How to Animate a Reaction Shot

Reaction shots are the bread-and-butter of junior animators.

On a feature film, once you have graduated from walk cycles and crowd shots, you get given reaction shots to test your mettle.

A reaction shot is where animators first start to get to grips with acting and performance. Just like live-action actors, animated characters on a screen must listen – and react.

Animating a “Take”
An exaggerated reaction shot is also sometimes called a “take”.
There is a large section in the Animator’s Survival Kit on takes, for good reason. The starting point for a take is always a series of rough sketches or thumbnail drawings to help plan out the key poses and the timing of the action.

Planning your animation
One of the biggest challenges encountered by student animators is how to block out a shot from scratch, starting off with nothing but a blank screen and a character rig. In animation you get nothing for free. You start off with a digital puppet, usually in a stiff “T-pose”, and you have to figure out the rest yourself.

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