Sunday, September 30, 2007

Charlie Chaplin-Modern Times-eating machine scene

This particular clip is interesting in terms of facial gesture and also some of the minor characters explain to Chaplin how to use this machine with only gesture and no speaking which is interesting as well. very funny clip, shows off the versatility of facial gesture to evoke humor and mood.

Charlie Chaplin- Boxing Scene

This is another piece that i felt could sort of be incorporated as successful movements in terms of the choreography involved to influence the humor of the boxing match. Boxing in itself is sort of a dance like presentation of two figures interacting with each other and in this case Chaplins choreography invokes a strong humorous quality to what should be a raging battle between two fighters. Also some very succesful gestures in the referee's motions and the secondary characters in the audience as the rant and rave over the fights actions.

Charlie Chaplin -- Modern Times (1936)

I particulary enjoyed the presentation of gesture and dance that is presented by Chaplin in this piece. Being that we are going to have a presenter who is particularly interested in the art of dance motion as a conveyer of character in story (Margo Apostolos), i think this film provokes and excellent characterized look at how dance and gesture can successfully be interpreted in film. It also serves as a successful way to show how audiences react to Chaplin's motions, although they too are part of the movie.

Harry Langdon in THE STRONG MAN

Harry Langdon in The Strong Man (Langdon had very exaggerated facial expressions that accompany a variety of silent acted postures and gestures that evoke an emotional state or mood very successfully)

Early Gesture Applications in Silent Films

Hey Gang,

Here is a little bit of the research i have been doing in the past few weeks. I have particularly been studying some of the origins of character animation in terms of where characterized movements derived in early cinema and what were some of the influences of the character animators of the past. With the increasing popularity in silent cinema back the in day, many animators found influence from the pioneer actors of silent pantomime films such as Charlie Chaplin and Harry Langdon. Included in this blog i have posted a few clips from some very successful silent Chaplin and Langdon films that show some of the early exaggerated actions and gesture motions that animated artist would frequently reference in terms of telling story or provoking emotions through silent acting. Especially through characters such as Felix who was a walking, talking, cat version of Charlie. The clips prove to be very successful in provoking mood and actions that can be read and interpreted by the audience with little or no sound at all. The clips should be included below this post.....enjoy! :)

Also I included two links that i think are very detailed and interesting to look at. the first one is a blog that happens to be about Gesture in Animation. The second one is an article that discusses gesture and I think Hyun can find some interesting interpretations of gesture and emblems in this articles, just scroll down till you find the particular section. There is alot of information in the second article so just scan through till you can find related topics. Hope these are helpful, informative links for you all.

A Nice Gesture- Art & Animation Blog:

Gesture Article:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Questions for Seminar Panel

We'll be moderating seminar next week (Oct 3). Please post your ideas for questions for the panel in this thread.

If possible, try to structure your questions in a way so that they can invite comments from all members of the panel.

Margo Apostolos Bio

Margo is both a dancer and a roboticist (!). Seems like she will be a really interesting resource for trying to understand how we perceive and interpret gesture.

I found a neat article that she wrote about robots choreography:
Since the article is on JStor for which you need a subscription, you may need to be on campus to access the above link (USC provides free access).

Here's her bio from the USC website:

Dr. Apostolos has authored and presented numerous articles on her research and design in Robot Choreography. In addition to her doctoral and post-doctoral studies at Stanford University, she earned an M.A. in Dance from Northwestern University. She has served as visiting professor in the Department of Psychology at Princeton University and has taught in Chicago, San Francisco, at Stanford University, Southern Illinois University and California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo. A recipient of the prestigious NASA/ASEE Summer Faculty Fellowship, Dr. Apostolos worked for NASA at Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech as a research scientist in the area of space telerobotics. At the Annenberg Center for Communication, Dr. Apostolos conducted research on facial expressions and human-computer interactions. Her work in this area continues in collaboration with the USC neuroscience program. She was named a Southern California Studies Center faculty fellow, where she is surveying theatre and dance in the Southern California region. Currently, Stanford University is providing funding for Dr. Apostolos’ work in the area of “Dance for Sports” in collaboration with the Stanford Athletic Department. This work was presented to the International Olympic Committee in Sydney, Australia, for the 2000 Games and in preparation for the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. Dr. Apostolos developed the Dance Minor program in Theatre, directs the dance concert each semester, and coordinates the Open Gate Dance Program. In 2004, she presented at the Athens IOC meeting on Dance for Sports and at the World Congress of Dance. This past spring, she was instrumental in bringing internationally-renown director/choreographer Mark Morris to campus for a workshop that integrated motion capture technology and robotics with modern dance. Most recently, she co-founded the Cedars-Sinai/USC Dance Medicine Center, a specialized treatment center – the first of its kind in Los Angeles – offering preventive care and treatment specifically designed for professional and recreational dancers.

