Emotions Of Pixar

https://vimeo.com/129634826

In anticipation of "Inside Out", I made a video showcasing the emotions in Pixar movies.
Hope you like pop music and mush!

Edited By Lindsay McCutcheon
Music: Breathe Me - Sia & You Know We Can't Go Back - Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Movies:
Toy Story
A Bug's Life
Toy Story 2
Monster's Inc
Finding Nemo
The Incredibles
Cars
Ratatouille
Wall-E
Up
Toy Story 3
Brave
Monster's University

Thanks to Rishi Kaneria's "ROYGBIV" for the title screen idea.


Comedy For Animators

There is a great blog called Comedy For Animators... check it out! The goal is to teach animators about the art of physical comedy as practiced by the masters.

About Comedy for Animators

Intended for animators, story artists, writers and development executives, Comedy for Animators is a book written to introduce you to the remarkable art of physical comedy.   If you want to make  funny cartoons, it’s critical to understand this unique history of characters and stories.   Animation teachers have long told students to “study the great silent comedians.”  You could watch hundreds of hours of silent films, and read a hundred books on theater and film history, then spend time analyzing what you saw and read.  Or you could simply buy this book.  I have done all that for you.  From the ancient Greeks to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.  From vaudeville to recent film stars like Rowan Atkinson and Jackie Chan.  I also include tips from Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston and other animators.  I have sifted through vast amounts of material, searching for the most useful concepts to share.  All of it presented to help animators create unforgettable characters and films.


Top Ten Posts On Comedy For Animators


Celebrity Nano-Impressions with Ross Marquand

I love watching good impressions because it starts at the heart of what every character animator is looking for...
that one idiosyncratic move or gesture
that cues recognition of what/who you are looking at.  
Plus these are funny in context.


The Shinning - Jack Nicholson preppin' for The Shining

Jack Nicholson preppin' for The Shining

Get into character before you record your reference footage!


Acting - Sympathetic Doesn't Have To Mean Likable

Likeability VS Vulnerability in your characters is the difference between sympathy and EMPATHY in your work.  You want your audience to EMPATHIZE with your characters.  I was looking at some pitches yesterday from students for new comedic acting pieces and many were pretty brutal with anger, pain or intensity of emotions that needed more backstory.  If you do not set-up the character in some way to have a vulnerable moment where we see motivations for these actions, they just feel like an empty, soulless character.  Look for ways to show the vulnerability in your characters, even if it's just a micro-expression and you can have them do most anything in your shots.

Anima Okul Uyku / Sleep

I think I am gonna add a sleep snippet next block at iAnimate, fantastic!

Richard Hickey - Francis

I am covering cinematic tension with my students at USC this week.  
This piece nails how to build cinematic tension... lovely!

The story of ‘Francis’ came about interestingly from famed radio show 'This American Life'. Broadcaster Ira Glass asked 6 American writers to create a short story about Adventure. One ofthese stories written by novelist & screenwriter Dave Eggars, it was read on the show to much acclaim and praise., Richard worked with producer Kevin Batten & a team to turn the words into this short. He worked on the film tirelessly & had 40 people work on all elements of the animation. The film has been shown atCannes Film Festival and Raindance.


Honesty in Acting

Ten Things to Think About - #8 Honesty

10 Things to Think About - from the book Thinking Animation by Angie Jones and Jamie Oliff.
 
This is one of the lectures I use at the online school ianimate.net.  I created this list for my book Thinking Animation to help animators create a clear and solid message with their work.  I will post the 10 Things to Think About over the course of the next 10 weeks.  ~Enjoy!


#8  Honesty:

  • A shy character would never jump out front and center and do a dance, and an angry character wouldn’t act sympathetically to other characters.
  •  A great example of honesty is the cartoon character - Bugs Bunny.  Making Bugs looks stupid and inept is just too far out of character for him.  He is always in control even if he is losing.
  • In contrast to Bugs Bunny's cool sarcastic ways is the wacky, hyper and high-strung – never be nonchalant about things that happen in the story – Daffy Duck.
When characters act against who they are and what they believe in,
it kills the illusion and makes the acting and story weak.

