AM - Class 5 / Week 6 - Lecture

Mechanics & Acting.

In this lecture; Bret Parker, Animator at Pixar explains how she starts animating acting shots from a pose to pose approach, focusing on incorporating a proper body mechanics into the acting in early blocking stage.
As we've mentioned earlier in class one, there are three methods of animating: Pose to Pose, Layering, and Straight a Head. Sometimes we use a combination of all three depending on the type of shot/character we're animating.

In this lecture, Bret played a short sequence from Ratatouille that she animated back in the day, and showed us the progression stages it went through starting from the way she received the shot from the layout department at Pixar, all the way to the final polish.
Here are some notes from the lecture, ordered from blocking to polish:

- Before you start working on a shot, be very specific of what you want to do with it.
- While Staging your shot, you need to present your idea in away that its unmistakably clear, that can be achieved by knowing exactly the purpose of that shot & how it falls in context.
- Take your time planning your shot, write down all the questions you need to know about it, act it out, explore different options.
- Analyze the personality of your character & the its relation with its surrounding as your planing.
- Keep in mind as you're making the composition to lead the audience eyes to the things you want them to see.
- Layout pass should include the basic timing for the character as it enters, moves around, or exits frame.
- Bret advises her student to push the layout stage a bit far in terms of posing, to get a better understanding for the character and its intentions.
- Focus on your key poses first, then place your inbetween, after that work off the timing.
- Incorporate eye distraction in the blocking stage.
- Consider your arcs as you're blocking.
- Start thinking about breakdowns as your building your key poses.
- Make sure to get all the physics correct in the blocking stage.
- As your blocking the key-poses, establish the character's focus with the full body not just the eyes or head direction.
- Approach a dialog shot the same way you approach a pantomime shot, Don't relay on the dialog to tell the story but sculpt your key-poses in a way that it will tell the story for you, the audience should be able to read the emotions & intentions of the shot through posing, even with the dialog turned off.
- If your shot has two characters dependent on each other you might want to block them both together at the same time.
- Constantly keep checking your key-posses if they look appealing.
- Be aware not to fall into even timing through out the animation.
- While animating a simple movements; something as simple as a finger pointing, incorporate the whole body in that movement starting from the root up.
- Bret prefers using FK arms when a character is gesturing with its hands.
- Don't be afraid to rip out a pose or to change a full segment of the animation as you're splining to make the shot look better.
- Overlap, Ease in, Ease out.
- Simplify the animation of the hands & face, more is less.
- We hear a lot the 'Keep Alive' term when in comes to secondary characters in a shot, keeping the character alive dose not mean to add simple movement or a blink, it means going inside that character's thoughts & reflect that into its performance.


  1. Fine tips! This will help many animators!!

  2. thank you so much for sharing everything youve learned! :'D