Maks Naporowski Bio

I think Maks' career is really interesting because he's done character animation, character setup, and also has experience with keyframing over mocap data. He's done a lot of high profile work at Sony, and as a result, I think he's in a really good position to comment on both the technical and artistic sides of 3D animation. Also, if you didn't already know, he teaches both a rigging and a 3D animation course at DADA. He's currently working as a character animator on Beowulf.

Below is a bio that I got from the DADA website:

Born in Kielce, Poland in the seventies, Maksymilian Naporowski studied art, philosophy, and psychology at McMaster University in Canada. In spring of 1996, he graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy, after which he moved on to Sheridan College in Toronto for a summer art program. The following fall semester, he switched to Seneca College, and studied digital animation, focusing on Softimage and Alias/Wavefront's "Power Animator" software. In 1997, he received a teaching position for the same program, teaching digital animation and character setup for two semesters. In 1998, he took a demonstration artist position for a Toronto based company called "Puppet Works".

There with Puppet Works he developed character demonstration content, presentations for visual effects oriented shows such as Siggraph and NAB, and provided training, consultation, and development services for clients. He provided character animation development and training using the PuppetWorks digital input devices for a variety of high profile companies and shows. This included training, character animation, and motion capture tests for the "Duke Nuke'em" title at 3D Realms in Dallas as well as internal 3d character content for Lockheed Martin in Florida. He also trained staff, did character rigging, and created animation tests for "Merlin" and "Lost in Space" at the Jim Henson Creature Shop in the UK, as well as for "Atlantis" at Walt Disney Studios in California. His character animation tests on the "Incredible Mr. Limpet" at Pacific Title/Mirage were with actor-comedian Jim Carrey and on the 1998 spoof comedy "Jane Austen's Mafia!" he produced character rigging, animation, and structured the pipeline for Swansons Production.

In 1999 he moved to Los Angeles to work with incredible artist and director Mark Swanson on a CG feature called "Fish Tank". Within six months they developed the characters in 3d, built a solid character animation/motion capture pipeline, and provided over three minutes of animation tests for the feel and look of the film. When the funding fell through, he moved on to a job at Centropolis FX where he helped develop the motion capture/animation pipeline for "Patriot" and choreographed/animated some of the large battle sequences. After "Patriot" he spent a few months working as a 3d animation consultant for 2G Productions/Elektrashock where he rigged and animated content for a video feature called "You're mine", a music video for No Prisoners called "Fiction, dreams in digital" by Orgy, and a feature film named "Vertical Limit".

In 2000, he took on a cg artist position with Sony Pictures Imageworks and started on "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" as a technical animator, where a majority of his time was spent on the musculature of "Fluffy", the 3-headed dog, the troll, the Centaur, the digital humans- "Harry" and the kids for the "Quidditch" match. For the sequel, he provided both the animation pipeline and support for the animation team. He has been working for Imageworks for over five years and his duties include character setup, pipelines, support, modeling, and character animation. He has taken a lead role on a number of shows and has focussed on character animation in the recent past. His credits at Sony Pictures Imageworks include

Ghost Rider
Superman Returns
Polar Express
Matrix Revolutions
Haunted Mansion
Bad Boys 2
Charlie's Angels 2
The Chubbchubbs ! - Oscar Winner for best Animated Short Film
Stuart Little 2 - VES Award for best character animation in an Animated Motion Picture
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

In addition to the production work, in recent years he has been teaching character rigging and animation in Maya at the University Of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.

Andreas Dejas Bio

Andreas Dejas is one of the main 2D character animators at Disney. I believe he studied under the Nine Old Men, and I think it'll be interesting to get his take on some of the recent technological developments in animation since he's almost exclusively a 2D artist.

His Wikipedia page is pretty informative and I'd recommend checking out this interview and this other interview as well.

emblems- example

Ice Age
(click here)

Monday, September 24, 2007


I think I can begin from sculpture.This is an example of gesture that is stiff and humble.I can feel tense from the gesture.
The premier sculpture is 兵馬俑(bing ma yong) .It's wood or clay figures of warriors and horses buried with the dead.They show serious emotion.Most of gesture is tighter and manners.Because they are ready to fight.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Wikipedia says,

The words emblem and symbol often appear interchangeably in day-to-day conversation without causing undue confusion. A distinction between the two may seem unnecessarily fastidious. Nevertheless, an emblem is a pattern that is used to represent an idea, or an individual. An emblem crystallizes in concrete, visual terms some abstraction: a deity, a tribe or nation, a virtue or a vice. An emblem is an object or a representation of an object.

