I have been taking a class for the past 5 weeks called "Acting for Animators". It is quite a useul addition to the R.I.T. animation curriculum. Today we reviewed an assignment. We were all supposed to take 24 pictures of ourselves performing different emotions. Twelve of those were to be close ups on the face and the rest were to be full body poses. Most of my classmates (self included) have grown up in an age of animations where it is more impressive to be able to pull off subtle acting in a character. Therefore most of our own emotions were an attempt at subtle. Many faces were very readable: happy, sad, angry, surprised. But there were a few emotions that repeatedly got muddled up together: disgust, jealousy, confusion. One picture got all of these responses from the rest of the class.
It is my belief that my responsibility as an animator is to be clear with my acting so that every emotion reads to the audience. If some people in the audience are reading "confused" and others are reading "disgusted" and I was intending embarrassment, then I fail. I unfortunately don't have the right to say "well im sorry you didn't get it but the character was embarrassed". That is not an option. The audience has to understand what the character is feeling if they are going to care for he/she, and so therefore sometimes sacrificing subtle to add a broad stereotypical action ain't such a bad thing now is it? I was surprised after much reflection on how some of my favorite animated films do great subtle work when appropriate, but then give you some over the top emotions to really drive it home. Now I will keep that in mind the next time I get a critique that says "This isn't working for me"