Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Audience Involvement

At our wedding last Saturday, there were speeches after the dinner and when it was my wife's bridesmaids turn (which was her sister) she were standing up, ready to deliver her speech. Everybody watched her with excitement, wondering what she was about to say.

She started "Dear Kari and Martin....." then suddenly she bursted into tears. She tried to continue, but was unable to get any word out that made any sense. But she kept standing. I looked around and noticed 60 people, fighting their tears with her, including myself, as we all were totally sucked into her emotions and feelings. It was complete silence in the room when suddenly her 2-year old daughter said "You don't have to cry, mommy!". People started to laugh in a kind of mix between laughter and crying. It was so perfectly beautiful. Then she responded to her daughter and in an awesome way used that to get her self back together and continued with her speech.

It was a wonderful moment and definitely one of the highlights of the wedding for me. There are of course lots of moments like that in life, but this one was a pretty strong one and it involved every single person in the room. To me, it was a great first hand experience of what Frank and Ollie calls Audience Involvement in the first chapter of "The Illusion of Life". They say "In our own lives, we find that as we get to know people, we share their experiences - we sympathize, we empathize, we enjoy." Then they talk about radio shows in the early days and how the voices and sounds made you believe and feel: " was not the actor's emotions you were sensing anymore. They were your emotions".

Then they continue: "Fortunately, animation works in the same way. It is capable of getting inside the heads of it's audiences, into their imaginations. The audience will make our little cartoon character sad - actually far sadder than we could ever draw him - because in their minds that character is real. He lives in their imagination. Once the audience had become involved with your character and your story, almost anything is possible." They also talk about what they did to create audience involvement (pg. 18-22 - "The Illusion of Life").

One of my goals, and I know I'm very very far from it, is to be able to create such strong emotions in the audience. My wife's bridesmaid did it very simple - totally unintentionally though, but still - all she did was standing up and kept standing. Hopefully in time, probably years from now, I will be able to generate that kind of emotions with my animation :)

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