Emblem gesture presents message. We get emblems by learning. Like we have hard time to read the original Shakespeare's play because of the old words, our everyday words are slowly changing. Because of that, people can get different emblems by their culture, generation, and so on. So it's not easy to find understandable emblems to everyone in the world.

examples of emblems;

More on Gesture and the Brain: The Mind's Big Bang

I watched the second video that Kathy recommended to us.

A quick summary:
According to the video, although modern humans evolved 100,000 years ago, starting about 50,000 years ago there were dramatic changes in the technology and culture of humans that eventually led to our dominance of the planet. The video links the "Mind's Big Bang" to man's tendency towards increasingly complex communication and social interaction strategies. Thus, this period witnessed the birth of art and culture, including primitive beads and cave painting.

One of the examples that the video puts forth is the case of deaf children in Managua, Nicaragua. These children spontaneously came up with a complex series of gestures to communicate with each other. The children also resisted attempts to make them learn ASL.

More details can be found at:

The development is pretty remarkable and it's relevant to our research because it establishes that gesture is not necessarily only a secondary element of communication (after speech), but can take over the entire function of transmitting information among individuals in complex interactions. In turn, this observation reinforces the widespread animation practice of animating poses and body movement first, before moving on to facial expressions, as well the importance of silhouettes. Also, the video talks about "meems" or cultural transmission through imitation, and it appears that the Nicaraguan Sign Language is an example of this phenomenon. Consequently, one would expect that there is a strong culturally-specific aspect to gestures. In support of this notion, there's other cases where similar micro-languages based on gesture have arisen:

Interesting essay on Motion Capture

Although we're not looking at mocap in detail yet, we should do so at some point in the semester. I found this really good survey essay on mocap that talks about the tension between mocap and other forms of animation.

The article is written by Maureen Furniss, who teaches at USC, so she'd be a good resource for any questions:

I liked this passage because it links animation and dance, and we're looking at both those areas too:
"From this perspective, we might see the animator's work as a form of visual 'notation'. That is how Lisa Marie Naugle describes motion capture in terms of her dance performance work. Notation, as I use the term here, generally refers to a recording of movement in print form, so that it might be preserved, studied, and perhaps re-enacted at some future time. Ethnographic researchers can use notation, for example, to record ceremonial dances that are on the verge of 'extinction' because the people who perform it are becoming integrated into another culture. One of the best known forms of dance notation is called the Laban dance notation system (actually a software program called 'LabanWriter' can be integrated into the motion capture process). Naugle compares Laban and motion capture, as two forms of notation, with the use of video and film recording. She explains that the benefits of using motion capture over other sorts of notation are that it allows analysis from any point of view and that it can be visualized in 3D form. She explains, "Looking at dance images from different locations and perspectives, notators, choreographers and dancers can create annotations or list notes about the work. . . . While video may be used repeatedly to extract information about color, motion, and, to a limited extent, depth, it is often lacking in detail or definition. Even if the video has been edited from several different perspectives, the medium does not allow for a full exploration of movement in three dimensions."24

Saturday, September 22, 2007


What I want to research is to focus on gesture in old painting and sculpture.Before animation coming out,people also can show movement and emotion in the painting.In different culture, people have habitual gesture to show often.Maybe I can research 1. "the same gesture show different emotion" or "the same emotion show different gesture" in the old painting and sculpture. culture affect gesture to show character. 3. present the gesture in different type of art before animation coming out in old painting.Will it work?I am not sure if it worth to do the research?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gesture types

Gestures, the movement of arms and hands, are different from other body language in that they tend to have a far greater association with speech and language. Whilst the rest of the body indicates more general emotional state, gestures can have specific linguistic content.

Gestures have three phases: preparation, stroke and retraction. The real message is in the stroke, whilst the preparation and retraction elements consist of moving the arms to and from the rest position, to and from the start and end of the stroke.


Emblems are specific gestures with specific meaning that are consciously used and consciously understood. They are used as substitutes for words and are close to sign language than everyday body language.

For example, holding up the hand with all fingers closed in except the index and second finger, which are spread apart, can mean 'V for victory' or 'peace' (if the palm is away from the body) or a rather rude dismissal if the palm is towards the body.

