Friday, December 21, 2007

Acting tool 2) - Head Motion To Punctuate Dialogue

Here's some fun animation from Chuck Jones' "You Were Never Duckier" 1948, Chuck's funniest year.

There are accents in speech that you can hear. People (and ducks) punctuate those verbal accents with visual cues. That's what actors try to mimic.















You can also use gestures to help punctuate the dialogue. This bit has much stronger emphasis in dialogue, so uses more visual accents and signals and with great variety. It doesn't seem typical of Jones, because it's very exaggerated. It looks a lot like some animation in his hilarious "Pest In The House" which appears very influenced by Clampett. Jones' cartoons calmed down quickly after these cartoons.


Basic tools of visual acting:

1) Expressions
2) Head Motions (this post)
3) Arm and hand gestures
4) Body poses

Most animators shy away from strong expressions and instead rely on the other 3 tools. You can use any and all of them in different proportions to create variety and emphasis.

A good voice track should inspire the animator to use which visual accompaniments most fit the track. The best animators customize their acting to fit the track. Most use formula.


Rodrigo said...

Wow. These Daffy scenes are cool. This is actually something I've been thinking about lately as a result of watching some old Disney films.

There are acting scenes in the Jungle Book, 101 Dalmations, and Sword in the Stone where the character rotates his head back & forth to acentuate the dialog. It looks nice, but unfortunately, it's so prevalent that it becomes gimicky after a while.

This Daffy stuff is cool because it seems more specific. It doesn't feel like the animator is showing off all angles of the character's face he can construct well.

Weirdo said...

Excellent posts. I love that cartoon. That's great cartoon acting. I can't wait to get the current volume of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection. Have you heard that Woody Woodpecker Vol. 2 is coming out in April? Anyway, have a Merry Christmas John and a Happy New Year.

stegokitty said...

Hi John,
I'm so glad I stumbled upon this blog today. I remember when I was a kid (I was born in 1963) really liking the older cartoons and thinking the newer ones weren't really that funny. They didn't look funny, they didn't move funny, they didn't whack each other around enough. I seriously wanted to know who killed Bugs Bunny. I knew that the character who was on screen was being posited as being Bugs Bunny, but he was nothing like (and neither was Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, et al) he used to be in those other, older cartoons. Through the years I've asked people if they'd noticed that BB and his pals were stiffer, and not as funny in the latter cartoons. Most folks didn't know what I was talking about. Of course, Ren & Stimpy were the saviours of funny animated cartoons (IMHO). Nowadays there are still some crazy movement/high velocity/slapstick cartoons, but most of the new stuff has gone on to the computer animation which is rarely funny.

On a quick sidenote, I found your blog by looking for some particular images online. The link that lead me to you originated in my surfing from a project intent on archiving old animated films. And strangly enough, I am today working on an audio/video collage, and I'm using some material from R&S, including Powdered Toast Man. Mind you this isn't for public distribution, nor is it for sale. This is simply an artform that's been developing out of the sync community (which you may or may not have heard of, but which I'd be happy to tell you more about or to point you in the direction to see for yourself) and I'm trying to move it in a new direction. "We" typically make these "syncs" and trade them amongst each other. From what I've seen, most syncers, if they have the proper technology, will credit their sources at the end, like credits at the end of a movie, so that those experiencing the sync can go out and purchase the materials in the sync (or in my case, the a/v collage) that they've found interesting. If you'd like to amuse yourself, I'd be happy to send you Chapter 1 of the newest project that I'm working on, which I call "Paper Boy". And if you do take me up on the offer, I do hope you won't find it offensive, as again I stress, this is not something done for profit. And what with all the copyright infringement controversey, intellectual rights, etc., what we've found is that in the trading of these a/v projects, it opens the gateway for many of us to explore strange new worlds of music and movies that we might not have otherwise heard of or even bothered with. The best example would be when the sales of Pink Floyd's THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, and the MGM classic THE WIZARD OF OZ skyrocketed shortly after the public announcement by the WZLX (Boston) radio DJ concerning the synchronicity that occurs with the combination of these two media. It's our hope that the sales of our favourite films and CD's go up when folks happen upon one of our projects. We hope this encourages new talk on the whole subject between the artists and the fans of the artists who make these projects. It' really a win/win situation.

