ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.12 - MARCH 2000
Performance And Acting For Animators
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Mary Ann Daniel
Motion-capture and live-action actor
The design of the body, the structure of the body, the emotional context, the colors, everything about the character dictates tome how I should move. One of the most important components is to hear the timing of the voice-track and memorize it. As an actor, I have to go through each line and each inflection because that makes a difference in how the body responds. My background as a dancer, actress and musician informs how I hear the rhythm of the voice-over track and interpret its musicality. It's the same as phrasing in a dance.
A motion-capture actor has to marry what the voice-over talent has done and bring originality to it too. It's as if two actors create one character.
As a motion-capture performer it is helpful for me if the director has both a working knowledge of the actor's process and an understanding of the technical aspects of motion-capture.
Voice-over talent for commercials and animation, including the voice of Garfield the Cat and Carlton the Doorman
There are basically two kinds of voice actors. Frank Welker is one of the prime examples of an actor who has the gift of being able to make many different sounds come out of his face, from machinery to people, to animals. I am the kind who can act many different characters using basically the same voice pattern sound and head tone -- whether it's playing any type of character. My musical ability has had an affect on my voice-over work. I was a folk singer in the `60s. I mostly direct myself unless someone directs me first. A creative director can pull things out of an actor that aren't in the natural read of an actor. Many times directors ask for something that they don't know how to identify. In that case, I try to intuit what they want to end up with. Even if the voice actor and director are not speaking the same language they need to speak the same ideas. There is a very easy way to direct voice-over actors for animation in my opinion. This is what I respond to: rather than giving motivation and history and all kinds of psychology, I say tell me you want it older, younger, faster, slower, smarter, dumber, softer, louder -- just the dualities. Ask for the affect. Don't talk about process. The actor is in charge of process. When it comes to directing a voice -- from my standpoint for a first time director -- let the actor read the piece, and if you want something different, ask for it in terms of dualities as the base. All the action and all the possibilities are within the dualities. If the subtext is not in the text then you can discuss it with the director.
Judy Lieff earned her M.F.A. in dance and experimental film/video from the California Institute of the Arts following a career as a professional dancer. She has performed as an animatronic character in Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and as motion-capture figures for Raven Software and Sony's 989 Studios. Judy has taught "Movement for Animators" at CalArts, New York University, Royer Studios and Pratt Institute amongst others.
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