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Digital Acting

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Know Your Characters

The foundation of good acting is understanding who your character is and what makes it tick. If you truly know your character, you will innately know how and when the character will move and react to the world. Understanding a character can be a long and involved process, and actors use many techniques to accomplish this. The first thing you need to do is answer a few simple questions about the character.

To answer these questions, you can create a simple character description. Many times the writer will do this as part of writing process. If you are animating a one-shot character in a commercial, however, you may have to come up with your own description.

A character description is a paragraph or less, and it simply goes over the basics of the character—usually just the important things, such as age, sex, and personality. Here are two character descriptions for "Karen & Kirby," a series of interstitials that I produced for Warner Bros.

Figure 1 Karen Jones.

KAREN JONES: Karen is 9 years old and the second most popular girl in school. She's high-maintenance and used to having things her way, the easy way. This is not to say that she's spoiled. Karen is very likeable, and absolutely everyone likes Karen. Because of this, things just naturally tend to go her way. She looks to Kirby as a brother and a trusted companion. Karen lives with her dad in a low-slung suburban bungalow that's quite stylish and very neat.

Figure 2 Kirby Derwood.

KIRBY DERWOOD: Kirby is 10 years old and the second most unpopular kid in school. Clever and intelligent, he takes great delight in creating very complex solutions to very simple problems, which causes things to blow up in his face. Kirby is a bit of a neurotic—if things don't go as planned, he tends to freak out. This happens a lot. Kirby lives with his dad in a small airstream trailer parked in Karen's backyard that's very cramped and somewhat messy.
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