Recently we began to examine the puppetry and object theatre side of animation.
First we explored movement through manipulation of material, in our case newspaper. We were invited to create movements to evoke the concepts of the following words: mould, float, fly, and radiate. It was novel and interesting to try to suggest these ideas through moving an inanimate piece of material, and I could see connections to other kinds of animation in how certain qualities and moods can be imparted by varying the timing and weight of how something moves.
We then engaged in exercises where we tried to communicate with each other using just this ‘vocabulary’ of actions with the paper. I was surprised by how dialogue-like this turned out to feel, and I think that speaks to how imperative communication is to human beings that such a limited and abstract set of actions can be a means of connection between people, even if not direct communication.
Lastly, we created newspaper puppets as group, and began manipulating those and thinking about what imparts ‘life’ to an inanimate character. The most recognisably lifelike moments were when the puppet was made to seem to consider before acting, or acted as though a thought had just occurred to it, which is something I have read before in animation tutorials and books. It is important for an audience to be able to recognise a character’s thought process, intentions, and emotional state in order to empathise and relate to it.