Animated Performance – Dialogue Module


In this module we explored the role dialogue plays in character animation. How the relationship and interaction between characters and how their reactions, thoughts and emotion displayed in their body language and facial expressions play off one another when dialogue is used. We looked into how tone, pitch and the pace of the voice can be used to convey particular emotions and nuances. We also explored methods of lip syncing and had to produce animations using dialogue with more than one character.

To help prepare myself for the requirements of this module I looked into the work of Paul Ekman on universal facial expressions and his work on micro expressions. I found Mark Simons book Facial Expressions: A Visual Reference for Artists incredibly helpful for this module. Glued to my hand for a good part of this module was Acting for Animators: A Complete Guide to Performance Animation by Ed Hooks, an amazingly useful book on performance that details how stage performance differs to animated performance and how the animator can apply stage performance principals to their work.

I found watching silent movies very helpful throughout this module, such as Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp and Laurel and Hardy’s movies. I also enjoyed watching black and white movies as I found the performances to be much stronger and dynamic than colour movies. The lack of colour to convey certain emotions means the actors had to put so much more feeling into their performances. I particularly enjoyed watching Arsenic and Old Lace and Some Like It Hot. somelikeithot

I also looked at tv shows The Young Ones, Only Fools and HorsesFawlty Towers and the Carry on movies for inspiration.

The exercises for this module are as follows:

Exercise 1: 
Taking a short piece of film dialogue of our choosing, we were to thumbnail the body language of the characters. Our character designs were to be simple as we were not getting marked on this, we were only marked on the performance itself and the animation was to be in line-test format only. I used dialogue by the character The Wolf from the movie Pulp Fiction.

Exercise 2: 

Was broken up into 2 parts. Part A was just a sketchbook exercise, thumb-nailing and storyboarding twin characters from any age group who both want the same object. We had to show clearly their different personalities and how that would affect how each would react to the situation.  Part B, we created a conversation piece using our characters from part A. We were to consider the staging of the scene and the shift of the focus between the two characters and to consider how the non-speaking character responds to the speaking character. Again, this was in line-test format only. I used dialogue from Jeeves and Wooster  season 4, episode 4- Arrested in a Nightclub.

Exercise 3:

For our final exercise we were to consider how a character would struggle to maintain a lie during a conversation or how they might be hiding something from the other character. We focused on subtext and how different forces would have different effects on the characters actions eg. a desire to be liked or to get their own way or concealing their feelings, fearing embarrassment. I’m a huge fan of the tv series Westworld as everyone at Uni will know by now, I’m always finding away to sneak it into a conversation. I love the huge focus the show has on character and character progression. I chose dialogue from season 1, episode 4. I used the setting of a makeup parlour for this exercise as I thought the contrast of the relaxing environment with the menacing undertone of one of the characters was very interesting and only added to the threat that character is making. In line-test format our animation was to be between 10-30 seconds with a lip sync lasting 3-6 seconds. I love doing lip syncs, I just find it such a rewarding process. In my free time, I’m going to go back and lip sync the final part of this dialogue.


Additional Exercise:
We had the option of doing an additional exercise which was to create a line-test and lip sync of a head saying hello and have the head progress across the screen in some way. My good friend Laura was kind enough to lend me her lovely voice for this.

Thanks for watching!
Yahni 🙂