I find that animators have as their foundations for their skills a lot of graphic teaching. They learn to draw very well. They learn to mug, and in acting, that’s what we call ‘indicating.’ You indicate an emotion—you make someone look angry, or you make someone cry—and it’s not real, genuine emotion. That’s our big weakness with animators, that we begin to indicate emotions rather than make them convincing or seem real. To give them [the animators] a little leg up, we got very, very talented actors to come in and show us a performance. When you saw the performance, it’s easier to sit the animators in a room, look at the performance, analyze it and say, ‘What’s going on here?’ Once you’ve done that, the understanding comes to the animator and he’s able to articulate it. You find out that all the little gestures that a skilled, trained actor would do mean something, the timing means something. It just may not occur to them to do that because they’re too busy being very broad and over the top with the actions. This isn’t universally true with animators, but mainly, I feel they are not trained actors.
I just really think this rings true. I had to argue with film students who think of acting in animation and how they contribute all of it to the actor. I kept saying animators have to be the actor as well, not just someone who draws.