Above is a shot that I animated on "The Thief and the Cobbler". It is a useful example of how to use live action reference to creating animation. This shot was animated in around 1991, and to get it right I filmed myself acting it out, using an old-fashioned video camera on a tripod, mounted near the ground to get the right camera angle. Then, I played back the footage frame by frame on the VCR, tracing over the key poses with a blue pencil on a piece of paper pressed against the glass of the TV screen, anchored with some peg bars. By doing this I was able to figure out all the key poses, and make sure the weight shifts were believable and based on real reference.
Animators are actors. One of the hardest things for junior animators to learn is how to use live action reference to create animation. This is one of the core skills we teach at Animation Apprentice, and it is a technique that I have been able to rely on for decades to get my shots approved by the director, at studios like Disney, DreamWorks, Sony and Warner Bros. Learn this system, and you will have a long career as an animator.
Resources for Acting and Performance at Animation Apprentice
To see more resources at Animation Apprentice on how to approach animating acting and performance shots, read these blog posts:
- Why Animators Should Start with an Idea
- Why animators should avoid a profile view
- Dialogue and Lipsync Tutorial
- How to Build and Block a Scene
- Why Animators Need "Head Muppeting"
- Why Animators Should Avoid Famous Lines of Dialogue
- How to Animate a "Two Shot"
- Getting Eye Direction Right
- Seven Questions for Actors & Animators