Thinking about the opening back shot in "Miracle on 34th Street" (see the previous post) got me thinking about the subject of back shots in general. I'm a big fan of back shots (actually back acting, not just isolated poses) in live action, but you don't see them much in animation. That's a shame. Back shots are funny. Where would "The people of Walmart" site be without back shots like the one above?
I understand why animation people avoid them. You can't easily study yourself in a mirror when you're drawing the back. You could draw somebody else's back, but they're not likely to act the scene right. I guess you could act it out yourself in front of a digital camera and play it back.
I wonder how the dancers in the video above did it. How did they know how their dance would look to us? That's a nice dance, isn't it? 'Very effective from behind.
Back acting is different than front acting. It's not just a question of making good silhouettes...back acting is more about timing and context. You have to make the audience delight in imagining what the face they can't see is thinking and doing.
Oh well, I have plenty of back-of-the-head reference. I'll talk about that. For me, back of the head means big ears (above), whether the person has them in front or not.
For the purpose of drawing, the small-eared girl in the upper right (above) should look like the girl in the lower left when she turns her head.
I call your attention to the wispy little neck hairs in the picture. I thought only guys had neck hair! I wonder if girls shave it. Maybe they just let it grow. Imagine what a girl would look like if she cut off all her normal hair but kept her long neck wisps.
I love over-the-shoulder shots, especially when the actor facing front has an extended acting scene. Laying bare your emotions to an impassive lump of hair and tweed in the foreground strikes me as funny. I tried it out in this video from a couple of years ago.
BTW, The best acting moments here come close to what I would have put into similar scenes if I'd been an animator working on an animated film. I really need to assemble a small reel of rough animation showing how I would animate characters using my own style of acting.