Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The James Baxter class...

Yesterday we met James Baxter! YAY!! When I was shaking hands with him, I said..."Hi! I'm Amrit". Then he said very softly...."Hey, I'm James!" At that moment, I was just looking at his face and thinking..."Okay! Am I dreaming or what? I'm shaking hands with James Baxter!!" It was really an extraordinary feeling which I
simply can't explain in words. I've heard so much about him and now I'm meeting this guy and shaking hands with him.... it was an honor! It was my dream to meet James Baxter one day, but never thought that my dream would ever come true... at least not anytime soon!

He shared some super cool tips and tricks with us and gladly answered all our questions. I wanted to video tape all his lecture ... but I don't wanna break any copyright rules and stuff.... so, just to be on the safer side, I recorded everything in my head.... and this is exactly what Tim Ingersoll (our animation/EMO instructor, a great caricature artists, and a super cool magician!.... this guy is super talented!!) did.

Tim made a cool note on James Baxter's lecture and gave me the permission to post it here on my blog (I've added some of my notes too! Thanks Tim! :) So, here here you go folks.... Enjoy!

James Baxter's Notes (Jul 1, 2008 at DWA, Glendale)

1) Don't have a gesture (pose) for every beat (accent). Choose a few powerful storytelling poses and work within them!

2) Act from the gut, not your head. Who is the character? What does she/he want? think of a character he is like.... animated or real life. For example, Nathan as Chris Farley.

3) The body can be very flexible, loose and stiff. James shows the character pointing in a soft overlap, cartoony way.... or lead with the finger, really aggressively. You don't add overlaps everytime to make it look fully animated.... sometimes you want that character to look angry, aggressive and stiff... so you make him look stiff but be careful with that!! You don't wanna make the pose look stiff! This is the hard part because somewhere you are adding stiffness (in the character) and at the same time you are totally avoiding the ugly, stiff feel. You know, what I mean?

4) On walking, placement of the feet are crucial. Think how he'll get off balance to move and take a step. Which foot is taking the weight?

5) When doing a dialog shot and thinking about the dialog in your head, go with the pace of the dialog! Don't slow down!! For example, if your dialog is: "You know what? I hate you!!" The character is full of anger and disgust... and so, she speaks really fast. When you're going over the dialog and thinking about it in your head, maintain that pace and that feeling and that emotion. Don't slow down...."Aaaaaaaiii.....haaaaaate...... yyyouuuuuuuuuu........" This is somthing which a lot of new animators do when they are thinking about the dialog... they slow down. Not a good idea!

Well, thats it for now! Hope you like it.


Edit: Changed the picture.... some website had problems with it. I don't wanna break any copyright rules.

Edit 2: Check out James Baxter's cool interview on!


Ratul Sarna said...

this is GOLD!!
Awesome stuff.........!!
Thanx a lot for posting this for everyone.
I'm sure you're learning LOADS....
Keep us posted!! :)

Chetan Trivedi said...

put up more stuff dude..
keep rockin

Rajesh Gupta said...

Really helpful tips.
Keep on learning o'boy, we are behind you!

Mahesh Bisht said...

Thanks for this Awesome Notes..!!

Anonymous said...

Hey! Ben here from - we didn't "have a problem" with the use of the James Baxter image, just thought that your readers might want to learn more about him and his participation in Enchanted:

No need to remove this message...all in good faith! Ben, Animated News & Views.

Amrit Derhgawen said...

Hi there Ben,

Thanks a lot for chiming in. That photo of James was really good... in fact, thats how he looks in reality!! Yep.

In your previous post, you wrote that I've pinched (have taken the image unlawfully) the image from your website. I just didn't like the word "pinched". Yes, I should have added a link to your site, which I don't know how, slipped out of my mind. heh.. I don't like stealing things from another website and breaking copyright rules, just to make my blog look pretty... so just to be on the safer side, I removed the image. This image is good too! Right?


Anonymous said...

Yep, any image will do! "Pinched" is a bit of a lighter word here in the UK, so I used it in its "cheeky" harm intended. Just thought a link would be in order, but more for those that might want to read the Baxter piece. Good to see his name pop up on Kung Fu Panda too! All the best, Ben - AN&V. :o)

Amrit Derhgawen said...

Thanks mate! I've updated the post and added a link to that cool interview of James Baxter on your website. ;)


James C Ditmer said...

That would have been amazing to meet an animator such as him! I can't imagine how it must have been to stand next to James Baxter! Thanks for you posts.


DJ said...

excellent post my friend!

congrats on living it all out! enjoy and reap every moment with the God of Animation!