Bug’s Life Bloopers show commitment to character and honesty.  You can find honesty ideas for your acting if you think of your character as a friend of yours.  If you picture going out and having beers with your character you get to really know who they are and how they would react to things.

Psychological Gesture

Learning - Ten Things to Think About - #7 Texture and Psychological Gesture

10 Things to Think About - from the book Thinking Animation by Angie Jones and Jamie Oliff.
 
This is one of the lectures I use at the online school ianimate.net.  I created this list for my book Thinking Animation to help animators create a clear and solid message with their work.  I will post the 10 Things to Think About over the course of the next 10 weeks.  ~Enjoy!


#7 Texture and Psychological Gesture:

  • Psychological gesture is a great way to illustrate subtext
  • A psychological gesture describes what the character is thinking through twitches and gestures like;  Looking around the room, scratching their head, yawning, biting their lip, etc.
  • Picture a stewardess giving her routine presentation before the flight takes off about safety on the plane.  Now picture her seeming preoccupied? maybe looking around or rubbing the nose. Or tired? Yawning, rubbing of head could illustrate this. Or visibly upset over a conversation she had just before? Tension in the body and face could be a cue.
  • Figure out how you would react in the same circumstances.  Without betraying your own character, put a little of yourself into the shot.
  • Discover your character’s motivation and how that can be revealed in the performance.
  • You goal is to create a character that moves you and your audience, not just the dialog.
  • Texture is what adds life to your animation.

Example of texture between two characters.  Tex Avery's Little Rural Riding Hood wolves.  Watch how the city wolf and country wolf move.  The city wolf continues to walk smoothly with his nose up in the air like Ronald Coleman.  The country wolf is going nuts.

"Psychological Gesture is the inner essence of something manifested in a physical form"  ~Michael Chekhov

How do you find the right Psychological Gesture?

One path created is called, Leading Questions, in which you cultivate your imagination by asking questions. Your imagination will respond instantly and your body will begin to express the movement in small ways before you can even verbalize your answers.

For example: if you are playing a villain, you might begin by asking what it is your character desires. Power? Okay, how do you go about getting power? By dominating? Okay, what is a physical movement that dominates? Pressing down.  Start with your hands as high as possible and press them down against an imaginary resistance. Picture the character's opponents as you press down to the floor. Add to the press a quality: rage, frustration, sinister, conniving, fear, etc. Try different qualities until you feel the quality and desire to dominate in every cell of your being.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman is one of my favorite actors and this scene illustrates some great psychological gesture moments, not just with him, but the other actors in the scenes as well.  The clip above is the scene where Dan Mahowny (Philip Seymour Hoffman) arrives in Atlantic City in big-style (private-jet, Full VIP admission).  After winning 9M $, he decides not to stop gambling and continues until he loses everything,
At 1:18 You can see the worry in the actor screen left (Bernie's) face and how he holds his hand to his face, the smugness on the actor's face screen right and the concern and preoccupation of the Casio security (Victor Foss') face and body leaning forward in the center of the frame.
Watch for psychological gestures from the actors like: pushing the glasses up, looking around nervously, looking at a watch, leading with the forehead in thought and concentration, licking of lips, blowing of air out the mouth like a sigh, rubbing of hands together, heavy breathing, lots of blinks, gulps,jaw clenching, head twitches and nods, looking away, covering eyes, touching forehead in thought, etc.  It's all there.

Acting Simplify

Learning - Ten Things to Think About - #6 Simplify

10 Things to Think About - from the book Thinking Animation by Angie Jones and Jamie Oliff.
 
This is one of the lectures I use at the online school ianimate.net.  I created this list for my book Thinking Animation to help animators create a clear and solid message with their work.  I will post the 10 Things to Think About over the course of the next 10 weeks.  ~Enjoy!


