|Squirrels by Henry Fenwick|
One of the most common mistakes made by junior animators when they animate two characters interacting is to forget that the audience can only look at one thing at a time.
The basic rule is when animating two characters is to keep it simple, and try to avoid having too much happening at once.
Guide the audience's eye
The most important thing to remember is that, in a two shot, you have to guide the audience's eye from one character to another. Don't assume that the audience is looking where you think they are. If you have too much going on at once, the audience will struggle to understand the meaning of the shot.
Listen and react
Actors understand this instinctively, because they are trained to listen and react while the other character is talking, and performing. But for animators, because we don't create our performance live, we can quickly get lost in the detail. As a result, we have to make a conscious effort not to over-complicate things.
Use the eye direction controller to maintain eye contact
It is very important to ensure that the characters look like they are talking to one another, and their eyes don't float around the screen. Use the eye direction, or "look see", controller to make sure that each character's attention is fixed upon the other. Below is a short video that explains how.
Keep it simple - just animate one character
Here at Animation Apprentice our top tip for students is this: is just animate one character. Two characters are twice as much work, so why not just tackle one at a time. Below is an excellent shot by Animation Apprentice student Victoria Bailey, in which she animates one character speaking to another. The second character is off screen; we don't see them, but we still believe they are there. The shot works great, works just as well as if the second character were on screen.
So, save yourself some work, and just animate one character at a time.
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