Originally posted by sinbad
From the off I could see there was going to be a problem. The tutor thought the students wanted to learn how to act, but what they really wanted was to understand how to construct the illusion of acting from the outside.
The problem with the latter approach is that acting is an illusion. It’s an illusion that the person performing the action is really feeling what they appear to be feeling. For example, I can look at a toy on my desk and act like I’m scared of it. The illusion is my apparent fear of the toy, and if my acting is done well, somone watching me will get the impression that I’m actually scared of the toy. So the idea of there being an “illusion of acting” doesn’t really work. At least not for me.
I did a lot of community theatre before plunging headlong into character animation, and from my experience, some sort of acting background is very helpful, but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary. What is absolutely necessary is observation of human behavior. Actors have to be able to convey the emotions of their characters at a moment’s notice, so naturally they’ve done their own studies of human behavior to get them to that point. Animators also have to be able to convey whatever emotions are necessary for the characters they animate, so it’s equally important to study human behavior. If an animator takes acting classes, it’ll just be a slightly different path to the same goal, and no less valuable in my mind.
However, every animator should expect that someone at some point will ask them, “Have you acted it out?” That doesn’t mean the animator needs to be a first-class actor, or have any acting experience at all. Even without acting experience, the process of personally acting out a given scenario will provide an animator with additional insight into the physical mechanics of the movements involved. What will ultimately provide those insights, though, is that all-important skill of observation.
That’s the mish-mash of my thoughts on this subject. Hopefully some of it makes sense.