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AngelDream
01-22-2005, 01:46 AM
Hi, I'm looking forward to produce a small 3 to 5 minutes short story, but due to low budget, it has to be a mute animation. Watching Chaplin movies...will be any good? I need some ideas on how to capture expression and the overall ambient, and maybe you experienced guys could give me some hint. Thanks in advance for your time.

fwtep
01-22-2005, 02:11 AM
One of the best Chaplins to watch is the feature film, The Circus. Besides being extremely funny, there's a great sequence where he's learning how to be a clown. First he's shown the routine, which isn't funny, then he tries it himself, and in getting it wrong he makes it hilarious. (Chaplin won an Oscar for The Circus at the very first Oscars.)

Generally (VERY generally) speaking, the Chaplin films are a little bit better than the Keatons, Lloyds, etc. at doing without dialog. All of them use title cards, but Chaplin films are a little less "talky."

Another film to look at is Keaton's Sherlock Jr. Besides being one of the most inventive films you'll ever see (and at 45 minutes, one of the shortest features), it has Keaton playing two roles-- the "real" character, and the dream character of Sherlock Jr. Without sound he manages to make both characters very different.

Both films are available in very good versions on DVD, though the Keaton one has a pretty lousy soundtrack (in my opinion). The Chaplin one has a score that he wrote (in the early 70's or so) and it's excellent.

Fred

PS: If you have the opportunity to see any Chaplin or Keaton in a theater, TAKE IT! I live in Los Angeles so there are frequent showings. Most big cities have at least a couple of showings per year.

AngelDream
01-23-2005, 05:31 PM
Thank you very much for your answer and advices. I tried searching for those movies at my local video club but I couldn't get 'em. I'll be trying at the downtown video which has movies since the invention of cinema(I think, :).

When doing this kind of animation, everything has to be exaggerated? like in the theater, where performers exaggerates so the spectators, which are sitting far from scenary, can have a nice idea of the performing? or it could more relaxed like in movies or tv?

fwtep
01-23-2005, 06:20 PM
When doing this kind of animation, everything has to be exaggerated? like in the theater, where performers exaggerates so the spectators, which are sitting far from scenary, can have a nice idea of the performing? or it could more relaxed like in movies or tv?I don't think you have to exaggerate very much. As you'll see when you watch Chaplin and Keaton, they're not nearly as exaggerated as you might think in relation to how people normally think of silent acting.

But part of what will help you keep the exaggeration down is keep the scene itself as understandable as possible. The actors should only have to act and react, rather than try to somehow explain the story; you don't see a lot of dinner table scenes in silent films, and when you do, there are usually more title cards.

One other thing that's interesting to note in the Chaplin and Keaton films is that Chaplin plays to the camera far more often than Keaton does. Keaton generally ignores the camera, whereas Chaplin often looks right at us, letting us in on his joke.

Fred

Sir Saukund
02-20-2005, 12:30 PM
you want to do a animated sequence or short without dialogue - but you want to tell a story, right? So you have to talk.

You have to use your characters bodylanguage which is even richer than any spoken language on earth. If you understand german i can send you my diploma on characteranimation (sorry that I never translated it).
As a contrast to all Chaplin movies I would recommend some books:
Books like "The Animators Workbook", "Animators Survivalkit", "Digital Character Animation II" or "Timing for Animation" can give you some tips or hints but they don't provide any sientific knowledge. For detailed and more backgrounded information I recommend you Michael Argyles "Bodily Communication" and all books by Paul Eckman on facial expression of emotion or the FACT (Facial action coding system).
Ed Hooks "Acting for Animators" can also be very inspiring.

The mistakes I made: I studied the human bodylanguage and tried to transcribe its complexity to a 3d character which couldn't actually work. Reduce all movements to its nescessarity for the story.

greets saukund

dobermunk
02-20-2005, 05:02 PM
Sir Saukind, I'd be interested in having a look at your work. If I have time, I'd translate it for you as well.

On the subject matter, I went to the theater yesterday evening, and was fascinated by the first ~4 minutes of the piece. A beautifully serene woods scene. First, an older man came out, emerging from a pit along the back of the stag. Just as he was about to step on the stage he froze with his foot in the air and head cocked to the side - held this for what must have been near to a minute. Then cautiously proceeded before taking a seat.
It was great - a classic entry, but it established so much about the character.

SirGandolf
02-20-2005, 05:23 PM
On the subject of finding some of the older films try a search for Kino. They have some complete sets.

eks
02-20-2005, 10:47 PM
The mistakes I made: I studied the human bodylanguage and tried to transcribe its complexity to a 3d character which couldn't actually work. Reduce all movements to its nescessarity for the story.
Saukund: could you elaborate more on that? you mean that human bodylanguange doesn´t applies to animated characters? but why? and what you mean by "reducing movements to the necessity of the story?

