My previous experiments weren’t very successful, I gained some new knowledge and received feedback but there was something missing. My research is about facial animation and how much can it improve the final performance, but first I need to understand how much emotions does a character express only with his body movement. For example, in this short animation, “The Lindy Cubes” characters are very simple, they’re just cubes without any facial features, but it is still very entertaining to watch and keeps the viewer interested.
That’s why this week I picked up a simple, faceless rig, and decided to redo my previous experiments. I am not entirely satisfied with the results, there are still some technical errors and I actually don’t think that picking these stories worked well with that rig. By looking back at it I can see that I could have used more extreme poses. When it comes to my bird watching experiment, it was pointed out to me that I had too many poses in a very short time and it just was not working out, so I tried making it simpler this time. The thing that I feel needs improvement in my animation is getting timing right.
After receiving feedback last week, I looked at the mistakes I’ve done and tried improving them this week. it was pointed out to me that even that I was focusing on animating someone watching something I haven’t done anything to the eyes. This week I’ve used another rig called “John”. John is middle aged guy who just came back from work and wanted to spend some time alone reading his favourite newspaper, however he got interrupted by a fly. Another thing that was pointed out to me was character’s inner monologue, even in a very short, test animation. So I also tried doing that in this animation. That’s why while he’s reading his newspaper his eyebrows are rising, and he’s blinking to show his thinking and his understanding of what’s he’s reading.
A while back, during our tutorials we were talking about pose vs movement. Our goal as animators is to create action, because animation is all about the movement and body language. Often what we see can give us more powerful impression than what we hear. In his book, “Acting for Animators”, Ed Hooks says that “Movement is almost always a result of thinking and emotion”, so as an animator I have to focus on what is this character’s background, why is he doing it? Hooks quotes Walt Stanchfield who said “draw the verb, not the noun”. Hooks explains that it means that the drawing/pose should be able to tell the story. He gives an example of a women looking at a bird in the tree, he says that she should be actively looking at it, not just tilting her head. I was confused what does that actually mean, but as he says earlier, the movement is always about thinking and emotions so my job is to give them to the character. For example one way of doing that would be blinking. My plan was to achieve that and capture the inner emotions of the character while she’s watching the birds.
Here’s the unfinished, blocked animation:
Hooks E., 2011. Acting for Animators. 3 Edition. Routledge.