Nancy Beiman has an impressive animation pedigree, having worked at six major studios. She’s also a professor at Sheridan College in Oakville, Canada. And it’s this combination of experience, insider knowledge and teaching ability that made Animated Performance – her 1998 instructional manual – a must-read for animation students.
This second edition is newly revised, updated and extended, but the central premise remains. Beiman asks you to consider how to ‘get a performance’ out of your characters, seeing the skill of the animator as ‘an actor with a pencil’. Your aim should not be to replicate live action, but to enable your characters to creatively transcend the confines of the physical world to enhance the audience’s enjoyment.
It’s the starting gun for a series of lessons in character movement, beginning with the classic bouncing ball and pendulum exercises, before moving through the concepts of line of action, silhouettes, anticipation, squash and stretch. Sprinkled with a lifetime’s worth of tips from Hollywood mentors, and including 38 drawing exercises, this 240-page book feels like the teacher you wish you’d had at animation school.