Acting for Animators  book cover
5th Edition

Acting for Animators

  • Available for pre-order on April 25, 2023. Item will ship after May 16, 2023
ISBN 9781032266473
May 16, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
232 Pages 96 B/W Illustrations

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USD $48.95

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Book Description

Ed Hooks' essential acting guidebook for animators has been fully revised and updated in this 5th edition, capturing some of the vast changes that have affected the animation industry in recent years. Written specifically for animation professionals instead of stage and movie actors, this book provides an essential primer for creating empathetic and dynamic character performance and, in the process, shows how the strongest storytelling structure works.

Hooks applies classical acting theory - from Aristotle to Stanislavsky and beyond - to animation, as well as explaining scene structure, character development and the connections between thinking, emotion and physical action. Theory presented here applies to any and all character animation regardless of style or animation technique. Whether your project is stop-motion, 2D, 3D or a blend of techniques, audiences are audiences are audiences, and they have shown up at the theatre or cinema so they can experience and enjoy your story. 

New to this 5th edition:

  • Four new scene-by-scene acting analyses of animated feature films: Flee, Soul, Porco Rosso, and The Triplets of Belleville.
  • A comprehensive and updated section titled ‘Classroom Notes’ which includes a segment on experimental animation, a brief history of acting training for actors and guidance on Motion and Performance Capture technology.
  • Updated online database of Hook’s previous film analyses, all in one place.

Acting for Animators is essential reading for all students and teachers of animation courses.

Table of Contents

Let’s Start with Definitions

  • Acting is behaving believably in pretend circumstances for a theatrical purpose.


  • Action in Pursuit of Objective while overcoming Obstacle
  • We are Narrative-seeking, storytelling animals
  • Action
  • Objective
  • Conflict/Obstacle
  • Long term and Short term Objectives
  • Baymax in a shopping cart
  • Pursuing a Negative Objective

Acting and the CG Pipeline

Animate the Thought (Acting is a Process of Exposing, not of Hiding)

Willing Suspension of Disbelief + Uncanny Valley

Regarding the Animated Documentary




Psychological Gesture

Character Rhythm

The Audience

  • Who is your intended audience?

The 4th Wall

Video Reference

Comedy and Drama (Intro)

Gags Lack Structure

Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy

Show Reels

Character Development

Heroes and Villains

Video Games

  • Empathy vs. Agency in Games
  • Cut-Scenes
  • Humor
  • NPC’s (Non-Player Characters)
  • Character Design & Narrative
  • Blinking – A few More Thoughts
  • Motion Capture/Performance Capture
  • Animating Aliens


Classroom Notes

  • Scenes Begin in the Middle
  • Acting is Doing; Acting is Re-Acting
  • Blinking
  • Eyebrows
  • Animating Dialogue
  • Status Transactions
  • Power Centers
  • The Adrenaline Moment
  • "Ma"
  • Regarding those Talking Dogs in Pixar’s movie Up
  • Experimental Animation
  • Laban Movement Analysis
  • What Does Listening Look Like?
  • Pantomime is not like Regular acting
  • Acting is a Process of Exposing
  • Anger & Yelling
  • Punctuation in Scripts
  • Crying
  • Drunk
  • My Acting Gift to You
  • A Scene is a Negotiation
  • Relationships are how characters feel about one another
  • Mirrors

A Brief History of Acting Theory for Actors

Film Analysis

  • Flee (2021)
  • Soul (2020)
  • Porco Rosso (1992)
  • The Triplets of Belleville (2003)


  • Ed Hooks annotates Glen Keane
  • Ed Hooks annotates Walt Disney’s 1935 Memo to Don Graham
  • Ed Hooks annotates a section from the book The Illusion of Life


  • Becoming an Artist
  • The Future of Animated Storytelling

  • For Teachers
  • Classroom Exercises

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Ed Hooks was a professional actor for almost 30 years, trained in New York, with credits in all media. He is an internationally-recognized acting teacher who has taught in over 35 countries, and he has written several books for actors. Hooks is the first person to apply classical acting theory to animated storytelling.