Study

The Human Animal

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The documentary The Human Animal can be seen for free on DocumentaryStorm.com (all 6 parts of it!)

It’s a fascinating documentary about our species. PART ONE focuses primarily on body language across all cultures.  Really interesting stuff.
Fair warning though, the first few minutes features naked people.  Just sayin’.

|Jacob

Thanks to Eric Buescher of BGSU’s Computer Art Club for the link.

Screen-Capture Warehouse

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It’s called Leave Me the White ( LeaveMeTheWhite.com ) and they store countless screen captures from LOTS of films and tv-shows.  Including seasons of Battlestar Gallactica, all of Firelfy, comedies like Arrested Development or 30 Rock, films like The Usual Suspects, Pirates of the Caribbean, Fight Club, the list goes on and on and on.  The actual amount of images is quite mind-boggling.  For a random example, there are over 2,100 images captured from the film The Departed, and between 600-1000 images per episode of Firefly.  Wow.

“Why is this relevant?” you may ask…
Well, this can be a great source of inspiration for staging ideas, color keys, lighting concepts, facial expressions, posing, etc.

Random screen capture of screen captures from a random episode of Firefly.
(The above sentence actually makes sense. Honestly.)

I suggest you bookmark it.  You never know when you might want to reference a film/show for inspiration.  A series of still images forces you to see composition and color far more than when you’re distracted by movement.  Note that in the image above there are 10 pages containing over 900 images.  It’s almost too much.  (almost.)

|Jacob

Ball bounce : in depth

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There is a VERY informative and in-depth breakdown of bouncing balls and what you can learn from them over at the Follow-Thought blog.

Head on over and check it out.  It is definitely THE most comprehensive post on what you can learn from a ball bounce that I have ever seen.

|Jacob

Musical Shorts

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Recently I was talking to my class about how closely related music and animation are.  Both art forms are used to tell stories, convey emotion, and entertain.  We even use musical terms like timing, rhythm, phrasing, and beats to describe our motion.  Often times I find that the only way to describe some movements in my shots is through sounds.  This is something that I’ve always loved about animation.

I’ve also found it very common for animators to be musicians as well.  Adam, Jacob, and I have all been very involved in music.  Did you know that Adam composed and performs our intro music.

So, with all of this in mind, I asked my student to explore the interwebs and see what kinds of musically driven animated shorts were out there.  I propose to throw this same challenge to you our listeners.  Go out and find some really inspiring “musical shorts” and post them here in our comments section.  We will be posting our favorites as well.  They don’t have to be abstract, just drivin by a strong musical foundation.  To start things off, here are three of my favorites:

Runaway by Cordell Barker  Music by Ben Charest

Sensology by Michel Gagne Music by Paul Plimley and Barry Guy

Thought of You by Ryan Woodward Music by The Weepies

Thought of You from Ryan J Woodward on Vimeo.

Those were great right!?  Now post your favorites in the comments section and lets see how much music we can bring to this animation site!!

Acting study: ‘Opulence, I has it.’

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Every once and while commercials come around that are just brilliant. This commercial caught my eye, not only for it’s originality and attention to detail, but also for the acting choices. This is not meant to be anything in depth, but I thought I’d point out some things I thought worked well and what maybe didn’t.

First watch the clip:

The first thing that stuck out to me was how fresh and spot on the acting choices were for our main character. Besides his surroundings and what he’s literally saying, you get so much support about who he is by how he acts and the way he moves.

I’ll just list my favorite parts and what I think they communicate:
- Overall, his movements are slower and more controlled. One of my former acting teachers told me that an easy acting choice to show class is to think that the poor and lowly move very fast and scurry around while the rich and powerful move only a minimal amount since everything is done for them. When he sits back into the chair, notice it’s at his pace. His point towards the bust he prefers lingers there and he only retracts his index finger. Again, all very minimal, but of course, meaningful at the same time.
- His status is also portrayed at the very beginning because he neither looks at the grape he’s about to eat nor does he look back when he hands the bowl away. This shows that he expects everything to be in it’s place and bending to his very will. Again, small choice, but makes a big difference.
- When he chooses the bust he likes best, two things stick out to me. First, he never has to look back at the other bust to compare. Second, the fact that he chooses so quickly. Both of these things show that he knows what he likes and always gets what he wants.
- When he sits down on the couch and turns on the TV his movement is, again, very minimal. Think about how powerful that is and then think about how you would have animated it if you got that line of dialog. I don’t know about you, but I would have over-animated it. I can already think of a couple of head accents and such that I would have added. I would have been wrong. :)
- “I jump in it.” is another great example of how we, as animators, would have totally over-animated a piece of dialog. My first reaction to the line would be to maybe add an eyebrow accent, but all he does is a head nod. Just awesome.
-That laugh and reaction to kissing the mini giraffe is priceless. Not only does it cap off the commercial with a fun idea, but it serves a few interesting purposes. First, the most obvious is to show how spoiled he is. He laughs like a kid in a candy store. Second, considering he was pretty minimal throughout the commercial, this adds brilliant contrast. The minimal movement earlier in the commercial serves not only to show his character, but also to accent this last acting choice. If he was as giddy for the whole commercial, this last bit would not have sold.

Now this commercial isn’t all roses. The pretty lady sitting right next to him on the couch WAY overacts. My assumption is that she should be playing bored and unimpressed maybe. Just too much movement and too many ideas going on to be believable.

Let me know your thoughts.

|Ben

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