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Mobbs - Body Language in Animation
Sophie Mobbs, PhD student

The Meaning and Perception of Body Language as Expressed through Animation.

MASTERS thesis in Research, awarded 2019

This thesis investigates the ways in which acting and character acting may be drawn into computer animation and computer games more critically, and the ways in which acting and movement become blurred within animation.

Animation has a unique ability to focus the meaning of a narrative and to engage the viewer, in subjects that might be otherwise too dry or too sensitive if presented as live action. Yet the meaning of an animation is only as good as the animator can express it. Incorrect or ambiguous body language can distort or subvert the message intended.

Two problems in particular present themselves in connection with animation...

The use of pared-down body and facial forms. A character may have no limbs or facial features, and yet it must still convey its meaning and expression.
At the other end of the scale, photo-realistic 3D animation is often lacking in subtle nuances of expression, causing the viewer to perceive the character as unnerving or undead.

The thesis studies the limitations and perception of animated body language, through animated artifacts, in the hope of working towards a better understanding of the expression of body language for the use of animators.