The FMX 2016 theme was “blending realities” and focused specifically on virtual reality. There were some really great conferences about animation, notably about tomorrow’s tools and techniques to animate in a more efficient way.
The part of the conferences that really stood out for me was the acting for animators master class, led by Ed Hooks, a well known acting teacher for animators and actors alike.
I was fortunate enough to watch the second part of this workshop (you can read all about the first part in last year’s article).
He explained different important elements about animation in detail, but he concluded with how we are naturally drawn to empathize with the characters and how important it is to tell a compelling story.
Charlie Chaplin was such a good storyteller because we could really empathize with the characters he portrayed. Ed used Chaplin’s famous, “The foot stuck in the bucket” to highlight this. Having the foot stuck in the bucket was not the real gag. The real gag was trying to remove it and preserve some dignity because we, the viewers, were in this embarrassing situation with the character.
That’s where Ed made the connection with virtual reality and the conflict: we can’t really empathize with characters in VR.
In VR, the viewer is also part of the show so he is too close to the protagonist to be able to empathize with him. The viewer needs a real physical distance from the protagonist.
I thought this raised an important point because it means that we have to adapt the way we narrate a story in VR if we want it to be compelling.
Blending realities has never been so close but a question still remains: how can we distance ourselves from the narration if we are part of it? That’s one of tomorrow’s challenges.