So I'm getting ready to start my first project with actual dialog, so I've been doing a bunch of exercises to work on synching a puppet's movements to an audio track. No mouths or worries about lip-synching right now. I'm just focused on the movements.

I'd really appreciate any feedback.Thanks.

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And here's one more.

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I like both of these, and in general the timing is great. I have some thoughts but I can't write a lot tonight due to time, but tomorrow I could.  In the meantime, could you tell me (us) what your process is for timing out your  movements? Do you use a dope sheet software of any kind? 

I like your use of Monty Ptyhon, much appreciated!

I used Dragonframe to break down the audio file. Its built-in X-sheet function is pretty robust and very easy to set up.

Hey Grecodan,

 Sorry for the late reply. 

I have done about 10 minutes of stop-motion acting in my film, almost done, so I have learned a few things about animating dialog. I got better as I go. My perspective is just my feelings and others may have great feedback as well. 

About the 'tearing me apart' clip: The movements don't match the anger/frustration of the audio. I think it should hit accents way harder and the movements should be faster. I've learned that it's hard to hit and hold a pose, but that's what you should work on. Hit a Good pose, (it has to be a good, readable pose), and hold it for some frames. I swear, it feels like cheating, not touching the puppet and capturing frames, but it works.   I feel like the anger / confusion ramps up in the audio, but the motions actually seem to diminish. Did you feel like you were almost done with the animation of the clip, and kinda got tired?  That happens to me about half way thru, so I take a break in animating, and come back fresh. Then I can push the puppet before I am looking for the finish line of the last frame.

The parrot sketch: This one has great timing and solid acting choices, and it works for me except for a few things.  I think he should have started with the pose of his hands on hips. Going there during his "I took the liberty" line feels late. Start the shot in the pose and it sets the tone, and the viewer will feel it.   I feel like the word 'parrot' is a big accent, and you hit it pretty early, and that feels like a missed opportunity, but this is a minor thing.   I see that in this clip you have no problem with holding a pose for x number of frames, so my previous note may be just my experience. I'm getting better at just clicking the shutter when I need to hold a pose.    I see and Love the little finger follow-thru you have when he moves it, that's a great touch. Kudos on that.

I hope this is good feedback. In general, I see that you're just doing body mechanics and no lip sync / eye acting, and that's a solid approach. You'll really sell your acting when you incorporate those elements. It starts to get really fun when you do those things.

In general, what I've learned that has allowed me to get better at acting:

Hit accents on the beat, after counting down to the accent (mark your dope sheet with '6 frames to accent, 5 frames to accent', etc down to zero) and then hold that pose.

Take breaks so you're not 'phoning in' the last acting choices just to reach the end of the shot. Fatigue is a thing, counteract it with breaks.

 Keep going, you're on the right track. It's fun to animate dialog, no?

Geoff

Thanks for the comments, Geoff! I agree with everything you wrote.

One of the big challenges I'm having is getting the confidence to "move fast" and focus on strong poses, with effective ease-ins and -outs. The films I've done to date have been very slow (and silent!) so this is really something new for me.

I just now started working with sync dialog, but I'm still having that issue of "too many moves" and not enough focus on the beats.

Having fun getting there, tho. Thanks again for the feedback.

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I appreciate the feedback you've given here, Geoff. It seems to me that in stop motion, just as in acting, you need to slightly exaggerate moves and expressions beyond that of real life.



Geoff Clark said:

Hey Grecodan,

 Sorry for the late reply. 

I have done about 10 minutes of stop-motion acting in my film, almost done, so I have learned a few things about animating dialog. I got better as I go. My perspective is just my feelings and others may have great feedback as well. 

About the 'tearing me apart' clip: The movements don't match the anger/frustration of the audio. I think it should hit accents way harder and the movements should be faster. I've learned that it's hard to hit and hold a pose, but that's what you should work on. Hit a Good pose, (it has to be a good, readable pose), and hold it for some frames. I swear, it feels like cheating, not touching the puppet and capturing frames, but it works.   I feel like the anger / confusion ramps up in the audio, but the motions actually seem to diminish. Did you feel like you were almost done with the animation of the clip, and kinda got tired?  That happens to me about half way thru, so I take a break in animating, and come back fresh. Then I can push the puppet before I am looking for the finish line of the last frame.

The parrot sketch: This one has great timing and solid acting choices, and it works for me except for a few things.  I think he should have started with the pose of his hands on hips. Going there during his "I took the liberty" line feels late. Start the shot in the pose and it sets the tone, and the viewer will feel it.   I feel like the word 'parrot' is a big accent, and you hit it pretty early, and that feels like a missed opportunity, but this is a minor thing.   I see that in this clip you have no problem with holding a pose for x number of frames, so my previous note may be just my experience. I'm getting better at just clicking the shutter when I need to hold a pose.    I see and Love the little finger follow-thru you have when he moves it, that's a great touch. Kudos on that.

I hope this is good feedback. In general, I see that you're just doing body mechanics and no lip sync / eye acting, and that's a solid approach. You'll really sell your acting when you incorporate those elements. It starts to get really fun when you do those things.

In general, what I've learned that has allowed me to get better at acting:

Hit accents on the beat, after counting down to the accent (mark your dope sheet with '6 frames to accent, 5 frames to accent', etc down to zero) and then hold that pose.

Take breaks so you're not 'phoning in' the last acting choices just to reach the end of the shot. Fatigue is a thing, counteract it with breaks.

 Keep going, you're on the right track. It's fun to animate dialog, no?

Geoff

Here's my two penn'orth. Have you tried acting it out and doing a LAV? It does of course depend on what style you are aiming for, but I reckon that the gestures would have more effect if you do less. I agree with Geoff about getting e.g. the point to hit the exact frame he says ''You" and then holding for more than seems quite comfortable.

At the moment the gestures seem quite puppety, over demonstrative, probably because you may feel a need to do something at every moment. And a gesture can express something other than just the words. For instance at the end of the first clip the puppet could put a hand to his head, suggesting confusion or despair, rather than the slightly odd shaking out of the hands to coincide with the speech. Have a look at Barry Purves' book, where he rails against very demonstrative puppet acting.

I confess to being a neophyte here. I am working on my first project so my portfolio is still empty. I enjoy the process of problem solving throughout the spectrum of this medium be it, technical or artistic and how the two merge. I look forward to learning as I go and the rewards that come with the work put into it. 

Thanks for the comment! Yes, I seem to have a tendency to pantomime the exact meaning of the dialog, rather than use the movement to add its own accent to the meaning.

As I mentioned, this is the first time I've dealt with sync dialog, so it's brand new to me. I'm used to "silent movie" acting...or ACTING! as I seem to have discovered. :)

While it is true that animation needs to have clear gestures and exaggerate a little, I think it really is acting in slow motion. So you could apply the sort of exercises that actors do when approaching a scene. What does this character want out of the scene? What is his relationship with the other person in the scene? What is the crux of the scene? This might seem a bit over-detailed, but it might lead you to giving the puppet some gestures that don't just explain the words. For example the parrot scene might work with the complaining customer towering over the shopkeeper, so his relationship is one of dominance. That sort of thing. There's a great book, aimed at directors in live action, called 'Directing Actors' by Judith Weston, which goes into the whole process of interpreting a scene and reaching for the non-obvious.

Here is a great list over at 11 Second Club.

http://www.11secondclub.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=4773

Thanks, Simon and Brandon!

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