Advanced Animation: A Thinking Character (online course)

What makes an audience believe?

A thinking character makes an audience believe. Acting is not just delivering lines and emoting while moving. Making a character think while delivering the line is what fools the audience into believing the character is alive. The brain never stops; a character is always thinking, there is never a dead moment.

During this course we will focus on pushing the envelope of animation by making characters think and making an audience believe.
Acting for an actor or an animated character is about solving problems. Just like an engineer needs to solve a mechanical problem, an actor needs to solve his or her problem by picking the appropriate way to act during a given situation. Different actors will pick different ways to solve their problem. There is never only one good way to solve a problem but there are many bad ways to do so and as an animator, just like an actor, we need to be able to differentiate between what works and what doesn’t.

As Animators, we are rarely great actors but we need to be able to pick great acting and know how to make good choices. We need to be able to differentiate between the good and the bad.

During this course we will study a few actors and watch how they choose to solve their problems. We’ll talk about the choices they made, how unique they were and also about other ways their problems could have been solved.

Sometimes we forget that an honest performance is not just a character that is moving well but a character that is believable. We will talk about beats, takes and accents – how to do them without losing focus and just mechanically adding them in a shot.
We will then demonstrate how to shoot good reference. We will go over examples and demonstrate the thinking process behind each one. We will also pick an audio line to animate during this course and show how we would approach shooting reference for it.

We will show how we break down and how we think about shapes when we plan our animation. We’ll then dive into Maya and demonstrate a workflow. We’ll show how to do a blocking pass, how to move from blocking to Animation and how to polish a shot. We will talk about exaggeration and working in extremes. We’ll transition onto the face and show how we layer emotions, how to do eye darts and eye blinks, and how to keep the character from looking dead. We will talk about how the character feels alive even without the mouth being animated after which we’ll move on to lip-sync. We will demonstrate how to link the lower face to the upper face and how important it is to do that final overall face pass.

In the end, we hope that you will have a better understanding of what makes an animated character come to life, how to accomplish the daunting task of animating a thinking character and what fools an audience into believing in this character.

Course Information

Duration: 3 months (12 weeks)
Start Date: December 1st, 2013
Instructor: Jalil Sadool
Prerequisites: Intermediate Anim. Skills
Price: $1797 USD (or $599 monthly)

Course Trailer

Instructor's Reel

Our Friends