I have been away from Fanime for nearly a decade. The convention surely has grown in many new and interesting ways. Now is a great time to be nostalgic and replay my greatest hits!
I would enjoy leading another Endless Evangelion panel. My infamy on Youtube is starting to wane and I need to stir up the LCL again. If my credentials need 'membering, I did the commentary track on the ADV DVDs for the final few episodes of NGE. I also wrote the cover article for the release of Evangelion 1.0 in Otaku USA. If possible, I'd like to be in a room that allows is to talk all night.
Back in the day I also ran 9 hours of lecture on the fundamentals of animation, script-writing, and 2D animation technology. This was drawn from my years of training by PIXAR animators and the countless graphic novels I rewrote for VIZ Media. I am not clear where my talking head is best focused. My first love is animation and I felt disgusted how little my fellow anime fans appreciated the illusion of life created at twelve frames a second. If anyone here sees value in my proselytizing traditional animation, please let me know! Likewise, I have rewritten manga scripts for all three primary genres and did the art retouch/layout or illustration on over 50000 pages of published comics.
Would anyone be interested in learning:
a. Importance of story and design
b. “People who think they can animate a short film because they watch TV and movies are like people who think they can write an opera just because they heard some music.”
c. The history of anime and animation in general, from the WWII period to the directors of today.
d. Introduction to CONTRAST in design.
2. Animated Storytelling
a. What is a story?
i. Selecting a series of events from the life of your protagonist(s) that illustrate what you want to say in your story.
ii. “I spent the first half of my career trying to figure out what notes to add to my music. I spent the last half figuring which ones to take out.”
iii. How simple a story can be.
iv. What is a story point?
b. What is a character?
i. Character vs. Characterization: making choices under pressure
ii. Why is this character in the story?
iii. Do we empathize with the character, or just sympathize?
c. Starting with a shot
i. The Establishment
ii. The Inciting Incident
iii. The Anticipation
iv. The Climax
v. The Denouement
vi. What is the Story Point? Where is the CHANGE?
vii. Why is this shot in the film?
viii. Where in the film does it belong, and what shots come before and after it?
ix. What is my character thinking, and why?
d. A Sequence
i. A series of shots related by a story point or technical consideration.
ii. Use of editing to control the narrative.
iii. Juxtaposition of Un-inflected Imagery: The Eisenstein tests.
e. An Act
i. Series of Shots that satisfy an internal story arc.
ii. Why have acts?
iii. 3 acts vs. 7 acts, and other choices in pacing.
f. The Plot
i. The series of events that satisfy the internal story arc carried through all of the acts since the inciting incident.
ii. What is the single thread that all exposition is hanging on? Is it a story between characters, or of characters?
iii. What does it all mean? Minimalism vs. epic change.
v. Ramping up excitement and creating pregnant moments
g. Controlling Exposition and Entertainment
i. Narrative coherency
ii. Joyce’s epiphany
iii. Symbol structure
iv. Giving people what they want in a way they don’t expect to get it.
v. “Have an original idea on a common matter”
vi. Baiting interest in the audience so they want to know what happens next.
h. Knowing what the character is thinking.
i. Do you know more than the character / are you ahead of the character? (A monster hiding behind the door but he doesn’t know)
ii. Are you behind the character? (What is he going to do with that gun?)
iii. Are you with the character? (Hurry up; the cave is collapsing—RUN!)
iv. The magic McGuffin
v. Expectation does not meet result.
vi. Internal vs. external character motivations.
vii. Place a character in a situation that juxtaposes his external demeanor with his internal conflict.
viii. Surround a character with other characters that represent his conflict so you can deal with exposition in dialogue and acting.
ix. Making acting choices.
x. How is the character changing?
