3d forums home Resources for 3d artists

Acting In Animation

Posted: February 25, 2010
"An animator is an actor with a pencil", goes the oldest and truest animation cliché. Not "a draftsman that acts", but first and foremost - an actor. If you're trying to tell a story through a character, inevitably you're an actor. The only question is whether you are a good actor or a bad one.
My feeling is that in the past few years, while there's been great progress technology-wise, the art of acting in animation has been abandoned. Compared with the acting quality of characters such as Shere-Khan (The Jungle Book), Captain Hook (Peter Pan) and others, today's characters are pale, dull, and lack personality. In better cases, an exceptionally interesting voice-talent saves the day (Robin Williams as the genie in Aladdin); but usually the script alone is responsible for providing the characters with some sort of personality.

In the various internet forums one can find threads concerning software, design, textures - some even talk about movement - but it's rare to read something about acting. I haven't yet seen a comment saying something like "the animation is good, but the character has no personality". It seems that the level of expectations is so low, that it's enough for an animator not to make technical errors. Would you consider praising a writer simply because he made no spelling mistakes?

In the following article I have put on paper my thoughts considering acting in animation, which apply to any form of character animation - including 3D. The article is not meant to provide a "good acting in animation" formula - simply because such a formula does not exist. Every animator has his personal attitude, every film has needs of its own, and undoubtedly there are other ways of getting good acting. The goal is to propose a "toolbox" for the actor/animator, and maybe raise - even a little - the animators' awareness of acting in animation.
Posted: September 02, 2010
Agree with this.. Acting is very important for an animator..
Posted: September 05, 2010
That's the reason animation is magic.

The heart of it is about is taking a bunch of ink/pixels/polygons and making them into a character, to the point where the medium is less visible than the character.

The trouble is that any animation is such a time consuming and painstaking process that it's easy to to sidetracked into thinking that the process is animation. To get caught up in the details of set building and lighting, rendering and keyframing.

It's all about acting, there is nothing else.
Posted: November 07, 2010
I'm currently working on my 4th years honours project within computer arts. I'm looking into character emotion, and how to get the best emotional response from characters within narrative; I'm reading through a good book called Stop Staring... and looks like its going to be a huge help for my project. I will keep you posted on how I progress.. but I feel that acting for animaters is the very key to releasing emotion... which also helps to keep characters look realistic within a virtual environemnt. All the disney character many of us have grown with over the years all had characteristics that made them unique and I think you could only imagine the acting reference they went through, to get to the final character animation. Do you think that the priciples of 2D animation are lacking within 3D animation? and why do you think this is? Anu feedback would be great, as I could use it within my project research.
Posted: November 07, 2010
acting is everything in animation. To be an animator, you also have to be an actor. Something I try to work on everytime I start a new project.
Posted: February 04, 2011
animation is the heart of this business, and acting its lifeblood
Posted: February 05, 2011
I agree. Technical quality isn't everytning. Good acting brings life to animation, releases emotions. Even in simple ones. Animation without life is like another cute photo on postcard. Cute and nothing more.

I think that it's easy to not notice acting in highly detailed and technically advanced animation for those who know some technicals of it. You watch and you think "how the did it" or "they had to use this and this which was extremely hard" first instead of just looking at story. I feel myself doing this way many times but I try to not focus on it only Smile
Posted: March 04, 2011
You make some very good points here. I aspire to make my characters more interesting and try to see past the technicalities.
Posted: March 04, 2011
How do you think animators portray empathetic performance within characters for animation and games?

Any feedback would be great, and would help with m dissertation research as part of honours project. You will of course get a reference within it.

I have an honours project blog with more project info, which you can google... but i can't post this here at the moment because of my member status apparently... :/

Thanks Gemma Pullinger