Tuesday, January 29, 2008

lessons from the master

laugh more! my baby is always looking for any opportunity to laugh, he starts laughing before he's even decided that there's something to laugh at, that's how I should be. I come home and get him going (or he gets me going), yeah I'm tired, but it doesn't take that much energy to have fun and laugh, and it feels much better. it doesn't take that much energy to have fun and laugh

another butting of heads at work. people who don't listen, aren't going to start. don't let your ego rise up to prove them wrong, they won't listen to see they're wrong, and they'll pick just the words out of a sentence that spells out "you're right" No way to win by playing, only way to win is to divert them ahead of time so don't have to expend energy dealing with them, second to that is let them think they've won as quick as possible so can get back to solving the problem without their "help". and don't let the ego block a viable solution from them, listen, consider, either way "thanks, I'll try that" if it's a real solution try it, if it's not just say it to get rid of them.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

impro: status II

"As the actors moved I could feel imaginary iron filings marking out the force fileds. ... When they weren't acting, the bodies of the actors continually readjusted. As one changed position so all the others altered their postures. Something seemed to flow between them."

"...shut your eyes and let your body feel outwards into the surrounding darkness."

"If I stand two students face to face and about a foot apart they're likely to feel a strong desire to change their body position. If they don't move they'll begin to feel love or hate as their 'space' streams into each other.To prevent these feelings they'll modify their positions until their space flows out relatively unhindered, or they'll move back so that the force isn't so powerful. High-status players will allow their space to flow into other people. Low-status players will avoid letting their space flow into ther people. ... If we wish to humiliate and degrade a low-status person we attack him while refusing to let him switch his space off."

"Imagine a man sitting neutrally and symmetrically on a bench. If he crossis les left leg over his right then you'll see his space flowing over to the right as if his leg was an aerofoil. If he rests his right arm along the back of the bench you'll see his space flowing out more strongly. If he turns his head to the right, practially all his space will be flowing in this same direction. someone who is sitting neutrally in the 'beam' will seem lower-status. Every movement of the body modifies it's space."

'fear-crouch' posture=low-status shoulders lift to protect the jugular and body curls forward to protect the underbelly.
'cherub' posture= high-status opens all the planes of the body, head turns and tilts to offer the neck, the shoulders turn the other way to expose the chest, spine arches slightly backwards and twists so shoulders and hips oppose, exposing the underbelly.High status people often adopt versions of the cerub posture. If they feel under attack they'll abandon it and straighten, but they won't adopt the fear crouch.

"When the highest-status person feels most secure he will be the most relaxed person,"

"Status can also be affected by the shape of the space you are in. The corners of couches are usually high-status, and high-status 'winners' are allowed to take them."

Walking, the more submissive person will get out of the way. Moving someone to the side like I so often do is a high-status move, instead of asking.

"This means that when two improvisers pass on a bare stage it may be possible to say where they are, even though they may not have decided on a location. The class will agree that the actors look as if they're in a hospital corridor, or in a crowded street, or passing on a narrow pavement. We judge this from the distance at which they make the first eye contact, and from the moment that they 'switch off' from each other before passing." "close" is defined by the space, on an empty moor you have to acknowledge someone else when they are within shouting distance, but in a crowded city you can physically brush against someone without interacting.

" Another way of opening people's eyes to the way the body positions assert dominance or submission by controlling space is to ask two people who have established a spatial relationship between themselves to freeze, and let the other students study them. Many students still won't understand, but if you take the two 'statues', lift them, together with their chairs, and place them on the opposite sides of each other, the change is dramatic. Their 'space' which seemed so 'natural' looks weird, and everyone can see how carefully they had adjusted their movements to fit in with each other.
I ask students (for homework!) to watch groups of people in coffee bars, and to notice how everyone's attitude changes when someone leaves or joihns a group. If you watch two people talking, and then wait for one to leave, you can see how the perosn remaining has to alter his posture. He had arranged his movements to relate to his partner's, and now that he's alone he has to change his position in order to express a relationship to the people around him"


"The master-servant scene seems to befunny and entertaining in all cultures -even people who have enver seen a manservant have no difficulty in appreciating the nuances.
The relationship is not necessarily one oin which the servant plays low and the master plays high... The whole point of the master-servant scene is that both partners shold keep see-sawing."

