Finished rendering the first acting shot on the reel!
Huge thanks to Alex and Samir, and Genevieve for her fantastic colouscript!
We started with this idea of what we wanted for the look:
To me, appeal is one of the most important principles. Your audience should be attracted to the shot just by glimpsing at a moment within the shot. If I can make someone smile or have an emotional reaction, especially when the video is paused, then I've done my job! This is something I learned early on when I was learning gesture drawing, and it's stuck by me ever since. If you aren't searching for ways to push things and really look for what feels nice, then what's the point?! I remember looking at my drawing instructor's drawings and being fascinated by how great they looked, even when it took him 10 seconds to make one. I thought to myself, if you apply those principles to every frame, imagine the possibilities!
Part of appeal, to me, when animating, is readability. It's a comforting feeling to understand and be able to relate to the character, as an audience member. Ed Hooks taught me that. Feeling empathy is in itself an appealing thing! That's why we go to the movies. To escape through the characters on screen, and if we can't relate to any of them, we won't be hooked. This is why a lot of early student work sometimes feels off, or uncomfortable. The poses aren't pushed, and the emotions are lacking. Sometimes, you have no idea what the character is THINKING, regardless of the audio clip. (I like to animate the later passes with the audio turned off). A good practice is to find a frame in your shot, pause it, and ask yourself--or a friend-- "Hey, what do you think she/he is telling herself right now?" The marriage of strong posing and facial expressions should provide the base for that answer! (This is a start, because other principles that involve motion are also really important to sell appeal and emotions, like Timing!).
The eyes are VERY important. You should be able to hide the mouth and understand the character. Sean gave us wonderful lectures on eye animation at AM. Finding the appeal is a mix of how much "white" you show, and where the iris and pupils are with respect to the lids. There's a lot involved, and it takes practice. I recently discovered a great graphic novel, Lackadaisy. The artist was kind enough to post a lot of pages on her website, including some awesome reference drawings! Look at how appealing the poses and eyes are! http://lackadaisycats.com/exhibit.php?exhibitid=26 It's this kind of stuff that I aim for, and hope to eventually achieve.
For this shot, I was very happy with the playblast (low quality set, no lights or colours) and raw animation. That had enough appeal. But when Genevieve showed me her take on what the colours could be (see the drawing), I HAD to see this shot lit! I strongly believe that the lighting, play in depth, and other cinematic tools can seriously help add appeal. Composition is just as important. When we see a movie poster, or a picture we like, why is that? Humans are drawn to certain symmetries, and asymmetries; and there are ratios we like, and some we don't. The trick is to apply these things to your work. This was the experiment, and I'm super happy with it!
(All animation done by myself, rig courtesy of AnimationMentor, modelling by Samir Mesbah, and lighting by Alex Ronco)