Posts tagged movement

Entertainment in Performance

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The Japanese group Gamarjobat really knows how to take old ideas and make them entertaining.  These are simple gags that we’ve seen a thousand times yet I find myself smiling and laughing as I watch utilize these simple tricks in their performance.  I would say it’s a mix between the setups and misdirects, the sounds they use to imply the emotion and sell reactions, the interaction between the two, as well as knowing the simplicity of the gags themselves can be used to add humor to the show is what keeps me watching.  Simple but well executed.  Overall some fun mime work to watch!

Over-thinking your acting

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When you get up in front of the camera to act out your ideas you need to remember to let it flow naturally.  The more you think about what you’re doing, the worse it gets.  Whether you are acting out an intense dramatic moment or merely walking from one side of the room to the other, you can’t over-think your actions.  Over-thinking makes it feel forced.

If you start your animation from bad reference footage, guess what you’ll end up with.  Bad animation.

Here is an awesome clip from 30 Rock of a character trying to act in front of a camera and over-thinking every move he makes.

He concentrates so hard on the physical actions he performs he forgets how to do them.  Suddenly he doesn’t remember the natural way to walk.  He doesn’t know what to do with his hands when delivering dialogue (another common problem we see in animation).  As a solution, he wants to hold a prop (something we go to as well) and then comically ends up with a prop in each hand!  HA.

If there is enough interest we can dive into this topic further, but mostly this was just an excuse to show this clip from 30-Rock.



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Animating convincing flight is a real challenge.  Just like anything else, you need to do your research. Flight is VERY easy to get wrong, and then you risk losing your audience.  Viewers can just feel that something is… off.
The animators who worked on How to Train Your Dragon spent countless hours studying flight from real life reference of flying creatures. They also looked at both convincing and unconvincing animated flying creatures in films.
Brendon Body, animator on Legend of the Guardians, has done plenty of similar research and put it all in one place for your educational pleasure!  Take advantage of his awesome tutorial for animating flight.

I highly suggest reading this tutorial and studying all of his great examples.  He picks apart live action footage to help you understand bird mechanics, and has compiled plenty of wonderful reference materials that are now at your disposal. Don’t pass this up.

Animated Dance

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I recently shared a video from the intertubes featuring animated dancing. To preface the clip, I stated that I am practically never a fan of animated dancing.  In the comments, “someguy” asked me why.
Rather than write a quick response in the comments I figured I could make a post out of it. I have no intentions for this post to be a personal rant. It is designed to be more of an informative, discussion-inspiring post, albeit peppered with my own opinions.

Dance is a wonderful medium. It is an excellent form of individual expression; it’s beautiful, it’s touching, it’s very personal and meaningful.

Also, it’s incredibly hard to do well.

Seeing someone perform something elegant and beautiful with their body somehow entrances us.

“Someguy” also suggested that you can learn a lot about weight and balance from watching animated dancing. Perhaps, but I promise you will learn far more by watching real dance.  If education is what you’re after, watch some live action.

There’s something very tempting about dance to an animator.  Just grab that hip controller and start rotating it; suddenly your character is almost dancing already.  It also seems to test well with kids, which gets the attention of studios. For a while there was a HUGE trend in animated dancing on the big screen.  Especially during credit sequences.  I just got tired of seeing it everywhere.  While I understand its draw, I have two major problems with it. Both stem from the core of what dance really is, and how animation usually fails to meet it.

First, it’s really cool to see people create interesting movements with their bodies.  However, once it’s translated into animation – in my opinion – it usually loses what it had in real life.

If you were to animate the above video would it be an awesome animation?  In my opinion, no. You can do anything in animation anyway, so why would anyone care that you can ‘break’ the character and move it in an unnatural way.  But when you see a person actually do it – wow.

Secondly, most dance is about personal expression.  The dancer is expressing a part of themselves, and getting an emotional response from the viewer.  It is truly an art form.  When we animate dancing it’s usually because it’s fun to animate, but it rarely comes from a place of personal expression.  It’s fun to show off our dance animations (since it’s so hard to do), but we rarely ever get any sort of emotional connection between the viewer and the character.  For example, which of these two videos elicit more of a reaction from you?

Video 1:

Video 2:

Which one made you smile? Which one made you feel something?  For me, when I watch the second video I laugh, I brighten, my mood improves.  I am emotionally affected by the super-cuteness. They are exactly the same concept, yet one works and one doesn’t.  Years ago that first video had people rolling on the floor laughing.  It was the trendiest, most-passed Internet video, and everyone seemed to love it.  I never understood.

Bringing this back around, the reason I posted the Dance Fortress video was that I actually found it entertaining (and now you know why that is rare for me).
There was SO much going on in the clip, and every character had a different style of dance (plus it was animated well), and it made me smile.  Given the amount of unique characters, there was a lot of rewatch value, which is something almost nonexistent for the majority of animated dance clips.

I’m not saying it can never work, but I feel like it doesn’t work 95% of the time.
Here’s one I love:

And before you say, “well it works because it’s a frog!”  Here’s a dancing turtle that doesn’t work for me.  (reptile/amphibian, close enough?)
Well, what I think is different here is character.  One Froggy Evening is a short designed entirely around a frog that appears bored as hell most of the time and on rare occasions will break into song and dance – but the tragedy is that he will only do it when he and his ‘owner’ are alone.  There is an interesting dynamic between the happy-go-lucky feeling the frog creates (while he’s dancing) and the frustration the owner feels at the frog’s noncooperation.  These are both emotions that can resonate with the audience.

Here is another:

This is a clip from A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Snoopy is overcome with the music and feels the urge to dance.  He slowly starts feeling the beat and before long he’s dancing on the piano.  The music stops but he doesn’t, resulting in embarrassment.  I think these are all emotions we can relate to.  Who hasn’t felt the urge to dance to a song that really grabs you?  Who hasn’t gotten caught dancing and felt a little embarrassed?
Even more importantly, this segment isn’t about the dancing itself.  They don’t cut to all his sweet dance moves, or show how he can really sway his hips well or pop-and-lock.  It’s not about the actual dance but more about the emotion that he’s feeling and expressing.

I guess my final point is that it has to mean something for me.  Are you making the character dance just to dance?  Or does it communicate something to the audience and is it ‘in character?’


X-ray videos

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This is pretty cool.  The body is a fascinating thing, eh?  I find these videos both captivating and unsettling.  Since we spend so much time studying how the body moves it’s pretty neat to see whats going on underneath the skin as it’s happening.

Röntgenfilm IV / X-Ray Film IV from Fleischarchive on Vimeo.

X-Ray Film V – Knee and Foot from Fleischarchive on Vimeo.

Röntgenfilm III / X-Ray Film III from Fleischarchive on Vimeo.

Great stuff.  Special thanks to Fred Nilsson for the links.