I spent the latter half of last week at the Animex Festival at Teesside university. I attended the Ed Hooks Acting for Animators masterclass as well as attending talks by David Au, Murray Barber and Rob Dressel.
Ed Hooks Masterclass
Having read Acting for Animators a few times over i have to admit this was the reason i found out about Animex and why i subsequently attended. I'll be honest, this was my first animation festival and i cannot speak highly enough of the experience. I will certainly be attending many more.
Ed Hooks is a very engaging, entertaining, interesting and most of all an inspirational individual. He has had the most positive effect on my outlook on animation. After attending the workshop i felt proud to be an animator and confident to press forward with my own goals and to not be afraid of them. One of his biggest messages was to seek to produce our own philosophy toward animation and not what the major studios expect of us. I have to admit this spoke to a part of my general anxiety as an artist. Deep down i have always had my heart on serious animation, where as my tutor has always been on the other end of the spectrum, where he feels it shouldn't have too serious undertones.
The following points are from the notes i had taken:
- Animators create an imitation of a moment;
- Behaving believably in pretend circumstances for theatrical purposes. (To do with the illusion of life - Disney said the mind is the pilot. Gave Mickey Mouse a brain thus emotion);
- Emotion = automatic value response - Thinking = Values, Emotion = Reaction;
- Disney made films for children that charmed adults, we now have a hybrid. This is interesting point, think of Wall-e and Up by Pixar. Each of these has two stories in them that Ed feels is the wrong thing to do. One part is for adults the other for children. Think of Wall-e's love story with Eve (for adults) and The baby like humans overcoming 'Auto' (For children). Think of Carl and Ellies relationship (for adults) and the battle of Carl Vs the Explorer and dogs (for children). For me, Up ended as soon as the house arrived in south america. At this point he achieve his overall objective that is established at the start of the film in the exposition. My supervisor concurred and we both agreed that we felt these thoughts but had not articulated them before Ed's input.
- Acting isn't feeling, acting is doing.
- Emotion is not theatrical on its own. Crying is boring. Crying and reacting (Doing) is theatrical.
- Sympathy (feeling for) = Audience doesn't share experience and if kept here too long will pull out. Empathy (feeling into) = Audience shares experience and share the emotion thus experience. A good example of the 'pull out' can be found in the Lorax. The Once-lers story starts with him as the protagonist. We at first empathise with his want to change his fortunes and escape the environment from his family and his low regard from them. The shift happens once he has succeeded in his objective - to invent an invention that will see him gain financially and potentially gain acceptance from his family. He becomes arrogant and becomes the antagonist once his family move in to cash in on his success with excess and greed. We start to sympathise and this mixed with his actions causes us to drop in and out of favour with him. The process happens again, much bigger as we pull out back to the main story. The audience becomes disengaged with his actions completely before a constant stream of sympathy is created before finally the audience withdraws a final time. This is a clever process which allows the audience to accept him as an aide to the main narrative, leaving enough empathy to accept his support but not enough for him to replace the main protagonist.
- If a character does not change to make it better - 'get it (his shit) together' - The audience will pull out. S/he has to at least try to succeed. Examples Ed gave of films that lack this are Treasure Planet, Over the Hedge and Leaving Las Vegas. This exactly what im talking about above with the Lorax's Once-ler. He fails to get his shit together.
- Action in pursuit of an objective whilst overcoming and obstacle.
- Look at something from the characters point of view.
- Male objective becomes female obstacle. Obstacles can only be one or multiples of being with self, environment or other person.
- Ask the right questions. What is the character doing?
- Higher power center is faster than lower.
- Blink when thought process ends. Blinks happen when someone finishes speaking. Blinks happen when something is understood by the other person.
- Acting has almost nothing to do with words.
- Wiley Cyote had what Mizyaki calls 'ma'
- Sexy eyelids Monroe and Jessica Rabbit represent the moment of orgasm = gives them sex appeal.
- Drama = Mans potential
Comedy = Mans limitation
- Chaplin realised failing to get your foot out of the bucket is funnier than getting it in there in the first place.
- Keaton = sympathy
Chaplin = empathy
- Hero = Exceeding expectation
Villian = Fatal flaw
- Older the audience the more realism needed of the villian
Younger viewers need more obvious indications
- What is important to the tribe is how the character feels the emotions.
- The avoidance of failure is different than the pursuit of success.
All of these ideas can be found one way or another in acting for animators. Despite three editions the book conveys these ideas differently to how Ed puts these ideas across in person. I do hope that he eventually decides to make a dvd. Ed presented a series of questions an animator (or artist in general) should ask themselves. He backs the assertion which i posted about previously where Meyerson commented Pixar were in the decline stage. Ed said something similar but referred it to the industry as a whole, that they should be tapping into the purely adult market. He said that we should answer the following questions.
What do i think people could learn from me?
What do i think we need?
What do i care about?
More to follow in a another post tomorrow. Until then, enjoy...