The story goes... There is one shot in this sequence that was kicked back by lighting because they though the animation was lost.  The animator set one pose for the entire shot because that is all the shot needed, but it confused the lighters.  When they sent it back to animation, fearing somehow the animation curves had been lost, they discovered - "no" the pose was approved as the animation.

Can you get which shot it is?
It starts around 1:29 of this clip.

The point is not to stop animating your characters for your shots, but to understand that simplifying your ideas to create the clearest message is the best way to communicate with your audience.

#6 Simplify:

  • Too many poses and acting choices just muddle up the idea.
  • A memorable character is animated through strong, deliberate acting.
  • Simplicity will give the viewer time to rest and appreciate the moment.
  • The eyes follow what is moving most if the scene is quiet.
  • The eyes follow what is moving the lest if the scene is busy.
  • Be clear fist, add interest second.
  • Draw focus to the one thing that matters - heart of the scene.
  • Simplicity results when you have exhausted all other steps.

Empathy - Gregory Peck

Learning - Ten Things to Think About - #5 Empathy

10 Things to Think About - from the book Thinking Animation by Angie Jones and Jamie Oliff.
 
This is one of the lectures I use at the online school ianimate.net.  I created this list for my book Thinking Animation to help animators create a clear and solid message with their work.  I will post the 10 Things to Think About over the course of the next 10 weeks.  ~Enjoy!


#5 Empathy:  If the audience does not empathize with your character all is lost.

  • Empathy takes place when the audience sees something in the character that they have experienced.
  • Examples – Your crazy Uncle who likes to drink strawberry milkshakes and make shadow puppets on the wall. The sweet doting grandmother who makes scrapbooks of everything her grandchildren do. The bully who beat you up every day in the school yard.
  • Picture your character as a longtime friend to get inside their head.
Charlie Chaplin is the king of creating empathy for his "little tramp" character.  He always stays in each moment.  He is acting from a place of keeping his integrity as he navigates the many classes he encounters in his movies.  In this clip he fawn's over a woman in the display window whom he had met before in the film when she was blind and selling flowers on the street.  When she first met him, she thought he had a lot of money.

This time, she offers him a flower and some change from the window.  Once he realizes she is coming out to talk to him, he tries to walk away so she cannot see he is a tramp with no money because she did not meet him before as such. She doesn't know he is the person who paid for her operation to get her sight back. he is fearful of exposing his true self to her.  Observe he never leaves his own space to invade hers as he is reluctant to get close, yet he wants to.  We want what he wants, "To talk to this beautiful woman and have her accept him as who he is inside."

Here is some amazing analysis of Chaplin's brilliance.  He is always trying to keep his integrity as a human when placed in difficult situations.

THE IMPORTANCE OF EMPATHY

  • All humans -- even the most vile -- act to survive. From birth to death, every waking moment, we act to survive. Empathic reaction depends on the actor finding in his character survival mechanisms.
This third year film from Cal Arts student Mike Rianda also illustrates a great arc of empathy for the character. Finding Empathy... you want what they want. I want to root for your characters in your animations... like I am hoping the little guy in this short will get what he wants - those moon shoes!  His arc then changes.  he no longer wants to work and wants to play again with his friends.  great stuff!
  • We empathize with emotion. If you see someone cut her finger, you flinch because you empathize with the feeling of pain. When the on-screen heroine's lover is reported killed at war, it is her emotion that we empathize with, not the information itself.

Why do we feel for Frank and Rita?  We have all seen a relative have difficult times with technology.  Especially since most animators today have to understand the basics of a computer.  Also, Frank and Rita are endearing because in this short clip their relationship is revealed.  You can tell they have been together a long time and have their own way of communicating.