"I teach that a master-servant scene is one in which both parties act as if all the space belonged to the master. (Johnstone's law!) An extreme example would be the eighteenth-century scientist Henry Cavendish, who is reported to have fired any servant he caught sight of!...People who are not literally masters and servants may act out the roles, henpecked husbands and dominant wives for example. The contrasts between the status played between the characters and the status played to the space fascinates the audience.
When the masters are not present, then the servantes can take full possession of the space, sprawl on the furniture, drink the brankdy, and so on...When the master is present, the servant must take care at all times not to dominate the space... You can work for someone without being 'their servant'. A servant's primary function is to elevate the status of the master. Footmen can't lean against the wal, because it's the master's wall. Servants must make no unnecessary noise or movement, because it's the master's air they're intruding on.
The preferred position for a servant is usually at the edge of the master's 'parabola of space' This is so that at any moment the master can confront him and dominate him...When the servant's duties take him into close proximity with the master he must show that he invades the master's space 'unwillingly'. If you have to confront the master in order to adjust his tie you stand back as far as possible, and you may incline your head. If you're helpign with his trousers you probably do it from the side. Crossing in front of the master the servant may 'shrink' a little, and he'll try to keep a distance. Working behind the master, brushing his coat, he can be as close as he likes, and visibly higher, but he mustn't stay out of sight of the master unless his duties require it (or unless he is very low status)
The servant has to be quiet, to move neatly, and not let his arms or legs intrude into the space around him... Other things being equal, the servant should be near a door so that he can be instantly dismissed without having to walk round the master. You can see servants edging surreptitiously into this position."

"Number Four has to keep Number Three happy while avoiding the attention of One or Two. If addressed by One or Two he must avoid any appearance of wanting to usurp THree's position. If the general speaks to a private we should expect the private to keep glancing at the sergeant. If the general lowers the sergeant the private may be secretly delighted by it he'll have to hide it, and at the time he might be expected to find it embarrassing."

"It is the lack of pecking-order that makes most crowd scenes unconvincing. The 'extras' mill about trying to look 'real', and the spaces between them are quite phoney... BY just numbering people in hierarchies so that they knew what status they were, such errosrs could be avoided."

"A good play is one which ingeniously displays and reverese the status between the characters...SHakespear is a great writer even in translation "

" should understand that we are pecking-order animals and that this affects the tiniest details of our behaviour"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Schliefer critique

Schliefer's critique for the 11 secondclub winner

he instantly noticed that the character wasn't breathing, especially with the audio making such huge gasps.

he wanted a slight movement on the head at the frame where the hand contacts it, to show the contact and pull better.

he talked about the fact that a slight eye shift with in 8 frames is enough to feel like thought is occuring. Just a slight change in direction of pupils, and slight change in shape of the brows. Also make sure brows stay connected, if one moves far, the other needs to point to it a little bit so they feel attached by flesh.

breathing, solid touching, thought with eye shifts

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Impro: Status

Finally getting into Impro by Keith Johnstone. Goldmine!

"the man who dances might be superior to myself-word-bound and unable to dance" doing is more alive, more real, then thinking and analyzing

"every inflection and movement implies a status, and that no action is due to chance, or really "'motiveless'"

low status: twitching, unnecessary movements, intruder in the space, apologetic for intruding, easily embarrased, show lot's of throat, jerky movement, toes pointed inwards, touch face and head a lot, nervous

high status: still, smooth movements, still head when talking, owns the space expects to be catered/listened to, less effort you expend the higher you are. slow your movements down, go up in status

audience's enjoy a contrast between the interpersonal status being played, and the social status (a tramp lording it over a duchess)

See-saw, you can change your status by adding to your side "that's my favorite book" or by taking away from their's "I'm surprised you can keep up with it", or the reverse for trying to lower your status

"when we tell people nice things about ourselves this is usually a little like kicking them. People really want to be told things to our discredit in such a way that they don't have to feel sympathy."

"we want people to be very low-status, but we don't want to feel sympathy for them-slaves are always supposed to sing at their work."

jokes are funny because of the status transactions:
"A: Who's that fat noisy old bag?
B: That's my wife.
A: Oh, I'm sorry...
A: You're sorry! How do you think I feel?

"The man who falls on the banana peel is funny only if he loses status, and if we don't have sympathy for him."

