Rebecca O'Connor Honours Blog

Character Performance

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I built the cameras to match up with the shots in the animatic. The shots where the reflection takes center will need a bit of tweaking and possibly composting but for right now it’s been really helpful to see how the cameras work in the space. There may also be some changes made along the way if they don’t work like I want them too. So far though I think most of them look like they won’t cause any problems.

Filed under animatic cameras

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This will be the final version of the animatic, I don’t have time to keep working on it and I am really happy with it as it is. I made a few changes regarding the texts the Lady receives as Lynn suggested that using text to tell the story was not the best approach and that the initial shot was a little too intense just having the character staring straight at the screen. The texts are still shown as I felt it was important that the audience know what the Lady is seeing but they are now projected on the wall instead. This way they can still see them but they are not the focus is the shot and the audience can still see the character and her reactions. The pace of the shot works much better this way as it builds towards the mirror smash. In the previous version the texts slowed it down considerably. 

The text is a little messy in the animatic but in the final version the will appear as projections on the wall behind the lady and overlap chaotically, hopefully reflecting her mind at that moment.

Filed under animatic the lady of shalott 8th pass final version

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This is the version after my conversation with Brian. I re-did the entire first half of the animatic as I realised that there was a disconnect between the two halves. The first half was very literal, she gets a message that makes her angry, and the second half was more representative and metaphorical. The walls came crashing down as her life fell apart. In this version I tried to remove the literal feeling of it and focus on what the character was feeling not doing. I also changed her emotions again and focused on loneliness, isolation and self-reflection.

I tried to develop negotiation between the character and her own reflection, the mirror was to be her only source of communication and so I wanted there to be a relationship there, a dialogue without the words. Throughout the animatic she always returns to the mirror and when it smashes her reaction is much more understandable within this context. It is her only way to escape to isolation she feels and she is desperate not to lose it. I felt that the build up with the messages works much better than having her trip. The messages serve several purposes and so I think they work much better from a story perspective. I also tried to develop a relationship between the character and her phone, she sees it as her window to the outside world, it’s her hope that someone will contact her and she won’t be alone. When messages do come through however, it backfires on her and sends her reflections of her own doubts and fears. Her panic at that moment is what causes her to accidentally break the mirror and for her it’s the end of what life she did have. 

I much prefer this version of the film, the boards themselves are not as well drawn as the previous versions but the film is much better overall and the story makes much more sense.

Filed under Animatic the lady of shalott 7th Pass

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By this point I was starting to struggle with the motivations behind The Lady getting so angry so fast. I have changed so much that it didn’t seem to make much sense anymore. To try and fix that I changed the attitude that The Lady starts the scene with and made her much angrier. I had her trip to build up her frustration before the message she receives as the tipping point that sparks her outburst. The end remains the same as I thought that was still working well but when I had made the changes to the start I still wasn’t happy with it. I asked Brian Robinson for his advice and he suggested I was being too on the nose with the text and that a more ambiguous method might work better. He also suggested I go back to the poem and look for the themes present in it, make it less literal and focus more on the message behind the actions.

Filed under animatic The Lady of Shalott 6th Pass

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I’ve started reading up on acting theory again and I found a particularly good chapter in The Art of Film Acting where Comey describes the differences between film acting and stage acting. He describes the differences in the preparation of a role as well as the performances themselves. 
‘Actors need to appear spontaneous and how genuine feelings for the camera. They need to play off of each others performance and react to their fellow actors.’ p11,12
The need to create a spontaneous and genuine performance is just as strong in animation as it is in acting but a large disadvantage for animators is that they cannot be spontaneous, the animation process is too slow. Additionally an animator will not have another person to play their scene off of, they may have several characters in a scene and they are responsible for the actions of all of them, there is no-one but themselves to play off of. The question for my project them becomes, ‘How can an animator make her scene seem spontaneous?’ ‘What methods can be defined to help in this process?’
In film acting the actors do not consider their performance until they have rehearsed the movement in the scene with the director. More seasoned actors sometimes do not even read the script more than a few times so that the can keep their performance genuine rather than cold and rehearsed. This is a concept that is already a solid part of the animation pipeline. All movement and timing should be well planned before the acting is considered, this is usually done in the storyboards and animatic, it is one of the first things to be produced in an animation production.
‘In a film scene, the camera and the microphone are as close as the lover you are whispering to, so you don’t need to project your voice and actions. To avoid looking amateurish, talk naturally and don’t project. p.13
Adjust the performance to suit the camera. Always take the camera in to account, the camera is your audience and everything they need to see to understand the performance should be shown in the camera. The way you use the camera will dictate how the audience experiences the performance and particularly for animation, it will change the movement of the character and how much you have to animate.
At one point Comey warns against being afraid and nervous during a performance, particularly in film because the camera will see everything you are feeling. The audience will see that you are afraid and find the performance unconvincing. While this is not a problem for an animator (your character will not act afraid unless to make them do so) it presents a slightly different problem, where actors will have to suppress certain aspects of their personality to play different roles, the animator will find it difficult to build a role as there is no base personality to base the performance on. The complete freedom in building a character can cause it’s own problems. 
Subtext can be a large part of filling that base personality, the character should always be feeling something, even if it is hidden behind other emotions or actions. Emotion leads to action. 
Between stage acting and film acting, animation seems to have more in common with stage acting when it comes to preparing the character. Stage actors have time to build their characters and immerse themselves in that role. They spend weeks rehearsing before opening night and then they play that same performance night after night. Animators do not rehearse but there is that same period of time getting to know their character. Animated characters have to be built from scratch, there are no existing personalities to build from. It is up to the animators to know that character inside and out and ensure that the consistency and strength of their performance. They must build their character and act for them. 