 

 

How you occupy space and move within it is as important to empathy as the acting choices you make as an animator.  Butoh is about presence and the simplicity of a single gesture.  You become very aware of how you are occupying the space through one simple movement.  You become something without just acting it, but embody the emotion. Butoh creates a sense of space and time.  You become aware of the body in 3 dimensions.  Taking the body to pieces and bring it back together as a new form of communication.

  • Empathy is a survival mechanism. Find depth in your character. Justify their existence.
  • Villain = Normal person with a fatal flaw. Show a "window" into your villain's humanity.
  • To find that "window" remember gestures that are shadow movements of where the character is instead of what the character is saying. Scratching nose, sniffing, etc. replace overacting with these telling gestures.
  • Stifled emotions can be much better than the full blown emotion.
  • People do not share their emotions easily = we are guarded.
  • Example: If character is cold, don't shiver...have the character try to stay warm!!
  • EMPATHY, is the most important thing about acting. People to study, Charlie Chaplin = empathy; Buster Keaton = sympathy; Harold Lloyd, etc. People relate to emotion.

Chaplin Story to explain the different between sympathy and empathy.Let's say Chaplin gets his foot stuck in a bucket. Buster Keaton would try to shake it off erratically to get the quick, cheap laugh. Chaplin would try to keep his dignity and through embarrassment hide the bucket behind him causing empathy for his problem. This is more clever and more funny. The laughter can be stretched too through his trying to hide the fact his foot is tuck in the bucket. After the initial erratic move by Keaton the laugh is done and it looked practiced in the first place.

  • Act to survive, we all do it to live...what is the survival mechanism in this character?
  • Charlie Chaplin's Autobiography-- said "conceptual is common to people regardless to country--universals are important to silent film."
  • Empathy is different than Sympathy, this is why Charlie Chaplin was the bigger star.

 


Experiement

Learning - Ten Things to Think About - #3 Experiment

10 Things to Think About - from the book Thinking Animation by Angie Jones and Jamie Oliff.
 

This is one of the lectures I use at the online school ianimate.net.  I created this list for my book Thinking Animation to help animators create a clear and solid message with their work.  I will post the 10 Things to Think About over the course of the next 10 weeks.  ~Enjoy!


#3 Experiment

Try every idea that comes to you!

  • Monty Python went with any idea one of them had even if the others didn’t like it. They gave anything a chance to live on.
  • Animation is a caricature.
  • The job is to capture the impression, not imitate.
  • Animation can play with time – compress or expand as well as push action to its limit.
  • The best comedians experiment and ad lib their scenes over and over.

In the clip above from the movie - A Fish Called Wanda, John Cleese and Micheal Palin (1/3rd of the Monty Python players) do an incredible job of creating tension.  Palin stretches time as long as he can with his stutter to almost drive Cleese's character mad. Most of the best scenes you see in movies with professional comedians were either 'ad libbed' while on camera, or a warm up rehearsal of improvisational study of the lines created even more experimentation of the possibilities that could exist within the scope of the scene.  Expand your boundaries, when exploring and experimenting.  Comedy, especially needs to breathe.  Have fun!

This is one of my most favorite movies.  It makes me laugh every time.  John Cleese wrote the script with Charles Crichton.

Trivia:  A Fish Called Wanda has the distinction of being the only movie we know of that killed someone with laughter. OLE BENTZEN (Danish physician, d.1989) An audiologist who specialized in developing hearing aids for underdeveloped countries, Bentzen went to see the film A Fish Called Wanda. During a scene featuring John Cleese, Bentzen began laughing so hard that his heartbeat accelerated to a rate of between 250 and 500 beats a minute and he was seized by a heart attack and died. Ole Bentzen is number nine on a list of people who died from laughing.

BTW, you can read the screenplay for a Fish Called Wanda - here.

The clip below is one of the best blackmail clips ever...


