Monday, 20 March 2017

Animators, an acting masterclass

Around the time that I started doing animation at University, I occasionally heard people talk about animators being actors. I didn't really understand or fully appreciate what was meant by this until I started working on something involving characters. When working on animations like this there will often be times where you might be unsure how to approach a particular movement, and in the same way that an artist might use an image reference to create a piece, animators will sometimes be in need of such material.

However, specific moving imagery references are not as easily sourced - particularly if you are creating something surreal. As a result you might find that is quite common for animators to act out movements in the studio themselves, to get a real idea of how the character might move in a given situation and how best to approach this through animation.

The state of animation has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, and the lines are getting more blurred as to what constitutes animation these days. A range of 3D tools are now easily accessible, which allow quick positioning and movement of a character for this purpose of referencing. The traditional form of animation is a dying art in the west, and this is largely due to the needs of the industry. If you visit any animation festival, you will see a lot of great student work based in the traditional realm, but this becomes more sparse as you explore the commercial works - with the exception of the odd quirky commission. The interest of animators is still there, and whilst traditional animation exists; there will always be the need to use the studio as a stage to act out movements.

One artist that I follow on instagram, Paolo Rivera, demonstrates a good example of this practice. He is a comic book artist who regularly shares the process of his work. Posing and composition are important elements of comic book work, as the artist has to capture the motion of a single image. Paolo will often show how photos of himself acting out various poses, side-by-side with the finished illustration. It's the same process that an animator would use to explore the movement of the character.

Thanks to Paolo for allowing me to use these images, you can see more of his work on his personal blog.