Join Andrew Gordon for an in-depth discussion in this video Acting patterns, part of Animation Foundations: Gesture.
- Now I'd like to talk a little bit about acting patterns. When I first started in animation, I would show a scene in dailies, and the director would say "I like you acting, but the pattern is not working for me." I didn't know what this meant for a long time. But what it really means is the musicality of the gesture, or maybe a pattern on my head. So if I shake my head and I say, "Oh no, no, no, no, no, that's just not gonna work," my nose goes back and forth, and then comes up and around and then settles.
So I'd be tracking the nose arc, and that would be a pattern. Another pattern might be track on the wrists or the elbows, as I go from here to there, I'm tracking how the pattern goes. Or if it's really close in, the pattern is tighter. So acting patterns are a really interesting way of looking at your work, and tracking, in essence, the musicality, texture and timing of the gestures in acting you're doing.
Let's take a look with some of these clips of the actors. Now, what's great about this is it's not necessarily the acting that we're looking at so much, it's the fluid arcs. She's kind of, she's really going up on a nice arc. You can see that if you were to track each little dot that arc is really beautiful. So it's the ability to track these arcs, is what we're looking at in animation.
We're understanding how elbows might lead a gesture. Kinda coming up from here to there. We're tracking the arcs of how things arrive and how things settle. It comes up, and then how it settles. This is all patterns. So there's a fluidity. The acting, like I said, might not be exactly what you want, this is a little bit more of that fairy tale kind of acting, but it's the principal that we're looking for, is the musicality.
Animation is a design medium. So we are designing the motion. Much like an actor designs how they gesture, or a dancer designs how they arrive at a pose, this is almost like a hybrid. We have to look for interesting ways for our gestures to arrive, and for it to be beautiful. So really get in there, try to design your gestures, understand what acting patterns are, and try to get that back into your work as well. Okay, let's take a look at what Dylan does with this.
He's a little bit of a different type of character, obviously, so his gestures are gonna be maybe a little weightier. Okay, so the pattern there that I'm looking at is this circular pattern, that would be considered the pattern. Kinda goes in this circular way. So I would really wanna be paying attention to that pattern. He gestures with his screen left arm, it's nice and clear, this one is stuck on his hip.
Now watch this clip and see if you can tell what doesn't work. I think the big thing to be gained from this clip is that his screen right elbow is too stuck to his body. And that would be something that I would wanna change in animation. 'Cause I would want him to do something with that other limb, because it basically just looks stuck on him. Again, this falls into animation, it could fall into live action directing, but it doesn't look correct.
As soon as he takes it off his hip then I feel almost like it's more natural, and it works better for me. With gestures like this, you're always looking for what looks naturalistic, what looks spontaneous. That is what an animator always is doing, is they're reevaluating their work to see if you buy it. Having the hand stuck on the hip is something that just doesn't look real. As soon as he takes it off his hip, then it feels a little bit more realistic.
It feels like it fits. Let's take a look at a scene that I did on the Incredibles where I was really thinking a lot about acting patterns. You can't, it's impossible! I'm far to busy, so ask me now before I can become sane. So it's not really important, so much, what she's saying, but I was really just trying to think about how the arms arrive and what the poses were. So, the first thing that she hits she goes, "You can't," so that's the first gesture that I'm hitting.
"It's impossible," so that the pattern on "it's impossible" is much more of a zig zag pattern on this part of the line, right on the wrists. Then they kind of settle. Then this pattern, again another pattern, it goes up and around, and then folds into her arm. So it goes right in and then over. So that is what my pattern might look like.
So I'm always trying to track how these things are arriving, the patterns. I'm tracking the arcs. I'm trying to understand the musicality of the pose, or the musicality of the motion, and how gestures arrive. That's the polish phase of things, which we will talk about a little bit more in this course.
- What are gestures?
- Cliché and illustrative gestures
- Using reference for gestures
- Gesturing with other body parts
- Polish of gestures
- Facial gestures