Saturday, October 29, 2011

Animation Analysis

Analysis of Bernie shot from “The Incredibles”.

The Incredibles is one of my favorite Pixar movies for a few reasons. The story is superb first and foremost.
Second, characters are really appealing and interesting – all across the board, the main characters as well as the secondary and even tertiary. Probably the best one to me is the school teacher Bernie.

He really resonates with me, for whatever reason. I really get the guy, I see how he got into the teaching, a once widely respected job, spreading knowledge and wisdom to the future generations, but instead he enters a world where young kids have only disrespect towards the teachers, and particularly this guy Dash irritates him. He is just perfectly portrayed in my view.
Because of that, I also find his shots perfectly executed. So therefor I have decided to take one of my favorites and break it down into Golden Poses, Keys and Keys+breaks (first pass).
I claim absolutely no copyrights for any of this, nor that any of the following true in any sense. This is my personal analysis of the shot, and I haven’t got the smallest clue if any of it is actually true. I did it to help myself but thought I might as well share it if anybody would happen to come by and find it interesting.
The shot belongs to Pixar/Disney– I guess :)

Alright, here we go!

These are the ones I picked as the Golden Poses.
Bernie walks in, expresses his case, expecting the Principal sitting next to him, to support him, as well as getting an apology from the Mother (Helen) and Dash sitting in front of him.
When Dash responds inappropriately he snaps and breaks his composure.

These 7 Golden Poses/Storytelling Poses defines the major acting choices for the shot.
He walks in, adjusts his glasses, reacts to Dash’s respond, accuses him aggressively, then gets back to a more composed but still determined poses.

The poses are all very clear and works really well together. He has a rather large head so facial is very important here as well, mainly the eyes/eyebrows which is used intelligently to underline his emotion.
Also the shoulders and chest is used nicely, being secure and determined in body language in the first three poses, then he breaks out in accusation and as he re-enters his initial poses again, he is tenser, shoulders are higher and chest is more sunken back, less self-confident.

The next set of keys is added to further define the movement.
Personally I find this stage very difficult because it is so easy to wash out the strength and simplicity there often lies in well-crafted Golden Poses.
This extra set of keys is also very helpful in fleshing out his characteristics in his movement pattern.

By that I mean, when he points towards Dash for instance, he could have gone forward both fast and slowly, both would probably work but be very different. By deciding to have him come forward so quickly after Dash’s response it tells the audience that he reacts instantly and from his heart.
It also helps define the movement within the golden poses.
There is a lot of dialogue that happens between the second and third Golden Poses, and this acting has to be addressed somehow. The animator chose to have him go down a bit and “Openly mocks” and the back up again on “Class”. This I didn’t find to be a part of the Story telling keys because it is part of the subset of movements that happens and are important to get the emotion and movement across believable, but it still works within a bigger set of keys, the Golden Poses, those which defines the broadest stroke to use a painting term.

This is the most fleshed out version I have included today.
This set of poses includes (I my mind) Golden Poses, Key Poses and a first set of Breakdowns.
These breakdowns are mainly used to define how to get from one pose to the next.
It doesn’t add much new to the shot in terms of story, but it is still probably the hardest part of a shot like this (I find).
Its purpose is to define the movement and in that define his emotion.
Technically it is crucial as well as it informs the computer how to inbetween the keys, so it doesn’t just do a straight linear move.
Also they are used to define leads such as in frame 4, where the upper body moves forward the most, then at frame 10 the hip as caught up.

It also defines eases like in frame 50, where the head is posed a lot closer to the previous frame than the next, making it move slowly out and fast into the next. This gives weight and implies there is a force behind the movement that has to accelerate.

Another very important role for the breakdowns is to define arc.
In reality the human joints rotate around each other, driven by muscles. This creates an arc to any movement you do, since rotating something from a fixed point will always make the end move in an arc. In a lot of animation rigs you can define movement by translating (moving) things around. This doesn’t automatically create the arc, which gives it a very linear and robotic look.

When you want to make dynamic movements, arcs are KEY!
An example of such and arc is frame 10 (key) frame 15 (breakdown) and 22 (key).
Instead of moving the hand in a straight line from 10-22 to reach his glasses, the animator moves the hand out, from his head.
This gave it a nice arc, plus it helped clearify the pose as it allowed a nice negative space between the body and the arm/hand, giving it a clear silhouette.
That is it from me.

Below is the clip in real time, found on you tube.

I have no idea if my frame counts are accurate or not, they probably aren’t, as they have been through youtube, cut up in photoshop and stitched together in premiere, just to be uploaded at vimeo in a totally different frame rate probably. But this is more and analysis on acting and poses, keys and breakdowns, more than timing.
Again, I claim no rights to the shot creation, nor that any of the above is true in any sense.
I know I got a whole lot out of studying this piece of perfect animation, and I hope you get a little bit out of it as well.
If anybody happens to read this and want to add a point or two, agree or disagree, feel free to write a comment!


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