Free 3D training | Disney’s 12 principles of animation: Appeal
Master Disney’s 12 classic principles of animation in 3D with Steve Lambert’s regular series of articles on the fundamentals of CG. The final topic is appeal
Concluding his series on Disney’s 12 classic principles of animation, Steve Lambert explains how to get your audience to care about your characters.
FOR: Any software | TIME TAKEN: 1 hour | TOPICS COVERED: Appeal | ALSO REQUIRED: Maya (to view scene files)
Download the scene files and animation clips for this training:
Appeal is about creating a character that’s engaging to the audience – one that the audience will sit through until the end for.
It doesn’t require fluffy bunnies or cutesy lambs (gag), and it’s not about the audience ‘liking’ the character.
Even villains and demons need appeal: indeed, often people seem to be drawn to villains more than heroes. If a character lacks appeal, why would you care what happens to them? Why would you endure 96 butt-numbing minutes of unappealing story?
Good conceptual design (as opposed to the principle of solid design) and style have a small part in appeal, but they aren’t everything.
These things are often out of your hands. Unless you’re doing your own project, some director, producer or client decides what your character looks like before you get your mitts anywhere near it. The most important aspect is how you build appeal through performance.
The most interesting people to watch are those with exaggerated features or bizarre wrinkles, not perfectly smooth models. It’s much the same with someone’s mannerisms: quirks and imperfections are what create interest. As with any successful stand-up comedian, they get you to relate to the story, making a link between your feelings and the character’s.
Build a back story, even if it’s a small throwback. Take Peter Pan’s Captain Hook. One of the things that makes him appealing is his fear of ticking clocks, because the crocodile that took his hand also swallowed a clock.
Appeal can also be built up on multiple levels. Pixar has shown this successfully: its work is greatly appreciated by both adults and kids.
The success of your appeal is also the sum of your animation’s parts. Look back through the principles covered in this series. If you want people to understand the quirks and subtleties you’re putting in, you need to use these principles.
Is your squash and stretch enhancing your performance or confusing it? Are you anticipating actions, or are they happening without warning? Do you have solid poses and nice curves? Do you have enough frames to do what you’re trying to do, or is it too much too quick? And is the scene staged well so that all this hard work isn’t lost on anyone? If you have all your ducks in a row, it’s a good start to having appeal.
Remember to download the zip file containing scene files and animation clips to see this principle in action
My videos in the download have our hero cooking his breakfast. Clip01.mov shows that it’s easy to show his basic actions and get the idea across, but it’s not particularly engrossing. What is it about cooking that could hold someone’s interest?
Clip02.mov adds a few details: the extra tap on the egg, the flourish that he uses to add the egg to the frying pan – but more importantly, wiping his hand on his T-shirt. These details are a character imperfection we can relate to.
That’s the end of my series of Disney’s 12 principles of animation. I hope you found them… appealing? Or at least somewhat enlightening. Thanks to John Doublestein for the use of his Andy rig: it’s super-nice to work with. Now go forth and animate something.
Disney’s 12 principles of animation
This tutorial uses the ‘Andy’ rig created by John Doublestein for the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Want to learn more about animation?
(This article was first published in issue 128 of 3D World)
About the author
Steve Lambert has been working in the CG industry since 2001. Currently director of animation at Weta Workshop in New Zealand, his recent feature film work includes Prince Caspian and Avatar
on Friday, July 27th, 2012 at 4:23 pm under Guides, Tutorials.
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Tags: 3D basics, 3D training, Animation, animation tips, appeal, CG principles, Disney’s 12 classic principles of animation, free, Maya, Maya tips, Steve Lambert, Weta Digital