Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Acting Reference - Epic "Price is right" Win

This youtube clip of Taylor winning prizes is just fantastic. It has so many great reactions! Watch how he's nervous, unsure, happy, excited, in shock, etc. Watch the clip:

So first, he makes his introduction with his first bid for the scooter. He's anxious, doesn't waste a second to announce his price right after the other guy, then cheers himself on and ends with his arms up. What an introduction. That guys stands out for sure.

Now watch as he wins. The three contestants next to him all shoot around and look at him while he's still looking straight ahead. He has no clue, then does a double take and erupts in cheers.

He then runs up to the stage in a fantastic way, watch that little hop he does at the end. Awesome!

As he gets up there he announces that it's his birthday. Again, watch his mannerisms. He's clearly excited. :)

As the potential price rolls out, he can't believe it. Yes, he does lift his arms a lot, but the fact that gets on his knees is great.

Once they do the commercial for the price, watch the awesome frame entrance of Taylor. He's running towards the car and caressing his "precious".

Ok, now he has to work for it. Watch his hands, how he handles the pressure, the way he grabs his shirt, his pants, etc.

He looks nervously to the audience every now and then, fumbles with this hands, constantly shifts weight. scratches his legs, he just can't stay still. Until the host explains to him what he has to do. For a brief moment he doesn't move and tries to listen to the onslaught of verbal advice.

But of course, given the circumstances, the pressure, the attention span of a 19 year old, he wanders away and the host has to reign him in. It's so great to see how the host tries to explain hings and the kid's mind is already set on figuring out the prices. Watch as the host mentions the dollar bills or the car, how Taylor then exactly looks at those objects.

Even when he says "Six" it's not just him saying the number, there's a great little gesture he does while he says it.

Ahhh. but he was pretty off. Great camera work because you want to see the excitement or disappointed. And Taylor certainly looks a bit more serious here.

Less fidgety now, but still scratches his leg, still shifting weights though. Since he did a mistake he really wants the support from the audience, but they are just yelling. Even Taylor has to smile as he looks at them going "What?"

Now the second number. Again, he's not just saying the number and standing there. Oh no. First the trademark hand swing but then he looks away...

does a little hop and kneels down. If your shot assignment was "Guy guessing number and waits." and you'd do this I would kneel in front of you. :)

Again, great little gesture faced with the good news, then back to the twitchy nature trying to listen to the audience. So he then makes another choice and you know that he will do an arm gesture while saying the number, but as the tension gets bigger so does his gesture. And it's followed by another gesture towards the audience.

And lucky enough, he guesses the exact number and the reaction is AWESOME! Watch as he starts running around! That guy just cracks me up.

Now onto the last number. Yes, he still gestures as he says it, but it's much more contained, he's so excited/nervous, so much in fact that he gets on the ground and looks away. He's topping every anticipation.

And can you believe it, he was right. It's so great to see Drew Carry's reaction first and how happy he is, then Taylor.

But the awesomeness doesn't end there. Now onto the spinning wheel. And he can't just spin it, no, he jumps up and hangs on to it first. Awesome. Whatever a "normal" person would do, he just brings it up a notch. Watch as he gives a shout out to his family, that little kiss and the hair flick. Ahhh, hair flick. You never see that in CG. Anyway. As you can guess, he wins again. :)

By now you can imagine that he's going to win so big, it's just a joy to watch him top himself in terms of gestures and behavior. So remember the first spin? Well, he's topping it with the second one:

And yes, he wins again. Unbelievable. The reaction? Over the top again, even bigger than before with a spin on the floor. There is so much reference material for being happy/excited/in shock.

Now follows an awesome contrast. He's told he could win a huge flag, which is not really exciting and you can tell by Taylor's face that he's acting out the excitement, but even then, it's clear that he doesn't care about the flag. As they continue to explain the showcase, watch how he's suddenly still. Great moment of eye darts and him thinking. As they reveal "Boston" he does a great little gesture (and the hair flick of course):

So they explain the hotel and vacation details, more thinking on Taylor's part, and the prize? ANOTHER car. Taylor is exhausted by now that even this price is too much for him. No huge reaction, he's just anxious to keep going. The next bit is almost a Wallstreet hand sign type of thing. :)

And of course he wins. The reaction is not as big, but how can you after all that. :)

- found @ Dvorak

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What should I animate? - pt.2 exercises

Alright, so this is an extension to the "What should I animate?" post, which was focusing more on the demo reel side. But what if you don't care about the reel, what if you just want to practice and treat the shot as an exercise? What should you animate then? You can easily create a list of things, just keep the shot short. It's also up to you to add complexity to it. So let's see:

