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Updated: July 1, 2010 12:09 IST

Creating a living, breathing character

D. Murali
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As an animator, you are basically doing the job of an actor, write John and Kristin Kundert-Gibbs in ‘Action! Acting lessons for CG animators’ ( You are creating a living, breathing character that tells a story, shares an experience, and moves an audience; and your character becomes ‘animated’ with the body, voice, and emotions that you breathe into it,” the authors add.

They are of the firm belief that it is virtually impossible to understand and internalise the work and process of an actor without participating in it. “Even if an individual never intends to set foot on the stage but wants to design, write, or direct, he must fully participate in an acting class to understand the art of acting that is central to the creation of character. As you, the animator, are also creating characters, you too must participate in training as an actor.”

Injection of humanness

Tracing the word animation to Latin ‘animare,’ meaning ‘to give breath to,’ the authors find the need for anthropomorphism, with characters being given an injection of humanness to allow us to relate to them on a gut level. “If we as audience are not engaged with the animated character on screen, then we don’t imbue that character with personality and intention, and thus we are unlikely to remain emotionally involved and therefore become uninterested in the animation as a whole.”

Exaggeration, simplification, abstraction, and stylisation can all be good reasons to create an animation as opposed to filming something live, but what can be insightful is the scope for refinement and freedom in animation that allows one to find the more truly, starkly real.

“Just as a hand-drawn medical illustration of a heart is often more succinct and clear in presenting information about a heart than is a photograph of one sitting in a patient’s chest, the ability to highlight some details while diminishing or eliminating others allows good animators to communicate more directly and possibly viscerally than filming actual actors on a set.”

Recommended addition to the aspiring animators’ shelf.



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