Characterization is the act of bringing to life and expressing the personality of a person, animal, or thing, through the exposition of thought processes, mannerisms, actions, dialogue, timing and physical appearance. We must know the character that we place in this context, who they are, how they are specific and unique in their actions and personality. Determine what will give the action character and identification with an audience. When actions are motivated by the character's thought process, then a personality will come through, not just a generic action. Discover the right kinds of action for the character and act them, feel them. Don't allow actions to appear routine.
DESCRIPTION - Gender, age and history.
EMOTIONAL - Emotional makeup, prime emotional state.
PSYCHOLOGICAL - Motivations, thought processes.
PHYSICAL - In expressing a character's appearance, form and content are inseparable. Structure, shape, and details should reflect that.
ACTIONS - Mobility, mannerisms and timing. WHAT is on screen and HOW it is presented, the visual presentation of thinking time.
- Anticipate the action with "on-a-line" motion; the audience must be ready for what is going to happen.
- Kinds of Anticipation:
- Picking a flower - looking, coming up and going down into the pick.
- A jump - squat first.
- Running through a door - coming back on a line with the door.
- In general - always an 'up' before a 'down', a 'back' before a 'forward' a 'look' before a 'grab'; do the motion that leads into the motion.
- Anticipation done in an overlapping previous action when the scene is not very important.
Exaggeration - Caricature:
- Enlarge on drawings and tell the story just as clearly as possible with that drawing.
Examples: Man looking in a vase; he should be up above, leaning over it; there is no doubt he is looking into it.
Man hitting something with a hammer. Anticipation: arms back, body high and arched, on his toes; where he has hit the object he is down extremely low - object is squashed. There are likely no drawings from the place where the hammer starts to come down and squashed on the object - maybe a blur - then a rebound in the man from the force of the hit. That's the result - a moving hold of six to ten frames - then react into straight drawing.
- The assistant must not just 'clean up' - he is not working over the same ground, but is exaggerating what the animator has drawn.
- Enlarge the equipment (props) used by the character. e.g.: character with a big tennis racket, glove, bat - character is small in comparison.
- What to use in place of speed lines:
- Stretching is better than speed lines. e.g.: character with the racket arm pulling through - he is moving his arm a great distance in a short period of time, the stretch looks more solid than the speed lines.
- The old way of looking at a 'hold' - as a number on an exposure sheet, something stiff and frozen.
- Try looking at 'holds' - as moving all the time; a 'moving hold' which is actually 3 trace back drawings of the held drawing and then cycled randomly, however, this can't be sustained on screen for a long time as it becomes obvious.
- Use a lot of drawings settling into a hold.
- coming out of a hold is generally slow; use more frames.
- 'Accent' the hold by coming into it with fewer drawings.
- It is the Result that is held. In exposing, you start the eye of the audience in one direction with one or two drawings; then you show the result; enough exposure must be put in to show the result; that is called a 'hold' - not one drawing, but a group of drawings!
- Work with the director in acting things out and timing them.
Walk: Soldiers march about 120 steps to the minute or two steps to the second, this works out to 12 frames per step (6 drawings on two's).
Run: On the above example - about twice as fast as the walk; 8 frames per step (4 drawings on two's but you may want to animate on one's to make the action read properly).
- Working with 24 frames per second;
- you know how long the character is going to be on the scene.
- you know how fast they move.
- you have acted it out in front of a mirror and timed yourself on it.
- you find out how long it takes the character to do it as the character would do it naturally, and how long it would take if you caricatured them, and figure how you can save space.
- you start working and put the punch in the strong points of action, conserving time on the unimportant points.
- Let the audience see what you want them to see.
- When the scene is finished, if you have placed too much stress on the unimportant things or not enough on the important things, you have not planned the scene properly.
- A general rule: Fill in the numbers on the exposure sheets. Follow up with notes on drawings to show where to speed in and of the poses. (The number of exposures on each drawing and directions about speed).
- Most of the action will be on two's unless you have a very fast action or have lip sync where the dialogue is very rapid.
- Indicate action and any dialogue keys in little thumbnails in the action column to help you remember the phrasing for the scene.
- Phrase expressions to suit the dialogue; use body positions for the phrase, a head action to catch the words.
- On the lips, the main thing is to catch the closed mouth (b, p, and m's); the lip accent is the last thing to be worked on.
- Next Tip: BASIC PRINCIPLES OF ACTION ANALYSIS