When The Dialogue Ends, The Character Keeps Talking.

I’ve been planning a lecture recently on dialogue and I was trying to grab some images as reference. I did a Google image search for “mouth + lips” in the hope of finding some diagrams of the mouth and it’s mechanics and the image of the Mona Lisa popped up. I stopped dead in my tracks. I have a point in some of my notes addressing the importance of “inner dialogue” and keeping a character alive when they’re not talking, but this simple image search made me think of the concept on an entirely new level.

Most of us are familiar with the Mona Lisa and it’s significance in history. Having said that, anyone I’ve talked to who has actually seen this piece in person at the Musee du Louvre, the first thing they usually say is, “I never knew it was that small.” What an amazing statement that is if you analyze it. Why does that surprise people? Because of how large an impact that picture has had on people for centuries. It’s amazing to see what a sideways glance and the upturned corner of the mouth can do to inflame the imagination of an audience. I don’t mean to raise the bar too high, but that’s the exact kind of thing you should be thinking about when animating your dialogue. When the track ends, you must keep the character alive. Thoughts need to remain engaged, and it’s amazing sometimes to realize how little it takes. I find myself also being reminded of the power of a single, motionless pose.

What is truly amazing to me is that the piece transcends the artist. I’m a big fan of Leonardo, but when you think about it, this piece is far greater than the artist who created it. Why? Because after more than 500 years… it’s still alive.