Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Takes a Demo Reel from Good to Great?

For me, it's the little things.

As animators, our goal is to make the audience believe that the character is alive. For me, a big part of that is a convincing secondary action. Don't get me wrong - clear acting, good body mechanics, strong poses, etc. are all crucial and are all necessary in a good reel. However, once those things are there, it's those subtle human imperfections that take it to the next level.

Something as simple as breathing, blinking at the right moment, fidgeting, darting the eyes, if done right, can be so powerful by adding another layer of human believability to your character. These are just examples, of course, and it's important to remember not to pull the focus from your primary action. I like to think of secondary action as a "spice" that can be used carefully to add some extra interest to your shot or reel.

This is a big reason why I like video reference. If I only plan out in my head every motion that my character will make, I find it often results in an overly "choreographed" look. However, if I act out my shot in front of the camera, I often notice all kinds of little things my body does that I never would have consciously noticed.

In my opinion, the best reels are the ones that make me forget I'm watching cartoon characters and make me truly believe that I'm watching a living being.

Guest Blogger Nelson Brown


Ayush said...

Thanks a lot. These tips will prove to be very helpful :)

JON said...

This is a great website!

Rajesh Gupta said...

Thanks for giving attention towards Secondary Action. It's always misunderstood by most animators as a Secondary Motion. Great post!

Fes said...

Yep, this is a sure sign that you've made it, Nelson. You're blogging on the AM blog. :)

Eric Spiker said...

Great tips, thanks for the advice!

Cornelio Ramirez said...

A special greeting to the creators of animation Animation Tips & Tricks.
My name is Cornelio.
I am a writer of comics.
I wish you much success.

bealuz said...

Hello, my name is Mariasole and I am with the VIEW Conference, "the
premiere international event in Italy on Computer Graphics, Interactive
Techniques, Digital Cinema, 3D Animation, Gaming and VFX." I was hoping
that you would be so kind as to include information about our conference
on your website. We will of course reciprocate this action. The
conference will take place from October 26-29, 2010 with the following

VIEW's Promo Contest-- October 23, 2010

VIEWfest, "a global network of digital movie festivals," is also
organized by the VIEW Conference and will occur from October 29-31, 2010
at Cinema Massimo in Turin, Italy.The deadline for ITALIANMIX was
September 15, 2010.

Thank you,


studi2prod said...

So true Nelson! It's the little things that you can add to a character to give them that extra polish that can make a HUGE difference in believability.
Great post.

dakeru said...

awesome tips! thanks so much for sharing!

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