"Tragedy also works on the see-saw principle: it's subject is the ousting of a high-status animal from the pack... If he crumbled into low-status posture and voice the audience wouldn't get the necessary catharsis. The effect wouldn't be tragic, but pathetic.
When a very high-status person is wiped out, everyone feels pleasure as they experience the feeling of moving up a step. ... Terrible things can happen to the high-status animal, he can poke his eyes out with his wife's brooch, but he must never look as if he could accept a position lower in the pecking order. He has to be ejected from it."

eye contact describes status: high status makes and keeps it, low status makes it breaks it then glances back to check reaction (so won't hold it)

"the short 'er' is an invitation for people to interrupt you; the long 'er' says 'Don't interrupt me, even though I haven't thought what to say yet.'"

"people have a preferred status; that they like to low, or high, and that they try to manoeuvre themselves into the preferred positions. A person who plays high status is saying 'Don't come near me, I bite.' Someone who plays low status is saying 'Don't bite me, I'm not worth the trouble.' In either case the status played is a defence, and it will usually work."

When reversing status in a scene, it's good to make the change gradually.

"the audience will always be held when a status is being modified."

"it isn't necessary for an actor to achieve the status he's trying to play in order to interest an audience. To see someone trying to be high, and failing, is just as delightful as watching him succeed."

"it's a good idea to introduce a bystander into a status scene with instructions to 'try not to get involved'. If you are a 'customer' in a 'restaurant', and someone at the same table quarrels with the 'waiter', then your very subtle status manoeuverings are a delight to watch."

Knowing your status, you know how you're going to play, and react, and think in a situation.

the things said are not as important as the status played."

"Status is played to anything, objects as well as people. If you enter an empty waiting-room you can play high or low status to the furniture. A king may play low status to a subject, but not to his palace."

an actor doesn't need another actor to play status scenes with, he can do it with anything in the environment. (i.e. low status to a park bench and a flock of pigeon's, looking around to see if the park is private, tentative that the pigeon is dangerous, or it's very majestic, etc.)

A low status can control a high status just as effectively as vice versa. Admitting, accepting everything and apologizing. The more A accepted B's dominance the more powerfully B was deflected, If A makes an error and rises in status, then B closes in, but if the low status is maintained then B has to consciously 'force' his anger. Like a wolf showing throat, no matter how angry the other wolf is it can't attack, just keep showing throat.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Frank and Ollie on character

Frank and Ollie "Too Funny For Words"

"When personalities became this sharply defined, story ideas were needed that gave the characters a chance to do things that revealed who they were and how entertaining they could be."

"Never load up a picture with logic. Grab the audience's interest first, the best way to do that is with laughter."

"when the audience knew more then the pursuing hero about what the villain was doing, suspense and apprehension were created"

"an incident that was basically comic in the first place became hilarious with the addition of emotional tension."

every character should have his own approach to the world and challenges, physically torturing Mickey would not be funny but torturing Donald might, give them obstacles that bring out the entertainment for their personality

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

stopmo armature walk through

Excellent walk through of an armature for stopmo

if link dies. he uses 1/16"th diameter aluminum wire. 4 Strands of wire twisted together for spine and legs (for weight) 2 strands for neck and arms. Molds head, and hands straight on with clay. Pelvis and shoulders are blobs of plumbers epoxy, to lock all the wire together, and to give himself something to grab. Wraps "cloth tape" around upper arm and lower arms and legs to flesh it out some but limit (flexible, but not as much as plain wire) Feet are wooden shoes, wire leg glued in, space cut out of top to hold bolt, hole drilled down through, then wingnut and rest of typical tie down come up from below. Then wrap the whole thing in polyfill (like quilting batting) and cover in cloth. Good to go

triple antic

from Jason Ryan's ramping up newsletter:

if you have a broad action, you'll need a broad antic (15), which in itself is a somewhat broad action, so it'll need an antic (7) which you can ease into with an antic (4)

so you can really loosen things up if you're willing

everyone's got a plan

Moving the pine tree out of the office, obviously dumped a ton of needles. This pack of guys all got to work, and each had their own plan of attack.

Everyone always has a plan, and most plan's are going to work. So why fight to make your plan the accepted one, most of them are going to get to the same place in the end, any energy saved by using your plan is wasted convincing others to use it.

what I learned today

Just a place to put thoughts and useful new (to me) ideas on animation. Like my grandmother used to ask me everyday: "what did you learn today"