The actor in an animation is the character on the screen, but it is the animator who must endow the character with the illusion of life.

To do this, the animator must understand the connections between thinking, emotion and physical action, which are the building blocks of human behavior. Ed Hooks pioneered acting training specifically for animators (as opposed to stage and movie actors), and his Acting for Animators masterclass has been presented to tens of thousands of animators around the world.

Why "special" acting training for animators?

Animators do not need to work on sensory exercises, physical relaxation, emotional recall or voice development, all essential for stage actors acting “in the present moment.” Animators must create an illusion of a present moment – 24 frames = 1 second. To envision and create this illusion requires an entirely different set of skills (see video).


The masterclass is generally presented in a one-day, 10am-5pm, format. A two-day format is available on request.


Because Acting for Animators is different from the kind of class taken by stage actors, there is no limit on the number of students. It has been presented successfully to groups as small as six and as large as eight hundred.


Acting for Animators is emphatically low tech. There is no PowerPoint and, generally, no need for microphones. Each person in the room must be able to see and hear everything, so the technical requirements vary by the size of the group. For most classes, the only firm necessities are: a white board or suitable writing surface; a DVD player that can play Zone One (USA) discs; a Windows PC; space sufficient for two-person improvisations with clear sight lines. Return to top...


For the animator who wants intensive personal feedback or guidance on story, script or performance, Ed Hooks is available via Skype for one-to-one coaching. The cost is US$110 per hour, or US$400 for five hours. Payment accepted via Pay Pal.


Acting defined – an historical and practical overview.

Essential principles of acting theory

“Thinking tends to lead to conclusions; emotion tends to lead to action” – lecture/discussion defining the relationship between thinking, emotion and physical action.

“Theatrical reality is not the same as regular reality” – lecture/discussion on the difference between the reality we all experience every day "on the street" and theatrical reality, which is compressed in time and space for storytelling and has a form and structure missing from everyday life.

“The audience empathizes with the character’s emotions” – lecture/discussion regarding the aesthetic differences between feature animation and video games

“Emotions are not actable in themselves; acting is doing.” Acting is sometimes described as "behaving believably in pretend circumstances for a theatrical purpose." More to the point, it can also be defined as "playing an action in pursuit of an objective while overcoming an obstacle."

Comedy and Drama – lecture/discussion

Heroes and Villains – lecture/discussion

Character Analysis – lecture/discussion, includes creation of a “character bible” template

Elements of “Good” Story – lecture/discussion

Expression of Emotion in the Human Face – lecture/discussion; introduction to the work of Professor Paul Ekman

Power Centers in a Character – lecture/discussion + improvisation for two volunteer students

Status Transactions – lecture/discussion + improvisation for two volunteer students

The masterclass includes the screening of clips from various live-action and animated films and/or video game cinematics to illustrate essential acting principles.

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