AngelDream: back on the subject, you can also try to find things from early animators, like Winsor McCay, Max Fleischer and even Disney. i would also say that your choice is right. by making a speechless animation you reach a much much much broader audience. you are not limited by speech/language, anyone from USA to China to South Africa can watch and still understand your story. and even if you have the budget, it would be better to have noises and grunts instead of words. you can have a "sad grunt" or an "angry grunt" or a "happy grunt" that intonation (or tone?) of that noise would be able to tell what the character is feeling/meaning and still be able to be comprehended by a broader audience than a mere word would be.



eks

PS: fwtep: great movie tips!! i will also look for them! :thumbsup:

VM
02-22-2005, 01:41 AM
I think body language is something to study, not to "reduce to its bare bones". in the future we'll see more and more great human animation - and "great" means - to me - "detailed", "accurate".

besides that, clarity in animation is very important, especially with no sound or dialogue. the problem is that in reality, human movement is not "clear" - it doesn't have to "read well". so as we get into more detailed, realistic animation... the harder it is to "keep it real" and "keep it readable" in the same time.

anyway, about animation-without-dialogue: there is so much of it. but good one... that's harder to find. look at Pixar shorts (Geri's Game, For the Birds, etc.)

and the biggest piece of advice I can give: go for an Idea, not an emotion.
(emotions, action, blah blah, details, characters - all this comes later. first: Have an Idea. everything derives from it. for more details, read my comment here: http://cgtalk.com/showthread.php?t=212165 )

AngelDream
02-24-2005, 04:22 PM
Thanks for your replies. Sir Saukund, i would love to take a look at your paper. I don't understand german, but my mother in law do, so please, if you can, send me a copy.

About performing, I've seen some differences between the expressions in "The polar express" and "The incredibles". To me, it's more atractive, appealing and expressive the second one. Maybe it's because of the "performing capture" technique involved in "The polar express", against the squash and stretch animation technique employed in the incredibles. To some point, I think the performing capture is sort of rotoscopy. Maybe I'm risking too much saying this, but the fact that perf.cap. tries to copy all of the movement reminds me of it. I'm sure you remember that when Disney did some rotoscopy for one of their films, everyone hated it, since it didn't offered the enough expression to the animation, and so Walt(or someone within) said that the animation should be "believable, not realistic".
The incredibles has been created using the old techniques, and it's a lot more expressive. Trying to bring real live action into 3d-2d animation...maybe it just doesn't work.

What do you think?

bobtilton
02-24-2005, 04:35 PM
An interesting almost silent animation done recently is "The Triplets of Belleville"

Sir Saukund
03-09-2005, 11:01 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Saukund
The mistakes I made: I studied the human bodylanguage and tried to transcribe its complexity to a 3d character which couldn't actually work. Reduce all movements to its nescessarity for the story.


Saukund: could you elaborate more on that? you mean that human bodylanguange doesn´t applies to animated characters? but why? and what you mean by "reducing movements to the necessity of the story?



I fergot to tell you that the character I had was a not realistic boy, more comic-style. This reduction in his shape needs the same abstraction in his movements. The character doesn't have the complexity to apply "realistic" animation.
My second mistake was that I implemented animation sequences that wheren't nescessary to the story. I added confusing movements between the nescessary poses (my purpose was to reach complexity). It wasn't readable anymore and the story went lost. As Zamolxes said - clarity is very important.


zamolxes I think body language is something to study, not to "reduce to its bare bones". in the future we'll see more and more great human animation - and "great" means - to me - "detailed", "accurate".


Zamolxes - good post, you are absolutely right that the idea comes first. I also agree with the problem of keeping complexity readable. What you said about "great means detailed", don't you think that the growing complexity of animation is more and more a matter of machines more than a matter of a qualified animator? My feeling about the devellopment of animation is, that we're reaching more and more human musclecomplexity while my view of animation (reduction, abstraction, playing with basic pattern reception,...) becomes a matter of art, it becomes a minority.

AngelDream - didn't see the polar express yet. But what you say underlines my paragraph above that classical methods are no longer important for worldwide animationdevelopment. It's like special-effected actionmovies vs. dogma 95 movies.

greets ce-mon

ThinkStory
03-09-2005, 09:30 PM
Hi,

actually, I just replied to another person's post who
had a similar issue.

To tell a good story without words means that you must
play with the audience's emotions rather than their intellect.

Chaplin's stories are focused on laughter that doesn't require THINKING
that's why it works without dialog, that's why it's slapstick.

The key here is to think of an emotion/feel/theme you want
your audience to get out of this story. Then, decide what plot
line you want. Plotlines are complicated, emotions are simple, your
story is not only short but it's also mute so focus on intuition rather
than rationalization.

Let me know if this helps.

ThinkStory

Jean Genie
03-23-2005, 05:56 AM
Whether you choose to start with an emotion or an idea (it works both ways for me), the most important thing is to get the pacing right. The "Animator's Survival Kit" covers it pretty well. I would also recommend Jacques Tati for a look at how pacing can be played with.

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