Iconic gestures

Iconic gestures or illustrators are closely related to speech, illustrating what is being said, painting with the hands, for example when a person illustrates a physical item by using the hands to show how big or small it is. Iconic gestures are different from other gestures in that they are used to show physical, concrete items.

Iconic gestures are useful as they add detail to the mental image that the person is trying convey. They also show the first person or second person viewpoint that the person is taking.

The timing of iconic gestures in synchronization with speech can show you whether they are unconscious or are being deliberately added for conscious effect. In an unconscious usage, the preparation for the gesture will start before the words are said, whilst in conscious usage there is a small lag between words and gesture (which can make the speaker appear manipulative).

Metaphoric gestures

When using metaphoric gestures, a concept is being explained. Gestures are in three-dimensional space and are used to shape and idea being explained, either with specific shapes such as finger pinches and physical shaping, or more general waving of hands that symbolizes the complexity of what is being explained.


Regulators are used to control turn-taking in conversation, for example in the way that as a person completes what they are saying, they may drop their arms, whilst a person wanting to speak may raise an arm as if to grasp the way forward.

Affect displays

Gestures can also be used to display emotion, from tightening of a fist to the many forms of self-touching and holding the self. Covering or rubbing eyes, ears or mouth can say 'I do not want to see/hear/say this'. Holding hands or the whole body can indicate anxiety as the person literally holds themself. Self-preening can show a desire to be liked and can indicate desire of another.

Beat gestures

Beat gestures are just that, rhythmic beating of a finger, hand or arm. They can be as short as a single beat or as long as needed to make a particular point.

Beating and repetition plays to primitive feelings of basic patterning, and can vary in sense according to the context. A beat is a staccato strike that creates emphasis and grabs attention. A short and single beat can mark an important point in a conversation, whilst repeated beats can hammer home a critical concept.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

What is Gesture?

The term 'gesture' itself is pretty loaded, and there are a wide variety of definitions that I've seen. For our purposes, however, perhaps it's more interesting to look at the different types of gestures.

This paper - - has a taxonomy that might prove useful. According to the paper, gestures can be classified according in a tree-like structure. We're mainly interested in Communicative gestures, and here's my paraphrasing of what the article says:
1. Mimetic gestures mimic an action e.g. dribbling a ball
2. Deictic gestures e.g pointing to something within a space
3. Referential gestures refer to the environment e.g. a circular motion that describes a steering wheel
4. Modalizing gestures change the meaning of what's being said e.g. a shrug of the shoulders

I'm not sure as to how exactly this will tie into our work, but I think it's important to have this sort of definition/classification as a guide throughout the semester. In addition, I think we could potentially do some simple animation to illustrate these types of gestures.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Links to other DADA research blogs

Sept 5th – Visualizing Science and Visual Effects
Sepehr Dehpour - Team Captain
Melissa Fontanini
Chao-Tung Huang
Wyatt Poist
Elizabeth Ryan

Sept 12th – Documentary and Animation
Renae Radford - Team captain
Ryan Lovelace
Alan Kininsberg
Melissa Bouwman
Mike Robinson

Sept 19 - Visualizing Science - Art & Science
Joe Micallef – Team Captain
Jacob Albers
Dave Horowitz
Rie Takayama
Qingyuan Wang

Sept 26th – Visual Effects, Stereoscopic and perception
Amanda Tasse – Team Captain
Laura Yilmaz
Michael Fallik
Aaron Biscombe
John Helton

October 3rd – Character Animation and performance, gesture kinetics, dance
Arjun Rihan – Team Captain
Hyunjung Rhee
Chia-Chi Tseng
Tim Garbutt
Ryan Chen

October 10th – Facial gesture, emotional resonance through animation and cinema
Deborah Allison – Team Captain
Dave Damant
Steven Day
Diana Reichenbach
Gabriel Soto Campa

October 17th Consciousness and sound
Jan Pfenniger – Team Captain
Malak Quota
Ying-Jing Wang
Brian Lee
John Arellano

October 24th – Death, time and animation
Sean Cox – Team Captain
Pooya Ghobadpour
Paul Shepherd
Shinobu Ochi
Brittany Biggs

November 7th – Fine Art, cinema and The Virtual Window
Joanna Griebel – Team Captain
Nahomi Maki
Colin McCall
Bethany Sparks
Wen Huang

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Gesture and the Brain

Here's some links I found that we can investigate further:

Some of this research talks about the similarities and differences between language and gesture, which is also related to the videos that Kathy would like us to watch. One of the articles also talks about gesture and culture using a neurological approach.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Games, interactivity, and automated character animation

Placeholder for Ryan's research on games and our responses/feedback.