Monday, May 04, 2009

Skulkin take 2

I'm getting some practice in... learning to get my animation more under control, so a puppet's movements start to look coordinated and graceful, rather than disjointed and spasmodic. As I begin to get this kind of control I can start to make the movements become dramatic - the next step.

I had a good long conversation with Jay Wojnarowski - AKA 1BigLebowski on YouTube, who is a theatrical actor / director and has received training at Dell' Arte International School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake California. Maybe you wouldn't know it from seeing what he's posted on YouTube so far, but this guy really knows his stuff!! And, if you've looked at any of his behind-the scenes videos, you know he likes to talk, so I got a good detailed overview from him about physical theatre and commedia dell'arte, which is very closely related to stopmotion - at least the kind of stopmotion I'm interested in. It's the type of training clowns get, and mimes, and silent film comedians.

So I ordered a few books and I'm studying the physical training techniques developed by Jaques Lecoq, who pretty much single-handedly developed these methods (according to his book anyway) - or I should say re-discovered the techniques used in ancient Commedia and Greek Tragic theatre and further developed them.

Jay stresses the importance of the actor in the process.... having been thoroughly trained in physical theater an actor knows how to bring his character to life, and doesn't need permission from a director or writer... he's the main driving force behind the creation of the character and of the drama onstage.

So I'm now changing my focus from researching drama and story to actual performance. Don't misunderstand.... of course it's important to study drama and story, but unless you can express something through actual performance, it's a moot point. Until you're capable as an actor/animator of creating dramatic moments through your puppets, you can't really tell a story with them. So I'm beginning there.

Lecoq puts a lot of emphasis on mask work... training actors by putting masks on them. It frees an actor up... strips away the face and the social persona and puts emphasis on motions of the entire body. I think this is very similar to animating a puppet in a silent performance. So I plan to try some of the exercises he discusses. More to come...


emmyymme said...

Wow! I love the personality in his walk, and the finger tapping - he really emotes!

Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Hi Darkmatters,

I can see what you mean. Skulkin is taking on personality not just movement.

Question: Do you have a picture of the size of Skulkin?

I keep trying to gain perspective of what you are doing here and I think it would help me understand just what scale you are working with.

You do look like you are having fun with him. I'm looking forward to more clips.


people in gorillasuits said...

He really gains character -I really like tha way he carefully walks on the tips of his toes; and the idea with the mask and the actor (and why we don't see Skulkin's face...) is really great - things so obvious that they are too easy overlooked. And my favorite part: pondering and scratching his back end. Great stuff !!!

Shelley Noble said...

Watching the shifts of your interest, as your focus progresses through the stages of process, is like getting an education in film mastery.

jriggity said...

Ha! MORE!!!

keep um coming .


StopmoNick said...

I actually like that gravity-defying forward lean! It's a pose defined more by his attitude than mundane stuff like physics. I'm serious about this - I've seen plenty of bad animation where the character is off-balance and only held up by those tie-downs we're not supposed to know about, but this is different. It has a purpose, like you know the rules but bend them to express more than realism can.
Nice pauses, little gestures, and all very smoothly done. Great to see some actual animating coming out of these extensive studies.
Nick H
(My gmail account means this site sees me as a blogger, even though I don't have a blog.)

Darkstrider said...

Wow, thanks Nick!!! I like your description better than mine.... I actually had intended for him to move a lot faster, to sort of tip forward off balance, and then run his feet underneath really fast. Heh... wow, did I blow that one!! But when I saw the way it looked, I felt like you did... I liked it even though it looked "wrong". And... I hesitate to say this, but.... I see something just a bit Harryhausenish about the way he moves. One day I will do some creature animation, informed by what Im learning from this.

And Lady Euphoria (if you're still looking at this) I'll try to post a pic of Skulky with some size reference soon.

bRYEnd_of_the_schtick said...

(^ nice butt scratch.
oh! and ANY MIME does the physics defying move.

(^ it's all in the toes and strong ankles.
(^ how ELSE get across the magnetic pull of interest without cheating and overtly finger stabbing
(^ at some point of interest?!

(^ wHelp.. back to mute mode fer me.
just wanted to grin in on USe for the skull studies.
(^ now go give yer mummy a squwunch. it's her day.
(^ and if you don't have one? find someone ELSE's maternal link and offer to do their hair or something.
(^ toodles! (^>prosser

FleaCircusDirector said...

Such is the mamoth task of the independent animator in that you need to be both producer, director, actor, sound designer and camera man.

I'm not quite sure quite what your Skulkin was doing, but I did believe he was alive.

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