Snippets from “The Illusion of Life”.

"The Illusion of Life"

Here on this post I’m going to cover some important points from the first few chapters of this AMAZING book By the legends of animation (Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston). Eventhough I think this book should be a part of every animator’s private collection, here are some highlighted (from my book anyway). Hope this will be useful for my fellow rookie animators.

=> It is (Animation) capable of getting inside the heads of the audiences, into their imagination. The audience will make our little cartoon character sad – actually, far sadder than we could ever draw (animate) him – because in their minds that character is real. He lives in their imaginations. Once the audience has become involve with your characters and your story, almost anything is possible.
For a character to be that real, he must have a personality and preferably, an interesting one. Hemust be as comfortable as an old shoe, yet as exciting as a new spring outfit.

=> The most interesting character in the world is not very exciting when sitting and listening to a symphony concert. Our true personalities are the best revealed by our reactions to a chance we did not expect. Take a simple example of a golfer getting ready to make a crucial shot. He shows concentration and determination as he prepares for the important swing. Then, suppose he misses the ball entirely. His true character will be revealed at once! If Donald Duck, he will fly into rage and blame the ball.

=> We want our viewers not merely to enjoy the situation and murmured, “Isn’t he cu-ute?” but realy feel something of what the character is feeling. If we succeed in this, the audience will now care about the character and about what happen to him, and that is audience involvement. Without it, the cartoon character will never hold the attention of its viewers.

=> At Walt’s studio it was different. He insisted on an open athmosphere (in his studio) where each artist shared his views and discoveries. If one man made a drawing Walt liked, he called everyone together to point out. Or if an action seemed clumsy or poorly staged, he would direct the artist immediately to get help from a sronger man.

=> Signs were made to help animators remember what they had learned:

“Don’t confuse them. Keep it simple.”
“Too much action spoils the acting.”
“Mushy action makes mushy statement.”
“Say something. Be brave.”

=> A new jargon was heard around the studio. Words like “aiming” and “overlapping” and “pose to pose” suggested that certain animation procedures gradually had been isolated and named. Verbs turned into nouns overnight, as , for example, when the suggestion, “Why don’t you stretch him out more?” became “Get more stretch on him.” “Wow! Look at the squash on that drawing!” did not mean that a vegetable had splatered the artwork.

=> Fundamental principles of animation:
1. Squash and Stretch.
2. Anticipation.
3. Staging.
4. Straight Ahead Action and Pose to Pose.
5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action.
6. Slow In and Slow Out.
7. Arcs.
8. Secondary Action.
9. Timing.
10. Exaggeration.
11. Solid Drawing.
12. Appeal.

Well… That’s it for now… If you want to read more of this book, just buy it! It’s worth it!


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