Subtext in Animation

Learning - Ten Things to Think About - #2 Subtext

 

 

10 Things to Think About - from the book Thinking Animation by Angie Jones and Jamie Oliff.

 This is one of the lectures I use at the online school ianimate.net.  I created this list for my book Thinking Animation to help animators create a clear and solid message with their work.  I will post the 10 Things to Think About over the course of the next 10 weeks.  ~Enjoy!

#2 Subtext:Adding subtext is one of the best ways to get depth and dimension into your performance. Human beings are multileveled creatures.  Saying one thing while meaning another.   The clip above is subtext acted wihtin more subtext.  Matt LeBlanc's character is talking about the script, but he is really talking about his relationship with her... as is she.  they are both using the script to describe their own relationship - Great stuff!

 

The Iceberg:  The acting teacher above explains how the iceberg analogy works.  If you create a bio for your character, you will have created the fodder to pull from for any subtext your character will be exuding when they speak.  Again, we never really say what we mean.  I can say "I love you," and mean I really despise you.  Think about it - it's juicy scenes that have subtext.

Flaws: What makes us interesting are our flaws. Perfection is boring. Humans have flaws. They hid their feelings. They have a lack of boundaries. They have an agenda. They have a past that forms their perspective on the world, which can be skewed. Dig underneath the dialog to figure out what the character is really saying in between the lines.


Listen

Learning - Ten Things to Think About - #1 Listen

10 Things to Think About - from the book Thinking Animation by Angie Jones and Jamie Oliff.
This is one of the lectures I use at the online school ianimate.net.  I created this list for my book Thinking Animation to help animators create a clear and solid message with their work.  I will post the 10 Things to Think About over the course of the next 10 weeks.  ~Enjoy!


If you animate without a plan, you will waste bucket loads of time.
Think and Plan Your Shot Out:
  • Create and/or find reference, act the scene out
  • Take notes on what you see from these experiences
  • Draw gestures and make thumbnails for the most important storytelling poses
  • Use at least 3 words to describe the arcs going on in the scene - try to make them verbs, or action words
  • Share your ideas with others
It’s best to analyze for at least a day if you can... to figure out what the character’s desire is and what the obstacle to that desire might be.  Deadlines, may be looming, but the time you spend planning will create a more clear path for you once you pick up the mouse.
Exploration:
Simplicity is the key to creating a clear idea.  Until every idea is out of your system, overused and cliche poses will continue to arise as you animate.  Do not clutter storytelling poses with too many ideas.  Your first idea is usually too obvious and not as interesting as your 50th.  Try to see the entire shot in your head. before you ever pick up the mouse.
Improv actors play games b4 they go on stage to warm up.  This helps them work out all the trite and overused ideas.  Drawings also help you think about your ideas more deeply.  I encourage you to draw.  Take the most important idea in the scene and work out from there.
Questions to ask yourself…
  • Is the most interesting and clearest possible way?
  • Does the idea fit this character's personality?
  • Am I exploring the possibilities of the scene?
  • Is my ego too involved?
  • What is being said between the lines of dialog - is there subtext?
  • What significance does the scene have to previous and later shots?
  • What is the purpose of this scene in the movie?

1. Listen:
  • Listen to what your lead, sup and/or director tells you closely.  I have sat next to many newbie animators on a show and heard what they were told for art direction, only to come to dailies the next day and see that they didn;t heard a word they were being told.  Your supervisors know what is expected fo the scene so LISTEN.
  • Listen to the dialog and observe the pauses and accented points that you might not catch when you are actually listening to what is being said.
  • Loop the dialog and listen to it over and over. Stories unfold themselves if we really listen. Detach yourself from the shiny parts and let the story tell you what is essential.
  • Stream of consciousness notes: write down trigger words as you listen to the dialog with your eyes closed.
  • If you have an improv class nearby you can take, I highly encourage you to do so.  95% of improv is listening.  You have to listen to what the other person is saying to plus or heighten the scene beyond what it is.

Actors Acting

Acting - 14 Actors


What a find!
Great reference for facial, movement and performance!
These were my favorites.