Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Eyes Have It

Kevin Koch writes:

I’ve been thinking a lot about eyes and eye movements, probably because I’ve done a lot of close-up acting shots on Terra, and some of the characters have HUGE eyes. I’ve found that some of the ‘rules’ and clichés I’ve been taught about how to do eye movements don’t really hold up, or don’t go far enough. In particular, I’ve been spending time really watching people’s eyes, and looking closely at what actors do with their eyes, and looking at some good reference ...

The 1930’s and early 1940’s were probably the key period when animator’s systematically figured out the major principles of animation (only a small subset of which are summarized in the famous 12 Principles of The Illusion of Life). A lot of what was figured out then related to acting, and to the use of eye direction, blinks, eye movements, and so on to convey thought and feeling. It’s these areas that I want to explore here, without necessarily accepting what’s been written in animation books or what gets passed on from animator to animator. I think the usual rules pertaining to eye’s and blinks and saccades are generally fine for hand-drawn animation, but this is one area where CG animation can, and should, go further.

That said, one rule that we hear again and again is that the audience pays particular attention to the eyes of our characters. This is most certainly true, probably more true than many of us keep in mind ...


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