (2015). 8 Important Acting Techniques (in Gifs!).Available: http://www.backstage.com/news/8-important-acting-techniques-gifs/. Last accessed 10.1.16.


Science behind the EYES!!

“The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter – often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter – in the eye.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

The eyes in real life as well as animation is one of the most powerful tools to express emotions and LIFE!

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An example of the power in the eyes is evidence here. In a Mori Memento victorian photograph. In this time photographs were expensive and the post mortem photograph would be the only way to have a photograph of deceased family. In the early photographs the dead were posed with other family members like this one. The only real clue were the eyes and many people got the eyes painted on the photographs.

There are 4 types of extreme eye movements (as well as other smaller ones!)

Saccade – Saccadic eye movement are fast, “ballistic movements” which constantly changes the “point of fixation.”  This can take place from any distance, by looking at an image in your hand to looking around a room. This motion is voluntary.”Most saccades are less than about 15o in size.”

A good example of saccadic vision

2:06-2:16!! (Watch this part<—)

A really good example of Saccadic vision is in this scene from Tangled. You can see how in this 3D animated film using scattered eye contact gives such a sense of realism but more important denotes emotion! In fact the whole tangled has such rich eye movements throughout. Perhaps this is due to the big eyes Rapunzel has. Saccadic motion can be curve or be straight moves.

Smooth Pursuit this movement is a tracking glide that is soft designed to keep a moving stimulus on the fovea.”This movement can be subconsciously or consciously controlled depending on if there is a moving subject or not.

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Vergence Movements ” vergence is the simultaneous movement of both eyes in opposite directions to obtain or maintain single binocular vision.”

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Vestibulo-ocular movements the last eye movement is how the eye moves in order to compensate for head movements and the external world. “These reflex responses prevent visual images from “slipping” on the surface of the retina as head position varies.”  To test this eye movement you can look at one object centred in front of you and shake your head from side to side. The eye will consider the head movements by moving at the same distance but at an opposite direction. Consequently leaving the image at the “same place on the retina.”

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sources http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10991/

http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/capsules/pdf_articles/type_eye_movement.pdf

“Almost nothing need be said when you have eyes.”
Tarjei Vesaas, The Boat in the Evening


Rigs

This project has reinforced how vital good rigs are. The rig really dictates how far you can move and exaggerate the character I wanted. Also the rig can really limit how you want to express your character. This is probably why I have understood from designing the character how I was not able to push the rig. We used “Claire”. You can see below Claire gone wrong… Beautiful isn’t she?

But to be honest I didn’t have to many problems with claire! There was an odd deformation but usually it was my own thought.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 15.54.32
Screenshot from my animation

As I was previously saying the rig are really like the strings of a puppet. They limit how far you can exaggerate at some points. So what I wanted to identify what makes a good rig? We will be learning how to rig next term so that will allow me to gain a more technical understanding of them. But the real question is what do I consider to be a good rig.

 

giphy (1)

Sony pictures animation have very exaggerative rigs that look almost unreal. When I was researching someone described them as closer to 2D as they do not just go on an anatomy alone. These rigs allow you to have complete control on how they move. The character differences can be more exaggerated and defined.1

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I think this is a beautiful image really showing the differences in the movement and the rig capacities.

 

Below is a link to an article for some good maya rigs that are cheap/free I found. I thought it would be good to leave here if I wanted to come back and explore other rigs.

Maya Rigs That Don’t Suck


Inspirations

During my research stages I have been reviewing performances that I have seen in film, TV that have struct me. To give animation life performance is vital.

Below is an episode of My mad fat diary, a TV series set in the 90s. The character Archie is about to tell his friends that he is gay. This is one of my favourite scenes because of the different reaction of all his friends and there facial reactions. It shows how all the characters hear the same news but react differently. Furthermore the way they react demonstrate the sort of personality they have.

Finn(“Just tell em Archie” guy) Is his best friend. As his best friend this character dosen’t need the information to verify it, he already knew. He is accepting, reassuring. This builds to how this character acts.

Izzy (Red headed girl) Bubbly, her character is described as never saying a bad word. Her reaction then should be as it was accepting, smiling.

