Read Ed Hooks review of Frozen over at Cartoon Brew.
He says that in our every day lives things are alive, but that's not enough to make it interesting, so recreating an illusion of life of reality is not enough to entertain. We should strive for "theatrical reality".
"Theatrical reality has structure and is selective, showing only the parts of reality that are necessary for telling the story and illuminating character."
Okay I'm on board this far, 'film is reality with the boring bits taken out'.
"There is a widely held misconception among animators that, if they can endow their character with emotion and an illusion of life, that equates to good acting. The fact is that mood is not acting at all, and emotion alone has zero theatrical value. There are sequences in Frozen during which Anna or Elsa is alone and depressed, very sad (see 10:40, end of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”). Those are moments in time, expertly animated, but they are only that. As a character animator, you do not want to hang your acting hat on a moment during which the audience is feeling sorry for your character. Yes, the audience can empathize with a character being sad but, in life, emotion tends to lead to action. The longer the mood and negative behavior persist, the further removed will be the possibility of the audience feeling empathy." I've already written about my thoughts on his emotion leads to action.
Throughout his review Hooks mixes his critique of animation with his critique of the writing, as if one person would have control over both. But okay fine, the pro's can turn a poorly written character good with their acting choices. "Emotion alone has zero theatrical value" is a bit stretched though, I think in order for the audience to suspend desbelief, develop empathy for a character, and be at all engaged then the characters have to have believable living emotions, so even if they aren't advancing the story they are still drawing people in. But I take his point that the goal should be to do both.
"emotional states (ie "I'm confused") are not theatrically valid answers. Acting is doing. If a character is not doing anything to achieve a definable and provable objective, he is not acting. Emotion tends to lead to action."
He says strong acting is action in pursuit of an objective while overcoming an obstacle. "Ideally, an animator should be able to freeze frame a character at any time and ask, “What are you doing?” "
If we freeze frame Anna the moment she calls for her horse, her answer would be: “My objective is to find Elsa; my action is to get on my royal horse and locate her; my obstacle/conflict is with the situation.”
I don't think he's saying it clearly. Maybe something like: it's better to be verbing towards a goal than adjectiving about it. It's better to be intimidating the meter maid instead of being angry about the ticket.
"A scene is a negotiation." each character is pursuing their objective, which may hinder or be in conflict with the other character
I was rewatching Ken Fountain's tutorial.
"Rats" Final Render from Ken Fountain on Vimeo.
Something I caught this time that I didn't pick up the last time was he was talking about when she shifts from internal focus to external focus. (An idea I first heard from Michael Makarewicz) In Fountain's animation the shift happens from when she's snarking at her little brother then she slowly stops paying attention to what she's saying as she gets sucked into watching the rats. Makarewicz had pointed out you can be focused outwardly on the things around you trying to affect them, or internally more aware of what's happening inside. Still hard to really articulate. But here was an visual example.