Tuesday 27 November 2012

Acting Reference #2

Tom Hanks eyes

Another fine example of telling the story with his eyes. I like the part where he indicates with his eyes to jnny that he wants to go to his son. The eyes flick back and fourth,

Acting Reference

Danielle Radcliffe Eyes!!

Harry Potter dosen't talk in this scene but his subtle acting is great. His eyes tell the whole story.


Friday 28 September 2012

Ed Hooks take on Pixars Story telling.

First off I'm a huge fan Of Pixar and I love their films. And recently a viral post was published outlining power points for Pixar's story telling. I think Ed has some interesting points, on the masters of story telling.
#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
A character that is not doing something theatrically will bore the audience. ?Trying? is another word for what actors know as ?playing an action?.  The rest of the equation is:  ?Play an action in pursuit of an (provable) objective while overcoming an obstacle.?
#2: You gotta keep in mind what?s interesting to you as an audience, not what?s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
Storytelling is all about communicating with the audience. The audience is an essential participant, not an optional one.  An actor requires an audience in order to act.  Acting is not something you do by yourself at home, right? 
#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won?t see what the story is actually about til you?re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
?Trying? for theme?  Theme should be the reason you tell a story in the first place. A story without a point to it is just weird.  Theme is not something you discover at the end, after which you rewrite the script to support it. Your theme comes first.  The story supports the theme, not the other way around.
#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
This is an extremely clever formulation. Filling in the blanks is the tough part though.
#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You?ll feel like you?re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
Truly great artists in every field habitually practice simplicity.  It is in fact a hallmark of artistic maturity.
#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
This is a roundabout way of saying that there should be conflict (obstacle) for a character.  Ms. Coats makes it sound like a game of some sort, but it is actually essential.  A scene is a negotiation.  If you write a scene that does not contain a negotiation, it cannot be fixed.  Tear it up and start over.  
#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
The ending is the point of the story, don?t you think?  If you don?t know how your story ends, then you don't have a theme, and you don?t have a story to write.
#8: Finish your story, let go even if it?s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
I read somewhere that Sylvester Stallone set out to write x-number of scripts, good bad or godawful.  The goal was simply to complete them, from Fade In to Fade Out.  ?Rocky? was completed-script number thirteen.
#9: When you?re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN?T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
When you are stuck, a more effective strategy would be to go for a walk, get an ice cream cone, play catch with your kid. Creativity is not something you ignite with force, as in writing lists of what would ?not? happen next in a story.  That strikes me as an unproductive waste of time.
#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you?ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
I've got an even better idea: Watch ?The Iron Giant?.  If you don?t like that story and understand why you like it, you may very possibly be in the wrong racket. (Hint: like "Monsters Incorporated", "The Iron Giant" is extremely shamanistic.)
#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you?ll never share it with anyone.
Yup.  Ever read a book entitled ?Writing Down the Bones??   Good stuff.  Keep your fingers moving.
#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th ? get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
It is always a great temptation to lazily follow the road most traveled or copy the formula that worked in the previous movie. Stories and characters that are predictable are a big bore.  Here is a good tip:  Listen to your character, collaborate with him.  You lead for a while, and then let him lead for a while, and the journey will be much more exciting.
#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it?s poison to the audience.
Nobody wants to pay to watch a movie featuring bland characters that behave blandly, regardless of how cleverly they might be designed.  Cute is insufficient, even for Pixar. 
#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What?s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That?s the heart of it.
This should be rule #1, and it is the rule most violated by the major animation studios these days.  The quest for mega-ton box office grosses is a cynical motivation for storytelling.
#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
Stanislavsky called this "the magic if".  Really, all it means is that you need to empathize with the character you are creating. 
#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don?t succeed? Stack the odds against.
The wonderful thing about Shakespeare?s plays is the high stakes.  If the boy doesn?t get the girl, France will fall!  A story worth telling is inherently going to have Shakespearean stakes.
#17: No work is ever wasted. If it?s not working, let go and move on ? it?ll come back around to be useful later.
As was the case with rule #9, if it?s not working, take a break.  Make love with your partner; go outside and prune the rose bushes, take a swim.  Creativity works like that.  It cannot be forced.  It must be allowed.
#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." (Heraclitus) Knowing yourself is a process, not a goal that can ever be completed.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
Coincidence is, for any story purpose, cheap currency. The most talented writers do not rely on coincidence after the first couple of pages. 
#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d?you rearrange them into what you DO like?
I wonder how this would apply to ?Mars Needs Moms? or ?The Bee Movie?, projects that arguably should never have been green-lighted in the first place.  In general, I think more can be learned by analyzing bad movies than admiring good ones. 
#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can?t just write ?cool?. What would make YOU act that way?
If a writer cannot personally identify with his characters, it is inevitable that he will create stereotypes of zero complexity.
#22: What?s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
Why is this rule 22?  Along with rule 14, it belongs at the top of the list, not the bottom.

