Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Gestures - Part 1

Gestures in animation can be so many things. I recently gave a talk on gestures for Animation Mentor. The talk really helped me delve into what a gesture is and why people do them. Gestures can be signals that tell a person how you are feeling. Some are primary and others are secondary. A primary gesture might be the one on the photos I grabbed from various sources. The fist in the air says "I have won" or celebrates something. The meaning of your gestures really depend on the situation and the character. As seen in the photo of the golfer, his way of celebrating is much more low key, as it should be on the golf course.
A good example of a secondary gesture might be a person putting his hand up to his mouth to cover a cough. It's an almost involuntary thing and it also tells the person seeing this that he is sick.

In animation, we tend to think of gestures as something that accompany dialogue. Its very easy to make boring choices when you are animating. Myself included, sometimes I just don't think things through. You really do need to explore all the possibilities to make your scene fresh. Here are a few tips.

1) Avoid twinning
2) Try to stay away from over used gestures such as the W pose or the point.
3) Think about your character and what types of gestures they might use.
4) Try to come up with a gesture that is interesting
5) Don't gesture. If it doesn't need to be there, then don't use one
6) Do your homework... Research, Thumbnail, people watch.

I have to say, I have been guilty of having a character gesture too much like myself (in the case of Monsters with Mike Wazowski). For that character, it worked, but I am always struggling to come up with interesting ideas and poses. Heck, actors can do it, why cant we?

I heard a great exercise that actors were doing in a class I was sitting in on. Go out and people watch for a few hours and take 3 gestures from different people and use them in a scene. It worked out great. One of the actors was stroking her hair, waving and putting her hand to her mouth. I thought it was a great way to study gestures.

Try it out and let me know how it works... If only I could get my students to do the assignment....

Some great reading for this type of thing is:

Happy Holidays,



Blogger Stephen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:15 AM

Blogger Amelia Lorenz said...

There's so much to think of when the way, what is twinning?


1:30 PM

Blogger Josh Bowman said...

Twinning is using the exact same timing and/or guesture on both arms. If you offset the timing and the guesture a little for each it looks more natural.

3:00 PM

Blogger Amelia Lorenz said...

Oh, thanks Josh!


3:30 PM

Blogger david a said...

At my school here in Florida (Tampa) we actually have an original print of Manwatching in our library! It is one of the most fantastic books EVER on the theories practices and ideas behind gestures. Sadly exams came and I wasn't able to finish it but it's on my pickup list when start backup this January.

Andrew! Awesome talk at AMO btw. I took tons of notes (about 6 pages front and back?) Just wanted to say thanks man and good job ;D I definately enjoyed it. Hopefully you'll come back and do some more AMO teaching? Either way, great stuff, you just made animation so much more inspiring man :)

8:43 PM

Blogger Bert said...

I sometimes try not to avoid "W" pose or Twinning, if it's not exactly same. or if character is not facing straight to the camera, then even tho he makes W pose, it's not like too symmetrical. hmm. there is a moment that people do that anyway. or it could tell the character. and actually, I watched some TV show from Europe, the guy in that show did like all Twinning and "W" poses. and seemed he did that intentionally. it was so interesting. hmm.. I don't know what I'm saying. am I wrong? Hmm.. and.. Mike. W is one of my favorite characters in pixar movies. it worked greater than great. yay. Merry Christmas.

12:56 PM

Anonymous Theodora said...

Very useful material, thank you for the article.

6:02 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home