ACTING for ANIMATORS
My wife, Cally, and I currently reside in Los Angeles, but we have signed a lease on a small apartment in Lisbon, Portugal. If all goes as planned, that is where you will find me starting in 2017. We are making this 6,000 mile relocation for several reasons: First of all, we adore Europe culturally and historically. We feel comfortable and welcomed there, always, and Lisbon is a strategically-located, drop-dead cool place to be. Second, I am convinced that most really worthwhile creative development in the animation industry these days is not coming out of Hollywood. I sense that European animators are at the plate, and I want to be in on the exciting action. Hopefully, me being physically situated in Lisbon will make it financially easier for studios, game companies, festivals and schools throughout Europe to work with me. And, third, I believe philosophically that life is just too short to waste being comfortable. A move to Lisbon is a shift out of my comfort zone, and that suits me just fine. Like you, I thrive when I am challenged. My contact info remains the same, BTW: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover." Mark Twain
A Couple of Talented Artists Who
Could Use Some Support
Sharon Colman has a Kickstarter campaign in progress to raise a few dollars in support of her production of a short animation entitled "Roamin'," a satire about the American Bison. She's asking for US$24,000 and is half way to her goal with 19 days remaining. The way Kickstarter works is on the "all or nothing" basis. If she does not hit her US$24,000 goal, then she's back to zero, even if supporters have pledged US$23,000. She has to get the full US$24,000 -- or the entire effort falls apart. If you have a few extra dollars, please send them her way. I've known Sharon since before her Academy Award nominated short, Badgered, and can assure you she is good stuff, an artist worthy of support. Here's her Kickstarter link.
And while I am at it, let me add one more worthy artist who needs a bit of encouragement: I worked with Richard Gosling when I taught last at Bournemouth University in the UK. Richard is into really serious topics, and he has a short live-action film he's trying to do entitled "Hotel Motel," about an encounter between a drug addict named Eve and a terminally ill guy named Robert. Eve's boyfriend is also in the mix someplace. Richard is only asking for GBP £750 (just over US$900). Personally, I think he should ask for more, but he wants to be extra careful with supporters' money and to account for every penny. We need more serious artists like Richard, so help out if you can. Here's a link to his Crowdfunder campaign.
A reporter for the New York Times watched the recent Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump Presidential debate on TV with the sound off, and then he wrote about what he observed. There is a lot of excellent information for animators here, especially as he is describing the "psychological gesture."
If You Want To Evoke Empathy,
Your Character Must React
We humans empathize all the time, even when we're not aware of it. Empathy is how you know whether you are standing too close to the guy in front of you in the supermarket check-out line. It is how you know that the waitress at the restaurant is having a very bad day. Empathy is, in fact, essential for human survival.
We empathize only with emotion, which is an expression of a person's values. The reason we don't think about empathizing much is because our daily lives are so automated. If you are going to the department store to buy a shirt, you have a pretty good idea what to expect there, even before you arrive. After all, you have been in the same department store - or others like it - many times. In other words, most of the empathizing we do every day is similar to the way we pick up ambient noise. We don't really hear car horns a block away or the distant roar of airplane engines unless we mentally tune in to them. Every time you walk out your front door, you are empathizing, even if you are not aware of it.
This is useful for the animator to keep in mind if she is trying to make the audience empathize with her character. If you want the audience to empathize with a character, then your character is going to have to react to something. In other words, the character must express some personal value. For example, suppose your character is selling toasted pretzels from a cart in the park. He is selling pretzels, taking money, making change and chatting with customers. Then a 6-year-old child starts pulling on the leg of his pants, asking for another pretzel because he dropped his first one on the ground. The pretzel man is annoyed, and he doesn't much like little kids in the first place. All he has to do is glance at the boy with annoyance, and the audience will empathize. You will recognize his emotion and identify with it, even if in his place you would react differently. You might say to yourself, "Awww.... I would just give the boy another pretzel and pat him on the head." The thing is that the particular action - whether you kick the boy or give him another pretzel - is not the point. You "get" the pretzel man's emotion because you can recognize it in yourself.
Emotion is an "automatic value response". While thinking tends to lead to conclusions, emotion tends to lead to action. Acting is doing. The pretzel man is annoyed (little kids make him angry), and he would like to kick the kid away, but he resists doing that. Remember: whatever he does action-wise doesn't really matter as far as empathy is concerned. The important thing in this example is that he feels annoyed and reacts according to his own values. And the audience sees that. He expresses value via emotion and you - the audience - "get it" through empathy.
Until next month...
"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."
(All's Well That Ends Well, I, i)
Copyright © 2012-2017 Ed Hooks