Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Character takes a drink



"An Animator is an Actor with a pencil." Chuck Jones

In order to bring a performance to life in animation, the Animator must be able to "Act Out" what you want the character to do. As an Actor, you must know who your character is or what type of person are they.

"Every animator is really an actor performing in slow motion, living the character a drawing at a time." John Lasseter

Many animation students don't want to act in front of an audience, they draw out their poses and wonder why their animation is very stiff or doesn't move the right way. By "Acting it Out" you will learn how your character needs to move, be aware of which foot your weight is on. How do you move from one pose to another? Can you try moving to the next pose in a different way?

To begin the process, keep a small mirror at your desk. This mirror can be use to help you draw facial expressions. Make a face in your mirror and study how your brows, mouth, nose and eyes make that expression. Draw the expression onto your character. You can also use it to see how your hand looks when holding a prop like a glass. Which side of the hand does the thumb go?
And with a bigger mirror you can see how your body gets into a position or out of one. A more modern solution is to record a video using your phone.  Shooting reference of your scene allows you to study how your body and facial expression work together to tell your story. It also allows you to figure out the timing or your actions and break them down into frames.

"In our animation we must show only the actions and reactions of a character, but we must picture also with the action...the feeling of those characters." Walt Disney

A scene starts in the middle of a situation.  The Acting assignment will be in a medium shot where you r character is seated at a table with a drink sitting nearby. You will need to show who this character is at the beginning of the scene and...  

"What is your character thinking  and why does he feel that way." Ollie Johnston

Think about what kind of drink is it. It could be poison or a cure. It can be super sour or sweet, too strong, too weak, too hot or too cold. Come up with your own idea.
Acting is reacting. Your character will play an action until an event makes them play a different one. In this case, we need the character to be doing something, either internal or external before they decide to take a drink.  Are they bored, upset or drunk?  Think about how your character is going to take a drink. Will they take a little sip or a big gulp?

You are showing your character's story to your audience one pose at a time.

How does the character react to this drink? tThis will tell your audience how your character reacts and thinks about the drink. They don't have to have a big cartoony reaction, but you will need to show some sort of "take" and hold on the character's expression long enough, so your audience will understand what's going on.

To help you conceive this acting situation;  I suggest you come up with a character and act out the scene for yourself. Figure out how your character is feeling at the beginning of the scene. Then put yourself in the same frame of mind. Act like the character, practice a few times, try it out one way and then try acting it out a different way. Decide which way works for you and drop anything too confusing to do.

Once you've worked out your "act", make a video with your phone of yourself seated at a table with a drink in full view. Notice the drink and take a sip. You are the character, push yourself; don't just take a sip, yum, the end. Exaggerate if needed. Tell your character's story by acting it out. Here's mine...


This will be your reference footage. You can see how you move from one pose to the next and what facial expressions you are making. You also know how long it takes to reach for the drink, how long does it take to pick it up and bring it to your face, etc. You can convert the seconds into frames.

1 second = 24 frames, if you are shooting on twos, 1 second = 12 drawings. 

Same Action, 3 different performances

Can you tell what the character is feeling or thinking?



Reference 3 from Toondini on Vimeo.

Everyone is starting to hand in the same acting choice, but your drink can be sour, super sweet, taste like vomit, think what kind of drink. Your character can be dying of thirst or upset about something, has a cold or is late for class.


NEXT TIME:  Finding the Key Poses!

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