Magic IF?

 Here's a great link to Stanislavski magic If formula.


Wednesday 14 March 2012


A few shots from around Berlin. When I see these photos it always makes me smile.
Ich bin Ein Berliner!

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Timing Animals ’ Movements Horse

Ever been confused by animal walking ...?

Timing for animation by harold whitaker.

The order in which the feet of a horse touch the ground is: back left, front left,back right, front right, back left, front left, back right, front right, etc If 24 frames are taken as the length of a walk cycle, i.e. back left hits the ground on frame 1, ‘ back right ’ hits the ground on frame 13, and ‘ front left ’ and ‘ front right ’ hit the ground on frames 7 and 19 respectively.

In the step position on the back legs, on frames 1 and 13, the back legs form two sides of a triangle. The rump is lower than it is on frames 7 and 19, where one leg is vertical as the other one passes it. The shoulders are lower on frames 7 and 19 than they are on frames 1 and 13 for the same reason. This causes a slight rocking movement to the line of the horse’s back. Also on

the front step positions, as the shoulders go down, the head is pulled into a slightly more horizontal slant than it is on frames 1 and 13.

Great advice.

Friday 10 February 2012


Breakdowns (My take on a Keith Lango take on Breakdowns.)

The Breakdown defines the movement. It defines the character of the motion.

If the motion is flat, the breakdown needs punched up!

If you like the performance but not the motion, That's a breakdown issue.

1. Key Poses

2. Primary Breakdowns

3. Secondary Breakdown

4. Polish

Secondary Breakdown.

Define additional details of the motion where Primary Breakdowns are not enough.

Eases, additional arc definition, additional overlap, small anticipation, Overshoot and settle.

Secondary BD develops the interest of the movement.

If you change your key pose, you have to change your BD.

Key out the key poses stacked (next to each other)

Add Breakdowns, but favour the spacing.

Then add the secondary breakdowns that help define additional details, : Overlap, anticipation, etc

Breakdowns help you define the motion between Key poses

Secondary Breakdowns help define the movement between the Breakdown and the Key poses.

Breakdown shows the emotion, Does he get from point A to B, fast or slow.

Do not time out your scene until you finish your breakdowns.

Gesture before you say the word , reactions will be timed after the sound. Good lip sync comes early.

Time it out on your thumbnails. Some moves need more than one primary breakdown. Breakdown help define how the motion works.

Your Breakdowns can effect change in the Key Poses, things can always be changed, to improve the scene, try not to think to dogmatic and use the guide lines and principles as guides.

Adding Breakdown

Keys Stacked. RIGHT?

Drag out the second pose by one frame , select the 1st pose, with all controllers selected and change to linear.

This gives you a half way point. You can borrow that and changes in terms of FAVOURING, DRAG/OVERLAP AND ARC.

Sometimes you require more Breakdowns if the computer is doing to much work.

For example:

You want the BODY to favour and hit the Key poses before the limbs hit

The body is getting closer, the Key Pose, we've got more information now, we're not asking the computer to do are job.

Develop your breakdowns, mess around with them and get more SQUASH and STRETCH in the body, hands and arms.

Just because you change your breakdown it doesn't mean you don't change your Key pose, ALWAYS IMPROVE YOUR SCENE.


Pose1 Primary Breakdown Pose 2

Primary Breakdowns





Where the Breakdown has a visual appearnece that is more like one pose and less like the other.




Drag or animated forces, Gives the scene of weight and inertia to the motion. Parts lag behind other parts, Creating a combined sense of overlapping motion.

Overlap is built into the breakdown.


Bio-motion Moves predominantly in arcing patterns. Good primary breakdowns indicate the major motion arc of the part in the motion.


· Favouring

· Overlap/drag

· Arcs