Chloe a character who is seductive and self assured reacts by understanding why he turned down her (thinking about herself)

After reading Ed Hook’s book it kind of shines a light on the process of a character.

Click to [31.27-34mins]


One of my favourite character performance scene in animation is the scene where Buzz has a breakdown and reclaims the identity of”Miss Nesbit.” Being one of the first 3D animated films, Toy Story has so many well developed characters which is most likely why it was such a successful franchise. Below is another shot from Toy Story 2, I think the character performance is so effective. The, stance the pose it carries humour.

 

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Buzz-Lightyear-Sad-Strange-Little-Man

As Toy Story was the first feature film, the ways of working were very new. “Succeeding would mean creating the software and hardware they would need as they went along, and inventing a new kind of movie altogether.” The development of the piece saw a small team of animators of 27 come together on work on a film using a medium that was new to the world. Although different to the hand-drawn animation:” What remains the same in both techniques is the need for acting ability on the part of the animator.”

When pitching to Tom Hanks for the role of woody, Lasseter used a similar technique to our project this term. The animators used dialogue from the film Turner and Hooch to woody to which Hanks responded to.

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Having to animate toys was an interesting tasks for the animators! They had to overcome how they would move! “It’s not uncommon for animators to play with their subjects. After all, if you’re going to spend hundreds of hours animating a sequence, you need to know exactly how they move.”

Animator Pete Docter took action by nailing his sneakers to wooden board planks, eventually all of the animators were walking around with these boards! This goes to show how valuable it is for the animator to experience and get to grips with what they animating.

Yamato, Jen. (2013). Exclusive Book Excerpt: ‘The CG Story’: How Pixar Saved ‘Toy Story’ From Becoming A Disney Disaster. Available: http://deadline.com/2013/12/exclusive-book-cg-story-pixar-toy-story-disney-disaster-648971/. Last accessed 12.1.16.

Zorthian, Julia. (2015). How Toy Story Changed Movie History.Available: http://time.com/4118006/20-years-toy-story-pixar/. Last accessed 12.1.16.

Semlyen, Phil De. (2010). A History Of CGI In The Movies. Available: http://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/history-cgi/. Last accessed 12.1.16.


 

Performers

Two performers which use there bodies and create persona for themselves are David Bowie and Kate Bush. These two music geniuses created fictitious characters which they embodied. Such as Bowie as Major Tom, or Kate bush as Cathy from Wuthering Heights. They used there music as well as there bodies to move as they felt the characters would.

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Bowie also understood the power of the body in conveying his words. He studied mime.

Like Bowie, Bush was offered a lot of opportunities at a young age but “worked on her songs, studied dance and practised her performance skills in a pub band” [1]  until she was ready to accept a deal. She understood the priority of learning about using her body as an extension of her music.

If you look at the gifs you can see why they are so captivating. Relating back to what Ed Hook said,  “an action without an objective is just a mechanical thing, moving body parts.” You can see how mystical and emotive that literally hypnotises you to delve further into there crazy world. This is defiantly something I want to add into my character animation work. I would love to study Kate Bush for more inspiration during this project.

Rubinald Pronk

 

If we below at the above clip of the notorious child catcher you can see how he moves with eerie grace. Ballet dancer Robert Helpmann is the child catcher and you can see how using a dancer who understands how to evoke emotion with the body can summarise a character.

Below is a scene from seven brothers for seven brides. As you can see the dance is using axe. I think what dance gives us is an interpretation of a movement. This scene is meant to be manly, but sad as well. I think it perfectly personifies that!

Dance is almost an over exaggeration of life, just as animation needs to be exaggerated. Further to the point Ed Hook discussed in his book how film needs to be theatrical it is part of the contract between the audience and the actor.

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Bibliography for Performers section of research:

  1. McMillan, Barbara . (2014). Kate Bush Is Back: Why She’s As Captivating As Ever . Available: [http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/blogs/547209/life-stories-kate-bush.html]. Last accessed 9.1.16.

2. Posted by col1234. (October 21, 2009). The Mime Songs. Available: https://bowiesongs.wordpress.com/tag/the-mask/. Last accessed 9.1.16.

 

 

 

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