AM - Class 4 / Week 5 - Lecture

Gestures & Body Language.

Gestures illustrate/communicate a feeling that a character has; As humans we tend to gesture a lot, and we do it spontaneously, our job as animators is to think about the gestures we add into our characters, why we're adding them,
and push them to make it look more entertaining.

Gestures can tell a lot about the personalty of the character, if a person is nervous he will gesture in a certain way, if he is happy he will gesture in another; you want to make a proper well though acting choices that goes along the mental status
of the character in that given moment, you don't want to animate a gesture just for the sake of doing it, it has to mean something.

The best advice for animating interesting gestures is to be aware of the world around you, shooting a video reference of yourself acting out a shot is great.. BUT!! sometimes people start seeing you in the characters that you animate, so the best way to avoid that is to observe people around you, whether its a friend, a brother, an uncle, and try create a visual reference
in your head to refer back to, you could also build a digital archive of reference clips which is highly recommended for every animator to have because its another way of staying fresh with your ideas.

There are many elements that makes gestures look interesting, I'll try to cover some of them:

- Stay away from cliché gestures, and design your gestures to be different from what has been done over & over again.
- Be aware of the physicality & weight of the character while animating gestures,
- Utilize props around the characters to gesturing with, things like a cup, a cigar. a pen, etc.
- While animating a shot with a dialog, avoid hitting every single phrase in your animation with a gesture, simplify it!
- Create nice design patterns & arcs when gesturing.
- Give gestures enough time to read clearly.
- Vary & texture the timing of your gestures.
- Avoid Twinning while gesturing unless its needed, here is few ways to make twinned gestures more interesting:
 . Arrive to & leave from a gesture at different times with each side of the body.
 . Unsymmetrical gestures followed be a symmetrical one.
 . Use contrast & texture to break up twinning.
 . Lead/anticipate a twinned gesture with a smaller gesture.

Gestures should help to extenuate the idea, so don't over use it cuz it will become distracting for the viewer.  & remember
that animation is all about clarity!


AM - Class 4 / Week 4 - Lecture

Secondary Action.

Some notes from this great lecture presented by Jason Schliefer.

When molding a piece of clay, usually you would start off by sculpting the basic large shapes to see how its going to form, then you get into the small details, same principle applies to character animation, you don't want to go into the little gestures and fine details in the shot unless you are totally satisfied with the main action.

Secondary action is not (as many might think) overlap, drag, or follow through; secondary action is the small actions the character dose to support the main action/purpose of the shot!   It helps defining who the character is.

Secondary action is important for:
- Making the characters more believable & making the audience believe that they are watching a living breathing thing.
- Enhancing character personality, if he is happy, sad, nerves.. etc.
- Breaking off repetitive timing to make something like a walk cycle much more interesting.

When people are talking to each other they will not be static, they'll be gesturing with there hands, or maybe scratching there head, or they'll do things that is some how related to the conversation they're having; in order to create a believable animation performance you'll need to add such gestures to your characters.

The surrounding environment around the character can play a big role in creating the secondary actions, use the props & environment around the characters to help selling the the fact that they do exist in that environment, & remember we're not animating characters in the middle of nowhere, make them touch things around them, pick things up, look around etc.  but remember not to over do it, because it could be distracting to the audience.

If you think about who your character is, & where they're coming from, & what there intention is, this will affect the types of acting choices that you make in terms of secondary actions; pay a close attention for the personality of your character and think about the subtle things that you can add to enhance what they're saying based on who they are & what they're talking about.

Try to stay away from over gestured performance; find the right subtle level that is not distracting the idea of the shot, and don't try to force any secondary action that dose not feel suitable, if you tried something that doesn't seem to work, DO NOT be afraid to just throw it away & try a new one.

Another thing to stay away from is Cliche ideas in character gesturing, like a character wiping his eyes while crying, or big smiley face when the character is happy; the point is to try new gestures unlike whatever you've seen before, and the best way to fish for new ideas for gesturing is to film yourself acting the shot, because you will do spontaneous gestures that 
you'll never be able to think about otherwise, and when you watch it playback you see that there are so many little things that you can add to your character performance.

AM - Class 4 / Week 3 - Lecture

Lateral Thinking: Generating Ideas for Acting.

For creative and artistic development, All the famous studios like Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, organize 'Improvisation classes' to there animators, so they can generate creative new ways to thinking about the characters there animating.

In this unusual class hosted by Improvisation instructor Rebecca Stockley, we learn how to use our own bodies physicality to inspire acting choices & avoid Cleche, Rebecca has worked for many years with Pixar & Dreamorks teaching many of the amazing animators out there how to develop a fresh approaches to acting.

She gathered a few groups of students at AM, and started loosen them up by performing a regular walk across the room, as they're walking she asked them to shift there weight backward, forward, arm swing, just to feel how  that would effects the personality of the character the're in, then later she got into acting dialog & experimenting with different attitudes, and so on..

It was an entertaining lecture to watch! Probably the hardest part of it is that you'll need get off your chair & a way from the computer and start performing along as your watching the lecture, & if you are a lazy guy like me, you could consider it as a good exercise to lose some weight :)