It can feel overwhelming when it comes to animating the human form, and communicating anything specific about your character can feel frustrating at times.
These classes are designed to guide you step by step through a seemingly overwhelming world of character performance. Facial animation will be excluded and focus is placed on body language and clarity of ideas. Each homework assignment will be paired with a helpful video further explaining and demonstrating how to do it. At the beginning of each course we will talk about the previous assignment and help you, live online, so that we can all learn from each other!
Performance refers to effectively communicating an idea to the audience about what a character is thinking or doing. And no matter how complex, anything is achievable if we understand a few basic concepts:
The first things we recognize in an image are shapes. The most recognizable shapes have a clear silhouette. Clear silhouettes are the strongest tool we have in recognizing body language. This is the first thing you will need to know in order to communicate the clearest message throughout your animation. We will practice how to get the most meaning out of a pose through its outline and learn the difference between good and bad silhouette.
Combine silhouette with gesture and you will have the knowledge to tackle any pose. An understanding of gesture will give your pose life! Good gesture will flow in a meaningful and appealing way that leads the eye where it needs to go. If you draw, you will learn how to expand on your talent and apply it to computer animation. If you don't draw, don't worry, we will get you started in a very simple way that will push your animation skills to a new level. If you can draw a line you are good to go!
Transitions and Timing
From the time it takes to read a pose to the time it takes for an action to occur; we will learn the effects of time and how adjusting it can drastically change a character's performance and his/her intentions.
We will study arcs: how to simplify them, and how best to apply them to our animation. Arcs give a purpose to every action, large or small. Figuring out what arcs to use can be difficult, so we will break down what arcs do, the broad spectrum of their use, and finally understand their place.
Body Structure and Believability
We will learn how to animate your character in a way that feels right and allows the audience to forget they are watching a cartoon. Throughout the course, we will help your animation maintain convincing structural rules, as well as break those rules in a way that doesn't pull your audience out of the experience of the performance.
Subtlety and Exaggeration
Subtle acting is often more difficult than exaggerated. We will practice examples of both and emphasize the importance of getting what you need out of the unyielding computer.
This is in reference to anticipating an action with a thought. An action will feel more convincing if we see a clear thought first. The challenge lies in showing this with only the body. This acts to help define the motivation of our characters as well as lead the eye before the action occurs.
Body Performance Analysis
We will study some of the masters of performance through pantomime, as well as illustrators whose understanding brings clarity and captivating presence to their work.
Whether you choose to use a mirror or a camera, we will go over some brief techniques to help you get started using reference and give your animation style.
We will isolate a few acting beats, and break down how they work. Examples may include a simple head turn, a sigh, sipping coffee, hiding behind a tree, reacting to something, etc.
The course will start simple and ease into more complex exercises to help guide you through each of these topics.
Main animation subjects of this online course
Silhouette, gesture, transitions, timing, arcs, body structure, believability, subtlety, exaggeration, anticipation, body performance analysis, reference tips, acting beats, clarity of ideas