With the beginning of the workshops there are questions trickling in regarding shots and one of them was regarding a weight exercise and I thought I'd post the answer here.
"You can do a straight forward weight exercise, sure! If you want it reel wise, I would place the weight action among an overall action. So it's not just a guy in an empty room lifting a box, but maybe it's kitchen guy and it's rush hour, you just see frantic arms from a window that wave, signaling that they are waiting for the dish and he has to hurry. And the guy is trying to lift and bring over a huge plate with a pig head on it (and apple in its mouth). Maybe half way through another kitchen guy runs through the kitchen cutting him off so he has to stop, do a 360 and then continues.
Something like that. :)
Just think about movies you've seen (real and animated) where a character is lifting, pulling, pushing, throwing or doing something involving weight. You wouldn't think immediately that this is a weight assignment because it's part of a story and maybe buried as a secondary action within an overall goal of the shot.
The reason why I would go beyond just a simple exercise set up (unmodified character and set) is because it forces you think about the character and what he did before and what he's going to do. You're placing the character within an environment and that forces him (and in return you) to think about that space and that will influence his behavioral choices (and your acting choices). Add conflict to the situation and that will influence his choices as well. All those choices show us what type of character he/she/it is and ultimately that is the goal of your animation, to go beyond the physical motion and to add character.
And that to me is a good thing to show on a reel, since ultimately, when you're working on a production, you will have to think about all those things and concentrate on the character and the acting choices. I think it shows potential employers that you are thinking beyond the exercise and beyond the simpler act of moving things around.
And to me, this type of shot is also more fun and it shows in your shot when you have fun or if you're bored with an exercise."