I'm going to outline my key points for my presentation before I actually put it together.
WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL GESTURE?
# Michael Chekhov - first coined the term. Believes a character's psychology to consists of thoughts, feelings and the will (character's objective and motivation). A psychological gesture is a movement that expresses all of that at once.
# Preparation for Actors - a method to help actors get into character. Remind class of the 'my heart is broken' exercise by Ed Hooks and briefly run through it again. (Was going to have class participation but we did the exercise as a class last week so no need.) Doing this can produce a much more natural and powerful performance.
# Preparation for Animators - as animators, we tend of over-gesture, feeling the need to illustrate every word.
"Gestures do not always have to be illustrations of the spoken word. A gesture can express an inner emotional state that might even be in contrast to what the character is saying. A psychological gesture like this can be a powerful tool." ~ Ed Hooks
By using exercises such as the one from Ed Hooks' Acting for Animators book, animators can really get into the character they're animating and tone down the gestures. Enabling them to animate a not only more convincing character but a much more powerful performance. A small gesture can say much more about what the character is really thinking than a big gesture which can hide it.
# Atmosphere - Michael Chekhov also used atmosphere in a conceptual way. He believed that the atmosphere can affect the kind of gestures a character may make. Different places have different atmospheres (a character would act differently if they were on the scene of an accident to if they were in their best friend's kitchen - their behaviour would adjust). Even people have atmospheres. A happy person can bring a different atmosphere into a room than an angry one. My own dad is an example.
CLIP #1: JACK NICHOLSON: JACK NAPIER/JOKER
# Relationship - Carl Grissom is a crime boss who controls the city. Jack Napier is Carl Grissom's second in command. Jack was having an affair with Carl's mistress.
# Before - what happened before this scene. Jack Napier was set up by his boss (sent him to raid a factory, tipped off the police to get him arrested) over an affair with his mistress. Jack was knocked into a vat of chemicals after being struck in the face by a deflected bullet (deflected by Batman).
# The Presence - Joker blatantly pissed off with boss. Walks towards him in intervals, with one hand behind his back and the other by his side (hands behind back = power and confidence, exposes vulnerable parts. Good for posture and opens up airways = gain more energy, feel more confident). Voice is calm but has venom to it, projected to fill the room.
# The Gesture - A small flick of the arm by his side. He stops walking and tenses a bit. Keeping control of himself and situation, however he allows himself to hit boss with the word. Flick of the arm like a mini-hitting gesture or crack of a whip. Wants to the word to sting, as it stings Jack to know he is being put beneath a woman.
An over gesture, for example, would be to slash at the air (wanting to slash at Carl), point aggressively at Carl (accusing and directing all his anger at him).
Instead, this gesture reveals that Jack is bursting with rage, momentarily betray his calmness up to this point. However, he easily returns to his calm composure which is why I say he 'allows' himself this burst, a moment's divulgance to utter rage. It was probably intentional to make Carl feel threatened.
**EDIT** Added next clip and other half of presentation key points.
CLIP 2: TOY STORY: WOODY.
# Relationships - Bo-Peep is Woody's love interest, the feelings are mutual. Buzz and Woody are rivals for Andy's affection.
# Before - What happened before this scene. Woody has seemingly been replaced by Buzz Lightyear as Andy's favourite toy. Woody has just spent the night in the toy chest (previously he would spend nights on Andy's bed) and has just awoken to see Buzz reveal his ink branding given to him by Andy.
# Presence - Woody used to have an important presence in Andy's Room, a sort of leader position. He would call staff meetings and make sure everything is running smoothly. However, since Buzz arrived, Woody's influence seems to be becoming smaller as the toys and Andy pay more attention to Buzz.
# The Gesture - Flustering of the hands. When spoken to by Bo-Peep, he startles and immediately starts looking for a place to put his hands. He speaks calmly but can't get a sentence out, losing control of himself as he seems to have with the situation with Buzz (he has previously tried to downplay Buzz's features and turn the other toys away from him, at which he has failed).
Woody generally over-gestures a lot, in my opinion, particularly when he's angry or frustrated. I don't know if that is intentional as he is a toy but there's not much build up to his big gestures. I suppose this could be considered over gesturing still, as his hands could be making smaller movements. On the other hand though, these are HIS small movements, I think it could be part of his character to move a lot.
The gestures could be bigger though. He could shift his weight more, he could have put his hands near his face or on the back of his neck, he could complete all the gestures he tried to do. He could have acted more startled or obviously bothered instead of as calm as he tried to be.
This gesture reveals the state of his mind when Bo-Peep catches him looking at his shoe. The panic of his hands reflect the panic of his thoughts. His hands trying to find a place to be shows us he is trying to find control of himself and some composure, as to show Bo-Peep he's not 'letting it get to him'.
COMPARISON OF THE CLIPS
# Rivals - The only similarity between these clips is watching a how two different characters deal with a rival. Woody is trying to look cool and not threatened by Buzz, staying in his character. The Joker on the other hand, does not feel threatened and outright kills his rival.
# Control - The scenes were both had an issue of control/dominance. The Joker had control of the scenario. He was not threatened at any point but he did allow himself to release anger in a short, controlled burst. Though it was an explosion of emotion, the Joker did not lose any control over the situation. Refer to presence.
Woody however, has lost control at this point. He ruled the roost previously but now the toys barely hold him in any high regard any more, a few make fun of him to his face. He has lost respect because the toys think he's jealous of Buzz and therefore lost the leadership position he once had. He reflects this by losing control of his body language to Bo-Peep, he doesn't want her to see his weakness. Refer to presence.
IN CONCLUSION: ACTORS VS ANIMATORS
# Preparation - As explained before, Actors use psychological gesture exercises to help them get really into their character, understand their character's psychology. They keep to their character's psychologies and draw gestures from that.
Animators use it much in the same way, though not necessarily through exercises but through sketching and exploring the characters they have to animate.
# Performance - By understanding the characters, particularly the way they think, what they feel and what their objectives are, both Actor and Animators are able to create more powerful performances. Drawing subtle and psychological gestures shows the audience better than they can be told what the character is thinking and feeling.