Roberto Benigni

Roberto Benigni is one of my favorite film makers.  Like many great comedians he is at his best directing and acting in his own films.  In 1999 his tragicomic film, Life is Beautiful earned him an Oscar for best actor, and a nomination as best director.  I will never forget his reaction to winning, when he was the first and only winner to literally jump to the top of the seats as shown in this clip.

On IMDB, he is credited with this quote about Charlie Chaplin:

Charlie Chaplin used his ass better than any other actor. In all his films his ass is practically the protagonist. For a comic, the ass has incredible importance.

I love his verbal delivery and energy. If you were to read them as text, think how much would be lost from listening to him. Here are two interviews with him for you to learn from.

In Praise of Funny Voices

For many years my focus has been on visual and physical comedy, like that found in old silent movies.  But recently I learned a good lesson about the value of voice in a character.

One evening I went to the Circus Center in San Francisco, to watch a performance of students in their Clown Conservatory.   It is interesting to watch novice comedians, because it is such a contrast to professionals.  The pros have done their acts perhaps thousands of times.  They have everything down, and proceed with a natural ease.  The students are clearly working hard.  In that regard, none of the students stood out.  But one of them did snag my attention.  It was because of her voice.  Her voice was a little funny.  I hardly recall what she said, but the unusual quality along with her delivery and timing helped to separate her from the group.

Here is a little piece of trivia I tell my students who are choosing a clip of dialog to animate to:  the word “personality” comes from “persona”.  The root words are “per” which means through and “sona”  which means sound.  Personality comes through the sound of the character.

For animators involved in dialog exercises, like 10/11 second club stuff, I would recommend putting some serious thought into the voices, perhaps even more than what is being said.  Many dialog exercises use clips from movies, featuring regular actors with regular voices.  It would be worth finding some voices with real character.  We all have to admit that Mel Blanc was a major contributor to the success of Looney Tunes.


Wild Lines: The Art of Voice Acting by CarlStallingEnthusiast

Disney Acting Reference for Alice in Wonderland

Here is fantastic bit of acting reference from the production of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, featuring the greats Ed Wynn, and Jerry Colonna.  More evidence of what great comedic actors can bring to animated charaters.  Look at this reference, and compare it to the recording booth videos of big name stars we see today.   These men get in costume and use their full talents.  The Youtube title says they used the actual audio from the reference.

The poster image for the clip shows a split screen comparison of Jerry Colonna and the March Hare.  I notice they followed the basic hand gesture he used, but changed their relative position in order to get a better silhouette.

 

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