I've already shown Chapter 1 of "Paper Boy" to my wife, to several coworkers, and to a friend whom I'm confident enough would tell me if he didn't like it, and everyone seems to find it entertaining.

Let me know if you're interested in seeing Chapter 1.

Oh, and the reason I call it "Paper Boy" is because the two foundational films I'm using are PAPER MOON, and CABIN BOY. We have a tendency in they syncommunity to try to come up with a clever name for the sync or a/v collage if at all possible.

PS, for some reason there are several images on your blog for 12-19-07 that are not showing up. You may want to check the links.

Larry Levine said...

Another beautiful sampling of animation from Chuck Jones' immortal Unit A.

DTN said...

Good lesson today, John . Thanks.

Any idea who animated this scene ?

(Harris, Vaughn, Washam , Monroe ... ? )

Lynsey said...

Really cool. It's so much more fun to watch than just a stationary head. I could watch them over and over!

Oh, and I'm looking forward to getting some more lessons done over the Christmas break - can't wait for the next one! And speaking of which, are you still going to do a public critique of the Jinks lesson? I'm eager to hear what you thought of it.

Malomeat said...

Hey John K., what do you think of this?

David Germain said...

I definitely do this at work all the time. I let the accents in the voice track determine what gestures the characters will make. Unfortunately, sometimes the voice actor isn't available at the time for one reason or another and so the director will use his monotone voice instead. It makes the job much more difficult but we do what we can.

Besides formula, some greener animators just rely on a series of head butts when moving their characters whether they're talking or not. That's what some of the animators at the studio I work at were doing. We all got a big lecture on that though.

Chris_Garrison said...

I remember some really great head-all-over-the-place acting from Daffy in the one where he's a bell hop. Was that Clampett or Jones?

PCUnfunny said...

I am guessing this is Ken Harris animation. Anyway, this Daffy animation was brillant. Harris used the voice track to it's full potential. Harris stays on the same level of exgerration for Daffy's head until he says "For a Measley five Buck". Harris then turns it up a bit so Daffy can really drive that fact about the money home.

jesus chambrot said...

hey john, its cool that you're using quicktime cause its great that I can go frame by frame through the Daffy animation and gauge the spacing on daffy. Its hard for me to do on a large tv screen for some reason.
Going through the Daffy scene It reminds me of my old Fisher-Price Projector where I was able to click frame by frame through the Brave Little Tailor and see each breathing drawing.

pappy d said...

It looks like Ken Harris (a true master of time & space). He had the coolest smear breakdowns (IMO).

patchwork said...

Chris Garrison,

"A pest in the house" Chuck Jones

Anonymous said...

"You Were Never Duckier" and "A Pest in the House" (especially this one) are two Chuck Jones cartoons I really love. I'm glad you're posting your opinions about both of them.

I forgot how strong the poses were in that scene. They really add to the acting as well as the accents themselves.

Laura said...

Hey, mister K.

If only more voice actors were really voice ACTING instead of reading lines. It's very boring to listen to, and probably difficult to make interesting on the animators behalf.

I always figured the animators must have had a lot of fun working on Ren. Amazing range on the role of subtle asshole. Some of the faces you guys came up with... with so many expressions in between, it was amazing to watch, and still replayed again and again today. Nothing as good out there has come along since.

I wish you'd put up some examples for animating an accent with some good old Ren and Stimpy screenshots!
::nudge nudge::

Dan! said...

"A good voice track should inspire the animator to use which visual accompaniments most fit the track."
-It's a damn shame when it doesn't. It irks me to hear a great vocal performance (or even a decent one) and see it put to waste with mismatched bland animation.

Ross Irving said...

These head tilts and accents are neat.

So what exactly is an accent?

Is it just when a cartoon anticipates his next action? Like squinting their eyes before they shout?