I’ve started reading up on acting theory again and I found a particularly good chapter in The Art of Film Acting where Comey describes the differences between film acting and stage acting. He describes the differences in the preparation of a role as well as the performances themselves. 

Actors need to appear spontaneous and how genuine feelings for the camera. They need to play off of each others performance and react to their fellow actors.’ p11,12

The need to create a spontaneous and genuine performance is just as strong in animation as it is in acting but a large disadvantage for animators is that they cannot be spontaneous, the animation process is too slow. Additionally an animator will not have another person to play their scene off of, they may have several characters in a scene and they are responsible for the actions of all of them, there is no-one but themselves to play off of. The question for my project them becomes, ‘How can an animator make her scene seem spontaneous?’ ‘What methods can be defined to help in this process?’

In film acting the actors do not consider their performance until they have rehearsed the movement in the scene with the director. More seasoned actors sometimes do not even read the script more than a few times so that the can keep their performance genuine rather than cold and rehearsed. This is a concept that is already a solid part of the animation pipeline. All movement and timing should be well planned before the acting is considered, this is usually done in the storyboards and animatic, it is one of the first things to be produced in an animation production.

In a film scene, the camera and the microphone are as close as the lover you are whispering to, so you don’t need to project your voice and actions. To avoid looking amateurish, talk naturally and don’t project. p.13

Adjust the performance to suit the camera. Always take the camera in to account, the camera is your audience and everything they need to see to understand the performance should be shown in the camera. The way you use the camera will dictate how the audience experiences the performance and particularly for animation, it will change the movement of the character and how much you have to animate.

At one point Comey warns against being afraid and nervous during a performance, particularly in film because the camera will see everything you are feeling. The audience will see that you are afraid and find the performance unconvincing. While this is not a problem for an animator (your character will not act afraid unless to make them do so) it presents a slightly different problem, where actors will have to suppress certain aspects of their personality to play different roles, the animator will find it difficult to build a role as there is no base personality to base the performance on. The complete freedom in building a character can cause it’s own problems. 

Subtext can be a large part of filling that base personality, the character should always be feeling something, even if it is hidden behind other emotions or actions. Emotion leads to action. 

Between stage acting and film acting, animation seems to have more in common with stage acting when it comes to preparing the character. Stage actors have time to build their characters and immerse themselves in that role. They spend weeks rehearsing before opening night and then they play that same performance night after night. Animators do not rehearse but there is that same period of time getting to know their character. Animated characters have to be built from scratch, there are no existing personalities to build from. It is up to the animators to know that character inside and out and ensure that the consistency and strength of their performance. They must build their character and act for them. 

Filed under The Art of Film Acting Jeremiah Comey notes quote

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I am going to use Bonnie for the final animation and this is my first attempt at facial animation using her. It’s just a first pass but most of the movement and lip sync are blocked in and I want to continue with it to work on my timing and using the graph editor. I am really pleased with it so far though, hopefully I can get a smooth process going fairly quickly. 

The audio is an old clip from the 11 second club and I’m glad I chose a light hearted one to start with because I might be listening to it for a while.

Filed under 3D animation Bonnie Rig 11 second club skill gap

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For this version of the storyboards the story didn’t change but the way it was shot did. The previous shot when the walls are cracking focused on the environment to show what was happening but the focus of my project and this animation is the character and the character performance, not the environment. With this in mind I changed the shot to focus on The Ladys reaction to the cracking and used that to tell the audience what is happening. This way I am not relying on the environment and I have more time to show the character performance. 

I also tidied up some of the other shots so the intention was clearer for the audience.

Filed under animatic The Lady of Shalott 5th Pass

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More life drawing from my sketchbook. It’s definitely helping with my animation and my draftsmanship. I’ve been a bit behind with it lately so I’ll be making it more of a priority to keep it up. 

Filed under life drawing Observational Drawing

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This is the result of following this tutorial - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJJI7vxAohA&feature=youtu.be - it was incredibly helpful, especially when it came to using the graph editor. It was a tool in maya that I have never really used before and I am much more comfortable with it.

The run cylce is probably the best piece of 3D animation I have done so far. The character looks grounded and I am really pleased with the foot planting and the hip movement. The head movement could be improved on but I think the rough movement works well as follow-through. I did have some problems with the arms, I had them too far out at first and it looked awkward, but I am happy with how they turned out.

As a result I am much happier in 3D than I was and the next test I plan on doing will be with facial animation set to a short recording.

Filed under 3D animation Bonnie Rig skill gap

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The story changed quite a lot in this pass of the animatic. In the previous versions I had, the ending was supposed to be somewhat positive. She was tired of her career and the life she was living and the smashed mirror provided an escape for her, she got what she wanted.

In this version however, I went back to the poem. It doesn’t have a happy ending, The Lady dies and she loses to the curse. This was something I tried to reflect in this version. The Lady does not get the role she wanted, the passage is gone and when the mirror cracks it is a cause for fear for The Lady. The cracks continue to spread out to the walls of the room towards The Lady who is at this point powerless to stop it. When the walls crumble away nothing is left but the mirrors frame and The Lady herself. This was meant to symbolise The Ladys world as her dissapointment and frustration lead to her losing everything. It was to tie back to the moment the Lady of Shalott when her frustrations lead to her  finally turning to the window and losing everything as a result. When The Lady reaches for the mirror I wanted it to be a lasting moment of denial, it is not until she tries to touch the mirror that the reality hits her and she realises she has lost everything.

Filed under Animatic the lady of shalott 4th Pass