Bouncing ball
  • pure physics
  • physics with tail
  • obstacle course
=> same as before but with added squash and stretch
=> same as before but with added character

  • walk
  • run
  • sneak
=> expand cycle into unique shot

Body Mechanics
  • jump
  • fall
  • stumble
  • faint
  • getting out of/into chair
  • walking up/down stairs/ladder
  • getting/climbing over obstacle
  • swinging from something to something
  • lifting/carrying/pulling/pushing something heavy/medium/light
  • any athletic activity
  • fights (punch/kick/slap/martial arts)
For instance walking/running/stumbling down the stairs. I once found this image @ vvkonline and what a great set for that exercise (not saying that you should rip him off!).

Specific gestures/movements with a goal in mind, not just mechanics
  • grabbing something, for instance getting a drink, but the acting changes depending on the emotion (bored/thirsty/shy/etc.)
  • putting a hat on (or any other clothing)
  • putting something together (puzzle piece/maquette/decoration)
  • opening/closing a door
  • getting in or out of something (car/bathtub/rainy spot/etc.)
So let's say you're animating someone putting on a hat. You might think "What? That's boring.". Well, can you do it as well as shown in this clip?

clip is not on that blog anymore, sorry

Emotional takes/gear changes
  • switch from one emotion to another

  • expresse emotions through body/facial acting only, no sound

  • get used to sticking to a certain timing, pick short sentences or even just words, shouts, sigh, grunts, laughter, cry and animate the face only (upper body as well, treat it as a close up)
  • full body acting
  • longer dialogue
  • longer dialogue involving complex emotions
  • two+ person dialogue

If you've done all that and feel bored then take any section and combine it with another one:
- tennis player looses his game, screams in frustration and breaks his raquet, then falls on his knees. He starts walking on his knees towards the referee, begging him to change the score, the referee doesn't care. Player gets up and stomps away while the other player in the background is surrounded by photographers and fans lusting for autographs. You can add sound to that and break the action up into separate shots for a sequence.

Now, that's just for a biped. You have the whole animal kingdom to explore as well. You can treat the animals as real ones and go through mechanics and movements or combine animal movements with anthropomorphic behaviour.

Again, if you start mixing exercises across all sections the possibilities are endless.

There are many more exercises, so feel free to add your ideas in the comments section.


Animation Mentor Newsletter - November 2008

Another month, another newsletter from AM! For the November AM Newsletter you get:

- Animating for IMAX 3-D
- Special Report: Behind the Characters: Job Satisfaction, Career Outlook, and Salary Survey Report
- Animation Mentor at Disneyland
- From Visualization to Animation: See your ideas come to life
- Eric Goldberg Part 2 Podcast
- Haokun Liang's Short Film
- Mentor: Morgan Kelly (Dreamworks Animation)
- Student: Patrick Gschwind
- What brings a scene to life?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Acting Reference - Life "Did you feel that?"

Go to and check out the Life episode "Did you feel that?". Besides being a cool show, this one has a cool ending. Go to the 37min 30sec mark as shown below and watch that hostage sequence.

There are many things that I thought were really cool (the characters on that show are just a lot of fun). But in terms of animation it's a neat example of looks and eyes and blinks.

It's interesting to see the mannerisms of the bad guy (pic above) change, from relaxed/cocky to tense and frustrated.

His gaze is usually pretty steady, but here (pic above) he's suddenly checking out the partner, because he knows his power is diminishing. It's a simple look, but in the grand scheme of this sequence, a telling one.

His emotion clearly changes towards the end, as he starts to get annoyed.

Now that people are doubting each other the cop latches on and really pressures the weak hostage taker. You can see the pleasure in his face (he's usually pretty serious).

Now the guy above. He's shoving his gun into the hostage's neck. But once he's doubting his partner, he loosens up and readjusts the gun. That little readjust is subtle, but a nice gesture for a somewhat bland character.

My favorite part is the countdown (pic below).

There's a nice little connection between the cop and the kid hostage.

After he signals the kid that he's about t0 count down, there's a cute little acknowledgment by the kid.

A single picture doesn't show you the little head move he does, so make sure you watch that sequence. It's nothing Oscar worthy or earth shattering, but all in all a cool hostage resolve moment.

Little eye dart. Subtle, but effective for that moment.

Then a quick intense look as he shoots the guy. It's a very short shot, but it helps to give it that extra emotional kick.

Hulu is free, so go to the site and check out that sequence.