Animation Material


1. Scenes begin in the middle, not the beginning.

2. A character should be "doing" something 100 percent of the time.

3. A character enters a scene for a reason, and he exits for a reason.

4. Thinking tends to lead to conclusions; emotion tends to lead to action.

5. A gesture need not be an illustration of the spoken word.

6. Audiences empathize with emotion. The key to good animation is in empathy.

7. Comedy is drama heightened, oxygenated.

8. An action pursues a longer term objective. (Smile at the girl because you want to date her.)

9. Short term memory causes eyes to glance upward.

10. Long term memory causes eyes to glance downward, into the soul.

11. The human sense of sight is many times more powerful than the sense of hearing.

12. Humans act to survive. Find the survival mechanism in your character.

13. Play an action until something happens to make you play a different one.

14. A scene is a negotiation.

15. "Actors are athletes of the heart" - Artonin Artaud

16. Anxiety is a high or heady power center; confidence is a low power center.

17. Emotions are automatic value responses.

18. Characters that make steady eye contact for more than a few seconds are either going to fight or make love.

19. The human smile says, "I won't hurt you."

20. Never underestimate the audience.

21. When you animate, you are saying to the audience, "I understand this." When the
audience applauds, laughs or cries, it is saying, "I see what you mean."

22. Actors lead; audiences follow.

23. Background characters can be defined with shadow movement - a jiggling knee, a charcter's mouth moving when he reads the paper, biting fingernails and so on.

24. "The Iron Giant" is an animation classic. Every animator should study it, like visiting Mecca.

25. We see things before we hear them; we hear things before we touch them; we touch
things before we smell them; we smell things before we taste them.

26. A villain is a regular person that has a fatal flaw.

27. A hero is a regular person that has to rise to extreme heights to overcome an extraordinary obstacle.

28. The "beats" in a scene or script are better perceived as "beads" in a necklace. One bead leads to the next to the next and so on. Put the beads together, and you have a story.

29. The purpose of (character) movement is destination.

30. Acting has almost nothing to do with words.

31. Commercials convey almost zero actual information. They are about emotion.

32. Humans and other animals negotiate status continually.

33. To energize a scene, convert the character's "wants" to "needs."

34. Theatrical reality isn't the same thing as regular reality.

35. Acting is reacting.

36. Animators are not mimes. Mime is a specialized art.

37. A key ingredient of empathy is distance.

38. Old people stoop because their bodies ache.

39. A drunk character tries to counteract the effects of the alcohol.

40. To show that a character is hot, have him try to get cool.

41. To show that a character is cold, have him try to get warm.

42. An "adrenaline" moment is one the character will remember when he turns eighty and looks back on his life. The best movies include plenty of adrenaline moments. (Re-read #24)

43. A character analysis is like a character biography.

44. When a character is faced with a choice, be specific. Avoid ambivalence.

45. Allow your characters to be affected by the atmosphere in a location, the "feeling" it projects. (A car wreck has an atmosphere; a church has an atmosphere; a marriage bed
has an atmosphere.)

46. Yelling is a weak acting choice.

47. We speak of memory in general terms, but it is referenced in specific mental images.

48. A character that is listening to another is actually preparing to speak.

49. The camera tends to follow the character's gaze.

50. A scene should have conflict, otherwise known as an obstacle.

51. Trick for suggesting villainy: tilt head forward; eyes peer upward, exposing whites in lower portion of eyeball.

52. Character "personality" is actually character "behavior."