In this blog we will talk about the importance of facial expressions in animation and why animators should do facial expressions first.
One Face so many Emotions.
Different emotions have different facial expressions.
Facial Expressions conveys our emotions.
Emotions like sad, happy, angry, confused can easily be expressed without voice-over or dialogues.
Thanks to the tremendous growth of digital media we have evidenced many animated feature films as well as short films till now.
Animated character with facial expressions looks more close to real life character.
Why Facial Expressions Needed
So if you ask why animated character needs facial expressions?
The answer would be because facial expression puts life into the character.
Animated character has the same role as the real actor has in a live-action movie.
Facial Expressions of animated character highlights the feelings and mood of the animated content.
Both in 2D and 3D animations faces are drawn with great care by the animators.
If an animator fails to animate a face properly then the character will look like lifeless and dull.
In 3D animation faces are modeled in three dimensional platforms.
A 3D face looks more realistic and loaded with details like wrinkles, marks etc.
The way to select the right expression for the character is to first break down the shots.
Analyse the shot first, what is happening inside the shot? How the character is going to react about the incident?
How the emotion changes and so on.
The animator follows the breakdown of the facial actions according to the mood.
Bringing out the right facial emotion is the task of a skilled animator and thus sketching is the indispensable part of animation.
Stretch And Squash Principle
Human face is made up of many complex muscles and we stretch and squash our facial muscles to depict certain emotion.
Squash is contraction of muscles and stretch is extension of muscles.
Animators use this stretch and squash principle to bring out character’s expression.
The above picture shows the example of stretch and squash expressions.
In case of stretch both the upper and the lower part of the face stretches a lot while in case of squash upper and lower part of the face comes in squashed position to express laugh.
At the time of facial animation, artist keeps this principle in mind.
You can find the example of stretch and squash in Tom and Jerry show.
In the above image Tom’s face is lit up with impish glee.
Similarly you can find many such examples of stretch and squash in animated cartoon movies.
Working On Eyes
Eyes are very delicate part in the face to animate.
In the above picture we can see how eyes and eyebrows with different emotions look like.
An eye reflects every emotion and thoughts of a character.
Properly animated or crafted eyelids and eyeballs are main parts to prepare good expressions in animation.
Characteristics of a character should be in mind before animating its eyelids.
Eye animation is tricky business and one should remember that only camera view matters in this area.
The eyes should look focussed from the camera view.
The animator knows that iris remains at parallel position when focussed at far away object whereas iris remains at crossed-eyed position when focuses on something much closer object.
Sometimes animators need to adjust the eyes separately according to the movement of the main target.
Eye darts can be done easily in animation.
Eye darts are rapid movement of the pupils and it helps to create mood and expressions.
Frequent eye movement signifies nervousness or excitement and rare eye movement means anger or seriousness.
Hence before designing eye movement animators should become sure about the character’s emotions and thoughts.
Facial Expressions of a character makes impact upon the audiences when animator follows the basic rules and tips on facial animation.
Duration Of Facial Expressions
We know that face reflects the thought of the mind and every facial reaction has its own time and space.
Expressions do not changes suddenly they need some thinking time.
Change of mood needs time to justify the required facial expressions.
For example when our mood changes from happy to sad our facial expression changes with time and in case of animated movie animator uses dialogues, music or narration to maintain the time gap between the changes of facial expressions for better output.
How long the character will hold the facial expression is something depends upon the thinking time of the character.
Animator has to give thinking time to its character for the change in expression.
Change in emotion cannot be conveyed through single shot it needs few series of shots.
For example if a character is sad and walking down the lane and suddenly he notices his old buddy who triggers funny childhood memories and he becomes happy; there need to be some time during which character notices his friend and creates his feelings.
If a character moves from one emotion to another without thinking time the acting or scene will look abstract.
The overall facial expression does not require highly detailed animation rigs; it needs very rudimentary character design and simple rigs.
Facial Expressions is all about presentation and timing.
Dialogues are important part of facial expressions.
An Animated character cannot deliver happy news with a sad expression.
Breakdown of the phonetics via software takes place during animation.
Animator matches the actual mouth movement with the pronunciations of the words; he/she works on the jaw movements especially how the jaw opens and closes.
Phonetics lip chart comes to a great help for dialogue animation process.
Mouth Animation is essential part of under facial expression.
Shape of mouth goes on changing from one form to another depending upon the facial expressions.
The above picture shows various shapes of mouth according to the mood of the person.
Shape of mouth changes in case of happy, anger and sad.
Why Facial Expressions Needed