Ken Fountain Critiques Christoffer Andersen Animation – The Winner of the last SplineBomb.com animation Competition
Competition guidelines were:
Animate a character in a specific emotional state of Joy. When trying to covey the emotion of JOY I encourage you to show what the joy is caused by or who that joy is directed toward. This will help give a very specific feeling to this broad emotion and make it easier for your audience to recognize
Thanks everyone for the great entries. You all really interpreted the idea of Joy really well. In fact, it was a little hard to narrow it down, which is why I’ve chosen 2 people as a tie for 3rd place. That’s a good problem to have smile emoticon
So here are the entries I have chosen as the winner of this months competition. I’ll explain what I liked about each, as well as what might be done to improve them. The common qualities they all have are that they have well animated mechanics and a good feeling of polish, they each have simple, clear and readable acting beats, and they all make me feel enough empathy for the character to understand their particular feeling of Joy (although I think each could push it a bit further. I’ll explain below.)
First Place – Christoffer Andersen!
Both the situation and the emotional beats are super clear in this scene. I can see here notice the flower, wonder then imagine where it may have come from, realize where it came from, and then experience joy as a result of that realization. The ease with which I am able to follow that story is a result of very clear posing, simple but insightful rhythms, and very readable and relatable facial expressions. The only complaint I may have (and this is common in all of the winners) is that I would have like more frames at the end of the shot to see that joy grow and evolve – see the smile grow (and maybe seal), the cheeks swell, the eyes light up, squint and sparkle. If I were advising how to get this shot looking it’s best for a demo reel, I would first suggest that Christoffer should add at least 24 to 36 frames at the end to really milk the moment for all it is worth. Could each of the emotional beats be pushed a bit? Yes. But all in all a really well executed animation. Nicely done, Mr. Andersen! I look forward to talking about it more during your critique smile emoticon
Second Place – Sigmund Payne!
The success of this shot is also a result of really simple and clear story beats. The broad changes in body attitude are really effective in communicating the emotional journey of this card-playing character, and the well executed snappy mechanics and cartoony nuances are really well done. So often we animators try to do too much, and a lot of the extra movement we accidentally or intentionally include becomes confusing and distracting – taking away from the emotional impact and making your character’s story less clear. Sigmund has made really nice posing and facial choices here, and executed it with a nice comic style. Much like Christoffer’s, I would have chosen to add more frames on the end to really watch the character’s pleasure grow – possibly in to something more self-congratulatory (a conceited squint, a sealed-lipped kind of smug smile)(and then back to a sincere joy again, maybe.) But, as it is, there is just enough there to read and believe this character’s sense of Joy. Nice job, Sigmund!
Third Place – David Davoli and Paul Oliver!
Both David’s and Paul’s scenes had easy to follow stories, with clear body attitudes and strong, readable facial expressions (albeit, David’s is more subtle). I think they are both really well executed. Paul’s shot of the escaping convict, has some nice mechanics and clear motivations (with a little extra comic “umph!” in there). David’s, while being a bit more underplayed, has an instantly readable story, and a nice sincerity and simplicity that makes it easy for an audience to relate. For David, I would have given her much more time to lean back against the door to let the joy grow in that nice dreamy state (maybe have her eyes blink and look upward in to her imagination, see some visible changes in her breathing pattern), and spent a bit less time on the celebratory jumping. We loose track of her face, and as a result loose track of her joy. Simplifying the celebratory jump would have allowed you to stay connected with the audience, and giving you an easier time with the mechanics (the jumping lacks a bit of weight.) Paul’s performance beats and mechanics are nicely done and very entertaining. I would only argue that he maybe tried to do a bit too much. So much movement, especially movement that takes his face away from the camera, disconnects your audience. If emotional empathy is your goal, then allowing us to see his face will help us follow the thought in his eyes, and really feel what he is feeling. But that smile! Really nicely pushed. Very small critiques on a couple of nice pieces of animation. Congrats, boys!
Thanks again for everyone who participated. You all are really starting to get the idea of this contest. All of the submissions were right on the mark, were very strong, and it was really fun to play through them and take the challenge of judging them. Right on.
Until next time! Animate on!