People Watching

Have you ever sat down in a coffee shop or restaurant and just watched people? I know, it sounds creepy but it’s so different to look at people and do it though you were studying them. Years ago, I sat in on an acting workshop. The teacher asked the students to go out and observe 3 gestures and incorporate them into a scene. One student took a girl combing her hair, combined it with foot tapping and gum chewing. Yes, this may sound a bit cliché’ but it was taken from life and used in a different way. There are so many observations, good and bad that we can look at and learn from. A director did cool bit of reference that he showed the animator’s years ago. As I remember it involved a conversation between two people at dinner. You couldn’t hear what they were saying but everything was told with body language. It was staged perfectly. The situation was so clear. If you can see the acting without the dialogue, then you are in good shape. Coming up with good ideas is hard. As a student, or professional it’s so important to always be storing the moments you see in our heads. Some animators keep a notepad in their back pocket. I wish I did that. Try it for one day and see how many ideas you get. Many good ideas have been forgotten or watered down. The great scenes always stick out because they make you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  Observation is the animators tool for building good ideas and believable acting.