Saturday, November 24, 2012

4 Different, Amazing Approaches to Acting: Context and Creativity

As promised, here was one of my personal favorite panels from CTN 2012. It featured Pixar/Animation  Collaborative animators Michal Makarewicz, Victor Navone, Rob Thompson and Aaron Hartline.

The group of four took on the challenge of using the same rig and the same line of dialogue to create blocking for four entirely different feeling characters/scenes. I managed to take some fairly succinct notes, so here's a little bit about the process each animator went through to create their final shot.

Aaron Hartline - "The Villain"

Lipsync First 

Animating the sync first (while the character is still in T-pose) really helps me to not over-animate through the body. Often enough having the character speaking can be enough movement to keep him alive, and it saves me from having to put in more movement or more poses than necessary.

I make sure to focus on the key words in the sentence, so I can make sure I give them enough emphasis and an interesting mouth-shape.

Animating the lipsync first buys me time! It's something that has to be done no matter what, so getting it done first gives me more time to think about the interesting situation or specific posing I want to put my character into.

Strike a Pose

I like to try and animate my scenes using as little posing as possible. i.e: For a shorter piece of dialogue like this one, I see if I can find one pose that can carry me through the whole thing.

The pose should start with a question -- something to intrigue the audience. We don't want to know he's a villain right off the bat, that's something we want to discover. Having an interesting pose that doesn't give everything away at a first glance is great because it will keep the viewer interested, and give me a place to go as an animator.


Less is more!

Try to find something that you can relate to that you can draw from; Something you know. i.e For a villain, the way your mother or an aunt might look when they got angry when you were a kid. Think about your favorite movie villains, what sort of mannerisms them so frightening?

Ask an Expert

Make sure you show your work to someone else! Find someone that you trust and deliberate with them.

Rob Thompson - "The Job Applicant"

First things first, think about what you have -- the Dialogue, the rig, and the idea -- and consider what is involved in that kind of situation.

For a job applicant:

Emotions: Nervous, excited, anxious...

Conflicting advice: Act casual, but not too casual, dress nice, but not too nice...

Remember that there is a fine line between Confident vs. Cocky, Relaxed vs. Overly Casual, Enthusaistic vs. Over Zealous

Single Pose
Like Aaron mentioned, Can I find a single pose that can get me through the whole shot.

Consider the desires of the character -- like in this example from 'Peep Show'. The main character doesn't actually WANT to get the job, but he also doesn't want to make his friend, who turns out to be in the interview with him, look bad.

Find Your Lighthouse

Find the most important control on your rig - the one that will affect your scene the most - and use it as a guide for all the acting and the timing. (This is a lot like what we were talking about in our Power Centers lecture) For example, if the control is the neck, that person could feel like they have a lot of attitude. Really confident/cocky. 


What specifics can I add while still being limited to one, main pose? i.e. Ricky Gervais in this clip: Same pose, but rocking back and forth in his chair.

Try to keep spontaneity -- don't over rehearse your line, because then it will feel over rehearsed. 

Victor Navone - "The Politician"


Consider your options. Think about the ways you can open up possibilities for acting choices: i.e. For a politician, have them be in one of those circular town hall debates rather than behind a podium.


-Think about character history
-Restrictions i.e. for a politician, one would say/do things differently while they are being filmed. There are certain behaviors that are accepted and/or expected from them that you should try to put into your work
-Environmental details and how they would affect your performance.
-Status: "who has the power" on your scene? How do you inform that through your performance?
-What are your characters goals?


What is really being said through the dialogue?


Practice by drawing out some poses
Refer to Video reference

Inner Monologue

Find the moment of emphasis/biggest change and then emphasize it!


Sketch blocking (2D posing!)
Watch for accidental patterns

"It's a process of discovery for me. I had to go through  a lot of bad ideas before I could get to the ones that had worth." --Victor Navone

Mike Makarewicz - "The Mentor"



Like the others, consider context, dialogue (mood, subtext, etc), scene length.

Get to know your character!

Think about adjectives - 'ingredients, if you will - for your character
Really consider your character's history, because it will help define your characters choices.
Relate your character to people you know well enough already so that you are able to draw from that.

What's important to me:

-Energy -- progression, balance, contrast,
-Internal vs. External -- thinking vs. delivery
-Relatability -- connection with the audience

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