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Film is about thinking

May 10, 2007

Gabriel Byrne was the first person I heard say “Theater is about dialog, but film is about thinking.”

The only way you can connect with someone acting on the stage is through either dialog or strong body language.  In film the camera can get very close, uncomfortably close.  We can witness the thought process, and this is what gives film it’s edge in characterization.  We always want to find a way to reveal that the gears inside a character’s head are turning.

One of the clearest moments of thinking is when a characters emotion changes.  Never turn your character away from the camera or hide their face on an emotional change.

Glen Keane pointed out a big problem that is endemic to animation.  When a character is surprised, we all too often throw a big take in between the two emotions.  This big action is actually hiding the emotional change.  Often it’s better to allow the character to change emotions, and then pop them into a take, almost as a secondary reaction.

Look for opportunities to show your character thinking or changing emotions, and play those choice moments up. If you do, your character will transcend the 3D medium and become something the audience can empathize with.

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