A strong line of action through the character would be one of the first things to work into the pose. Avoid the dreaded straight up and down torso, you know, the torso that looks like there is a metal rod going up the spine. Work in C shapes and S shapes, to give some curve and interest to the spine. This will help you start to build weight into the character. Oppose those hips and shoulders, and get some bend in the knee(s), position one shoulder lower or higher than the other. Chances are, if the weight is not working in the pose it won't work once you start splining.
Look for contrast between your poses. Unless the acting is very subtle, the character won't be in the same shape for the shot. Use reversals in shape, as well as moments of compression (squash) and extension (stretch)to add texture.
Remember, the key poses are your main storytelling poses. Be sure that they support the key beats of the shot. They may signify a change in the character's emotional state or a change in posture or screen position. And they must be clear.
Say you wanted to find the keys poses from a scene starring Tom Hanks. You get out your scissors and slice up the film, as doing this to a blue-ray would be extremely hard. Now you search through all the frames looking for the extreme moments that tell the story of what the scene is about. These will be the frames that are the most clear and readable. And most of the time you will probably be looking for the extreme change in facial expression or body posture.
The face is super important, when we go to the movies we aren't watching Woody's left arm. But let us not forget the importance of body language. When I block a scene I key the character from top to bottom, including the facial expression and phoneme. I want the pose to be a complete picture of my intent for that character at that point and time. Often times however, before I add the face I will focus on the body alone. Is the body communicating my intent effectively? If I watch my blocking with no facial animation of any kind...is it working..is it clear? Once your character has strong, clear body language, the facial animation is the icing on the cake.
Guest Blogger Ray Chase