What is on my animation checklist?
I have a series of things that I need to consider at each point during the shot. I don't always take all of these steps on every shot, but this will work as a nice master list to pull from depending on what is expected. At the launch, my checklist is a series of questions. Most of the time, these questions are answered as we walk through the sequence with the directors. If these questions aren't addressed, I ask about them when my shots are reviewed.
Checklist of Questions at the Launch:
1) What is the context? What happened directly before and what is going to happen directly after the shot?
2) What are the main story points that need to come through in the shot?
3) Is there a particular emotion that we should be feeling as audience members watching this shot?
4) How much room is there to work the idea? Some shots need to stick pretty close to the boards, while others leave a lot of space for the animator to work with. It's our responsibility to know what type of situation we are dealing with.
If I know the answer to all of these questions, than I am ready to start planning my shot.
Checklist for Planning my Shot:
I use different methods for planning out an acting shot versus a physical shot. For a physical shot, I will try to find some good reference of the movement and then jump right into thumbnailing. For acting shots, I like to spend some time analyzing the line.
My checklist is as follows:
1) Go for my gut instinct. I like to get my initial instinct out on paper and possibly on the camera. I may come back to this, but I may not. Sometimes it helps to get my idea out there so that I can clear it out of the way to make room for better ideas.
2) Analyze the dialog. There are a few things that I look for in the dialog when I am planning my acting:
Dynamics: Find the places where the line has inflections. These are great places to hang acting ideas.
抑揚頓挫 - 找出對話語調的轉折點，這些地方就是你讓表演突出的最佳位置。
Phrasing: I try to assign specific verbs to go along with parts of the line. If I can assign a verb to describe what the character is doing or thinking, it is easier for me to create a pose that communicates properly.
Meaning/Subtext: Many times, characters say something that implies something more meaningful. Digging out the true meaning of the line can lead to some really fresh acting choices.
Character Reference: I always try to think about the character. How would they react to this situation? If this character has been animated already, how did other animators handle this type of acting?
Film reference: See if this type of situation has been handled in other films. Sometimes this will help to inspire acting ideas in a different direction.
影片研究 - 找看看有沒有同樣的情況在其他影片出現過。有時候這可以激發你想出不同方向的表演點子。
4) Video Reference. Now that I have analyzed the scene some more, I shoot some reference. I leave the camera running until I feel comfortable. I switch it up between acting and doing. When I am "acting" I am trying to feel the line out and see what comes naturally. When I am "doing" I have a specific idea in mind that I try to imitate with my body.
Get other animators involved in the reference. I find that if can get direct feedback as I am acting, it can help the ideas develop faster. I take turns acting and directing.
Analyze the reference, find the truths. Sometimes it helps to cut together a super take with what you feel are the best choices for each part of the shot. Make your choices. At this point I usually pick one or two ideas that I like best for each beat and start to prep those ideas for blocking.
5) Apply the Principles. I look for places to add physicality, reversals, lead and follow. I make sure to exaggerate the ideas in my reference and push the things that the reference is hinting at.
6) Thumbnail.Depending on the shot, I thumbnail instead of shooting reference.On certain shots, I thumbnail after doing the reference to make sure that I am pushing the poses and the physicality.
At this point, I have a pretty good idea of what I am going to work into the shot. It's time to start blocking.For most shots, I work in stepped mode for my blocking. This enables me to do detailed poses that communicate clearly without having to worry about the in-betweens.
1) Block in my keys.
These will be the main storytelling poses in my shot. I don't have any limit to how many keys I set on my first pass of blocking, but they tend to be pretty sparse. Sometimes I will leave as many as 10-12 frames between poses. I will block in a full pose including rough ideas for the hands and face.
2) Test it and time it.
I playback my pass of keys and move them around on the timeline until the beats feel like they are in the right places.
3) Break it down.
I add my breakdowns as a part of my blocking pass. I tend to break a shot down until I have a key on about every 3-4 frames. When I add my breakdowns, I think about which key that breakdown should favor. At times I even favor different body parts to different keys. I am also thinking about my paths of action.
Once I have a pass of blocking, I will ask some questions again:
1) Is it clear? Will someone get the idea of what I am going for without any explanation?
2) Did I push the posing and timing enough?
3) Do I like the idea? I try to be the first judge of my work before I get the supervisor and directors involved. Chances are, if I don't feel good about it, then they won't either.