Sunday, August 1, 2010

Act It Out - Animation Preproduction Planning

In 2009 I made a post about "Acting It Out"! That post features a video clip of the great Ian Lacey passionately delivering a message to animation students. The message is still relevant (even though we have phones these days that drive your car and make morning coffee).

Actually I have a blog post label over on the side there called "planning". There is also one screaming "Act it Out". There is some interesting information under those links. Just for the 'hey' of it I'll say it again, planning. Hey!

Animators are a good looking bunch of bananas.

Animators act out an animation sequence to get ideas on timing (an animation principle), posing and a variety of acting choices.

But there is another reason why animation students should act it out. Have you ever seen an animator's brain explode? Sometimes it can be messy. Really messy. All that pressure builds up and BOUMPLATHFF! Hopefully just a little puff of steam comes out of the ears and the head bumps noisily on the desk. Sometimes it's a volcanic Vesuvius of ideas vomit. Not pretty. It happens to animators who think that animation is created at a computer.

Acting it out gets the animation out of the brain and into the body. Acting it out gets it out of the migraine and onto video reference tape. It gets it out of the brain where it is a swirling fog and into ruff marks on paper.

Stay pretty. Act it out.

This post is brought to you by the animation student who... 3 weeks into semester, 3 weeks into a new animation project, where we are: working through brainstorming; thumbnailing ideas; storyboarding; acting it out and collecting video reference; ruffing out sketches; recreating, critiquing and improving key, story telling, golden poses... after one of my lectures about animation being created in the planning, while looking longingly at a computer, asked, "Are we going to do some animation today?"

People, we are animating every day. I guess the beauty is that some of us don't realise it.

The clip below is an exercise in finding key poses from Acting It Out and taking video reference. The first years are animating some dialogue of Jack Black from the film "School of Rock". There are some ripper poses in this example. The animators have been AfterEffected to protect their identities from the paparazzi. With a bit of exaggeration (an animation principle), there is potential for some rockin' animation!

The teacher character's dialogue in this clip is anathema to the actual teaching of animation going on in class. It's text! We see through the skin of text to the core of subtext. It's an animator's superpower - animator's eyes! Narrative x-ray vision!


Scheree said...

Frank, that video looks awesome.

and the rest was very informative :)

Frank said...

Hi Scheree. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

I was noticing that the pacing and timing of the "Act it Out" video reference for each studio didn't exactly match the dialogue. But there were some awesome efforts in trying to get those key 'rock'n'roll' poses.

Finding the key poses and holding them in the hooks seemed an elegant solution. It is what the animators are doing with the stick figure ruff layers in Flash.

This was just another way to do it.

It might be aa logical way for some animators to try.

Johnny said...

After doing my key poses in flash over my reference video, I realised it could be pushed a hella lot further to a more extreme rockin' pose...

Frank said...

Excellent discovery Johnny. That is exactly correct. Despite animators pushing their acting skills to the limit reality does not give us evertything. I think Mick Jagger terms it, "You can't always get what you want" [pout].

The magic of animation is taking what we learn from reality and making something better.