Friday, June 15, 2007
Six Authors In Search of a Character: Part 9A, An Example
This clip from Ratatouille fortuitously arrived online. It's a clear demonstration of what I've been talking about in my thesis/MRP. Note how many acting decisions have been made before the animators start work. I'm not talking about script issues, which are going to be common to any film or play. I'm talking about things specific to the process of acting in animated films.
The voices have been cast. Their sound, their emotional delivery, and their timing have been nailed down by the voice actors and the director. The character designs have determined audience perceptions about the characters' personalities. The storyboard process blocked out the action in terms of the characters' physical attitudes. The layout process further refined the characters' behaviour. It's only after these stages that the animators start to work.
In many ways, it doesn't matter if the animators are cast by character or by shot, because in either case so much of the performance has already been nailed down.
Obviously, this system can be made to work from the standpoint of entertaining audiences. It's been working since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and certainly Pixar knows how to make it work well. But it is manifestly clear to me that even animators working on high budget features don't have nearly the freedom that live actors have to shape a performance. Is it possible in this system for an animator to create a performance or merely complete it? Is there anyone who believes that under this system animators are contributing all they are capable of to the performances in a film?