Sunday, 28 October 2012

Group Tutorial: Things I don't like

On Thursday we had to present things we either liked or disliked. I came prepared with two things i didn't like, they were quite specific compared to others, so here they are with a rationale...

In the Corpse Bride intro, as the hand writes there is absolutely no weight or pressure being applied to any of the movements. No pressure or muscle movement from within the hand itself makes it look dead, and causes one to question what is the driving force? The elbow appears to be the top of the chain. The wrist only articulates any movement when easing in and out to the page. On has to assume that as a stop motion that they did not 'animate' the whole of the physiology. 

Animating the whole physiology, even when not in shot, is important. All movements force is driven primarily from the trunk and without consideration can cause performances to look off. This can be seen below in my Viva Voca posted below, and was also established in a workshop i attended last year about Laban movement theory held by Elisza Ribeiro.
However, having never worked with stop-motion i'm not fully aware of the technical capabilities. Although, i am aware to produce a model with such flexible hand movement could have adverse affects regarding control. This would surely make it far-less cost effective, and is the most probable cause. This brings me to the aesthetic of the work. Compare it to Nightmare Before Christmas, it appears CG, whereas NBC is clearly stop-motion. However innovative NBC was, we can feel the textures, this sets context. The Corpse Bride however, at the benefit of technological capability, has an ambiguous context. This ambiguousness causes the conflict in shots such as the writing hand in my opinion (because in CG it is entirely possible to general such movement). 

Further on in the scene, the towns folk all follow the beat of the music, which is accompanied by a tick. This breaks the rules for creating performance but is acceptable as its function is to set the context - a boring, monotonous and repetitive life that the protagonist (not bound by such conditions) needs to escape. We did highlight however the larger characters lacked weight in their walks. 

This was not however the worst example i could find. Roll on DFS, and their Arthur Christmas endorsed ad.

There are many fundamentals wrong with this characters performance it's difficult to decide where to start. Firstly, in gestural terms, his trunk and legs are not synchronised with the hands and head. In animated performance, it is never advisable to separate a bodies movement into two actions that do not influence each other. A coherent performance will be difficult to produce for 8 seconds of animation, due to lack of thinking time, but it clearly does not work having both separate parts running constantly, with no structural narrative purpose. The second aspect that doesn't work is the expressions. They neither have storytelling purpose nor any emotional value. The character is dead behind the eyes. A reason for this might be a poor designed character that was suitable for the limited emotional value they provided for the original feature film. (One thinks to Studio AKAs lead in Lost and Found, but they had more time for better timing and spacing, and relied on gesture over expression, and aided by an narrater. Remember the design principle, Form follows Function?)

I can hear you say well the dialogue doesn't offer much so how do we convey an engaging performance with a limited character?

This can be difficult, but the answer is simple: planning.

They had not established 2 things: Storytelling poses and the major/minor emphasis points. What it appears they did do was produce a walk cycle that would composite with the length of the distance to the door in 8 seconds and bake gestures on top. I have no conclusive evidence of this, but based on experience this is my prediction. [I am in the process of finding out who produced the ad to find this information out, i have contacted VTR North and Ink Films who worked together to produce the 2011 ads]

This draws me back to my comments regarding Corspe Bride above. All movement starts from the trunk. We have two performances in the DFS advert between the physiology causing a conflict. The problem essentially starts where they have used the walk cycle as the storytelling pose - this is okay - but it doesn't deviate. It's mechanical. The upper body doesn't move on the major emphasis points. This is a must to work with the excited tone in the voice, and ad purpose to the dialogue.

Major emphasis points = whole body
Minor emphasis points = arms + head

The storytelling poses tend to be most appropriate for Major emphasis points - a significant moment. The minor emphasis points are ideal for the transitional period.

This brings us back to the face. It makes it difficult to comment again because i have not seen the rig set up. In the discussion we agreed that the poor emotional expressions could be down to a poor rig. To really find out the answer we would need to find out if they used a character that was produced for the film. In the clip below, watch from about 1.15 in, the performance provided here shows what can be achieved if a rig from the film was used. This also raises the question of if it is from the film, what was its role in the film? was it a primary/secondary or background character? 

Once i have a response from my initial enquiry i shall be asking these questions (if applicable). The above clip is important because it expresses storytelling significance, and uses major and minor emphasis points as well as using expression. The character appears to be thinking, something that is clearly missing from the DFS advertisement. 

Check out the link below for more examples of how the character (if from the film and fully rigged) can move in terms of physiology. This is surely evidence enough to place blame at a poorly planned scene. 

When i have a response i shall update on another post.

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