3. Animation Principles
a. Disney invented (discovered) cartoon physics.
b. Creating the illusion of life
c. Squash and Stretch
i. The Bouncing Ball
ii. The hopping mascot character
iii. The building block for all moving forms
iv. Preserving volumetrics and maintaining audience perception of form
i. Nothing EVER moves in a straight line (!)
ii. Simple arcs are easier to comprehend for the audience, and do not distract from the action.
iii. Stuttering in motion implies change, and change implies a story point.
iv. The main arc of the focal point, with supporting arcs for aesthetics and appeal
i. Drawing in extremes
ii. Defining the focal point of an action
iii. Aiming before picking up an object
1. Acting for the stage
2. Getting keys from your pocket
3. Showing the audience what you are doing before you do it
iv. Winding up before a release
v. Abusing anticipation for a quick gag
i. Show the audience what you did after doing it
ii. Use to anticipate the next action
iii. Elements of character can be defined in the style of recovery.
iv. Contrast between the anticipation and follow-through can be used to show the strength or weakness of a character, her emotional state, and many other defining traits. This contrast is also a perfect setup for a gag.
i. Internal vs. External
ii. Character driven or physics
iv. Clearly demonstrating where the motivation and resistance come from and how it influences the character.
h. Overlapping action
i. Parts of the body move at different times, and come to rest at different times
1. Bunny Ears
3. Arms/ Legs
4. A person jumping and landing, with force traveling from the point of contact through the entire body.
ii. Kinematic realism vs. loose body deformation
iii. Rigid internal form with loose attached form.
iv. Maintaining arcs and aesthetics while conserving physics.
i. Secondary Motion
i. The action that adds to the appeal and believability of the main action but does not distract from it
ii. Using secondary motion to secretly anticipate the next action and recover from the previous.
iii. Using secondary action in editing (shot juxtaposition)
i. Whatever you do, make it appealing, entertaining and clear!
ii. Showing what you need to, hiding what would distract.
iii. Appeal is the pleasing and fascinating quality that makes a person enjoy the look of any drawing or any design choice.
iv. There is little time for a viewer to interpret the meaning of a drawing. If the drawing is too refined and detailed then the story will not be clearly communicated. Use simple and direct drawings.
v. Appeal is the same as an actor’s charisma.
k. Silhouette / Staging
i. Present the action / pose so it is unmistakably clear.
ii. Stage to best address Story Point
iii. One action at a time
iv. A hand in front of a chest is hard to see – think positive vs. negative space.
v. Make sure the action can read in silhouette
vi. “Stage an action so it can be recognized, an emotion so it can be empathized, an expression so it can be understood, and a personality so it can be interpreted.”
i. Personalities are developed more by their movements than by how the character looks.
ii. By controlling the speed and timing of an action, you can create the sense of weight, emotion, effort, and most every other quality of your scene.
iii. Ramping up a series of actions
iv. Controlling the moment of climax
v. What does it mean in drawings?
m. Exaggeration and Realism
i. Exaggerated movements are clearer for the audience, and appear more “real” than rotoscoped movements.
ii. Pushing it for appeal and entertainment.
iii. Staunch reality to illustrate serious mood
n. Weight and Balance
i. Physics must be preserved.
ii. If an object is denying physics (flight, etc) it must address the fact that it is denying physics to be properly appreciated. (i.e. showing anticipation before taking off to fly)
iii. Know your object’s center of mass. Arcs rely on centers of mass.
iv. Preserve weight and balance for clarity – any change implies a story point.
i. The HERO pose
ii. Addressing the story point without animating anything
iv. Moving holds
v. Showing change in emotion
vi. Capturing the conflict of the scene in the pose of the character
p. Final Thoughts on Animation Principles
i. KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID (KISS)
1. One thing at a time!
2. An action must be recognizable before the audience can interpret its meaning.
ii. CONTRAST is the key to everything!
iii. “The medium lacks the subtle shadow patterns that can reveal the shades of character in a person so we must concentrate on acting and story”
iv. “It is a crude medium, but it is its limitations that made it develop into such a communicative art that continues to astound the world.”
4. Animation Today
a. 3D Animation vs. Traditional
b. Animation around the world
c. Other animation techniques (sand, oil on glass, clay, puppets, etc.)
d. Animation equipment.
i. Animation paper
iii. Pencil test
v. Ink n paint
1. by hand
3. the future
vi. handling dialogue
1. slugging the track
2. Japanese vs. English lip synch and animation
3. the importance of good acting
vii. X[posure] sheets
viii. Harmonizing and backgrounds.
e. Animation Jobs
iii. Key animation
iv. Lead animation
v. Animation directing
vi. Character design
f. Steps to make a film
ii. Character design
iv. Leica reel
vi. Key animation
ix. Ink n paint
x. Dialogue and score
xi. Final Product
I am willing to host How to Talk to Girls again. That panel was very popular but I am nearing 40 years old, married with children. I heard others were carrying on the tradition. Old pickup lines are new again.