Before you try to make your shot stand out it's important to remember the type of shot it is, and its purpose. Some shots you don’t want to stand out, and sometimes a shot will stand out regardless of what you do, simply because of its place in the movie or what takes place.
There are a lot of good tips for this particular topic that you can find in any of your animation books. In books like the Illusion of Life you can find lots of tips on how to get the viewer to react, and how to come up with believable acting. But in an effort to provide something new, and being more of a cartoony guy myself, here are some additional things of my own.
Keep in mind that if you employ all of these it will probably be too much.
- THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO IS FORGET ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW TO BE RIGHT OR WRONG ABOUT ANIMATION. Keep in mind that you have to know the rules to break the rules.
- Caricature to the extreme -- i.e. if a person jumps when startled, hold them in the air for an impossible amount of time. If they scream the jaw might drop to the floor.
- Push. Shapes, lines of action, poses, facial expression, timing, breakdowns, contrast. Go further than what we are used to seeing.
- Animate to sound effects in your head - sounds crazy I know. For example, if you are animating a character stretching and in your head you hear the stretching of a rubber band, how does that affect your performance?
- The Simile. Use a simile quite literally to define a performance. For example, if you were to say “when he laughs his stomach shakes like a bowl full of jelly.” Instead of just having the stomach shake up and down, I would animate it as if it was literally jelly.
- Use pop music to help define your texture in timing. I’m talkin’ about those horrible songs that you never want to admit to liking, but you find yourself singing in the shower. They are popular, because they are catchy; they are catchy because of their rhythm. Sometimes to shake things up a bit I will take a rhythm from a song I heard and throw it somewhere into my shot.
- Push your pose.
- Art as inspiration. I will often look at art and say if you had to animate to that style what would that look like. How would an animated Picasso move? If emotionally my character felt broken apart, that's exactly what I might try to do. Sleeping Beauty is a good example of art inspired animation.
- Off Model. This is a tricky thing to do, but if you do it right it can be effective. You can quite literally change the look of the character, like when Ren will sometime take on a more human facial expression. Or it can be more subtle, like when the Tramp mimics a human barking orders in Lady and The Tramp. One quite literally changes the look of the character and the other pushes the expression slightly more than you’re used to seeing.
Most of these I’ve learned by watching any Looney Tunes or Ren & Stimpy cartoon, so you should probably do that first.
Guest Blogger Nick Bruno