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In animation the relationship between the animator and the character is one of master/slave, where the character can be made to do anything by the animator and this god like power is what attracts many megalomaniacs to the field. When the animator know his/her character well the charcter starts to have a life of it’s own and the animator knows how the character would act in different situations.

Since the appearance of a character can be readily changed in animation, the character designer is able to push features in a direction which suits the personality of the character.

Here is a list of things that the class came up with in regards to what makes a character:

  • Physical characteristics/clothing
  • Anthropomorphic
  • Idiosyncrasies
  • Contrasts
  • A past which influences the way the character behaves now
  • The way they sound
  • The way they move (e.g speed)
  • Relationship with others
  • Flaws
  • Wants/Motivations
  • Abilities/Disabilities
  • Environment and how they react to it
  • Their mood
  • Personality
  • Reactions
  • Change, character arc

It is important to remember what a character sounds like, it is easy to get caught up with the visuals of a character but the sound will make up a large part of this character. The character does not necessarily have to be humanoid, for example a chair is in Norman McClaren for at NFBC. For the character to be believable it must act consistently within the story, the character can change (an the audience enjoy seeing the character change in some way) but this is a gradual change (character arc) and is different to the character acting one way one minute and acting in an inconsistent way the next moment. In this case the audience will find it hard accept the character, is he one or the other?
The audience’s imagination is powerful tool, use it to save on animating things, you dont have to spoon feed everything to them, leave something to spark their imagination and it will be more powerful than any animation. Interesting results can be achieved by putting known characters in new environments.

We looked at the short film Cloud Cover which elegantly deals with the issue of depression. In this case depression is represented as a cloud which is a character of it’s own in the film.

External Manifestation of an Interior State (EMIS)

  • What do we know about the character?
  • How do we know it?
  • What do they want?

As an example we looked at the short film Hitch where in the first part of the film we are misled by the clues that we are given about the types of characters we are seeing. This surprises the audience and puts a smile on their face. It’s good to play with the audience’s expectations to break them out of the patterns which they have seen over and over again. Balance your characters so that they are a match for each other, stories are about conflicts and no one likes to watch a one sided conflict.

Here are the notes for character:

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