Currently working on a new acting shot for my reel, so while in the planning frame of mind I thought I’d make a post out of some tips I’ve gathered and now use as part of my workflow.
1. Searching for Audio Clips
Animation Mentor itself and also every mentor I had said it, don’t use audio clip web sites. Find unique clips with decent audio quality.
TV shows can be a reliable source, if you can think of a character you like then there will be plethora of lines if the show has run through a few seasons.
Some things to look for in clips:
– A story. A start, middle and end. A goal, conflict & resolution.
– Texture in timing and tone.
– A change in emotional states.
– Something you will enjoy animating.
Make the audio clip work for you. Add sound effects, cut things out, add “white noise” so there isn’t complete silence, etc. Keep it simple, playing with audio is a new can of worms.
Build on what’s already there in the audio. Read into the subtext, change the context, bring something fresh to the table. Don’t just replicate the same scene as the film/tv show.
Having basic drawings with timing and audio gives a much better sense if the idea will work. Even just having one quick storytelling image for each idea will give others a good sense of your idea in order to give feedback.
I like drawing in Photoshop with the timeline. If layering audio I’ll use After Effects to assemble the animatic. I’ve also used the Animation Desk iPad app for pantomime shots.
It doesn’t have to be all high tech though, a cheap option is Flipbook which Jason Ryan recommends and also Pencil which is free. I personally haven’t tried either of those apps though.
4. Shooting reference
First, two breakdown vids that hopefully most have seen before, both from Blue Sky animators.
Epic Comparison Reel – by Jeff Gabor
Memorise the lines.
Amazing how many students don’t do this. Without knowing the lines and timing off heart, you’re not going to get into the performance.
I like to use the FiLMiC Classic app over actually using a dedicated camera. It lets you shoot in 24FPS and also lock off focus and exposure. I like the ease of reviewing shots with app but also the frame rate is a big plus, you can precisely count frames for the timing. Don’t shoot 30FPS, if you convert it later 6 frames of every second will have to be dropped, it’ll be hard to really analyse spacing.
Set the camera up in the same position as the camera in your scene and occasionally check what you’ve been shooting.
Patrick in the video above recommends getting into character, including similar clothing. Jeff in the 2nd does a mix, wearing the hoodie for Mary Katherine’s shots for example, but he also wears a plaid shirt in other shots. Plaid, striped, dotted clothes make it easier to study the body mechanics in your acting.
Sometimes when acting you know you’ve done something spontaneous you like, or just felt it was a better performance than others. I like to clap at the end of the take, it just makes it easier to scrub through and find those specific takes later.
5. Mod your characters
Create new characters. Show their character traits in their design and have something that looks a bit different to other shots on other people’s reels. Some of how to do this was covered in the Bishop post and Texturing Tribes Rigs.
6. Show people
Pretty simple, show others and get opinions before getting too deep into an idea. Facebook groups are great, though I like to pick people whose work I like and mail them directly. Everybody is pretty open to helping out.