Thursday, September 30, 2010

Facial Subtlety & Nonverbal Communication

 In animation, in order to help bring our characters to life, (among other things like the 12 Principles of Animation, etc), we study 'facial performance and nonverbal communication.'

 In affect animators are actors, and as actors we learn a lot goes into a good performance; subtleties of how the body moves, how its weight shifts, gestures, the posture of the hands and feet, the expression in the brows and eyes, the movement of the lips and other micro expressions, etc...  Of course the medium of animation is in large part a medium of caricature and exaggeration, but one that also allows us to layer levels of performance details that can push the storytelling (:

 Rather than looking at animation lets examine some live-action reference:  As an example of great 'facial performance' check out this clip from "There Will Be Blood" featuring Daniel Day-Lewis, which showcases the intensity and subtlety that can come from a great facial performance.  Note it is the stuff he does between his lines that really draws you in. How he pushes his lips up, the intensity in his brow, and change of micro expressions... all helping to convey the rising, raging sea of emotion inside his character moment to moment.

  Watch this video now:

 This next clip is from the film "The Assassination of Jesse James", featuring Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, and Sam Rockwell; which also features, in my opinion, one of the most impressive scenes in recent history.  And is a great example of 'nonverbal performance'.  Along with great cinematography and sound, there is just too much good stuff going on here to list, BUT pay close attention to how a huge amount of information is being conveyed and communicated through each characters nonverbal performance, how they are thinking and feeling, struggling with their thoughts and emotions, hesitant but forcing themselves forward through each excruciating moment, by moment to the final conclusion of the scene.

  Watch this video now:

Bonus feature:
  Here is a fun clip showing some of the facial controls our face has...

  Watch this video now:

Click here to see related post: "Learn to Speak Body"

Happy animating (:

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