Ed Hooks – Acting For Animators

ed11122About Ed Hooks

One of the most respected acting teachers in the United States, Ed Hooks is a pioneer of acting training specifically for animators instead of stage actors.   As an actor, he was a theatre professional for three decades and appeared in over 100 television programs and films.

In 1996, Ed Hooks created his Acting for Animators masterclass, and has since given it at all the world’s leading studios, school, institutions, festivals and conferences.  His book “Acting for Animators” (now in Chinese) is a standard text in animation schools worldwide.

Former clients (partial selection):

  • Walt Disney Studios (Los Angeles, California / Sydney, Australia / Orlando, Florida)
  • Blue Sky Studios (White Plains, New York)
  • PDI/DreamWorks (Palo Alto, California)
  • Animal Logic (Sydney, Australia)
  • Ubisoft (Montreal, Toronto, Shanghai)
  • Blizzard Entertainment (Irvine, California)
  • Sony Games (San Diego, California / London, England)
  • Microsoft Games (Seattle, Washington)
  • Electronic Arts (Stockholm, England, Shanghai)
  • Epic Games (Cary, North Carolina)
  • Ringling College of Art + Design, School of Animation (Sarasota, Florida)
  • Filmakademie Baden Wurtemburg (Ludwigsburg, Germany)
  • Vancouver Film School (Vancouver, Canada)
  • Communication University of China (Beijing)
  • Griffith Film School, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia)
  • Sheridan Institute (Toronto, Canada)
  • FMX Animation Festival (Board of Advisors, eight consecutive years) (Stuttgart, Germany)
  • SIGGRAPH (Los Angeles, California)

Acting for Animators Master Class


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.

Who can most benefit from Ed Hooks’ expertise?

Anyone involved in the creative side of an animated production stands to benefit from Ed’s teaching.  Ed understands and can explain universal story and performance appeal.  His service is particularly ideal for a producer or studio that wants to make productions with international appeal.

  • Directors
  • Animators (supervisors, leads and team)
  • Character riggers
  • Writers
  • Producers

3When should you bring Ed Hooks in?

A) Any time

    • There is no time when the creative team, as outlined above, cannot benefit from Ed’s teaching.  His principles are fundamentally critical in understanding how to create believable and powerful animation performances that will move an audience.

B) Pre-production

    • For: directors, producers and/or writers
    • Ed may come in at the very beginning and work with the production decision makers, while scripts and stories are being developed.

C) Production

    • For:  directors, animation supervisors, lead animators, animators
    • Ed can come in as characters are being animated, assess the movement, identify weaknesses and suggest ways to improve character performance

D) Retrospectively

    • Ed is often invited to look back on previous studio projects and analyse the weaknesses and possible areas for improvement.



Ed is able to tailor content to meet the individual requirements of the studio.  Typically, if a studio would like Ed to address issues on a specific project, he will spend the first half day introducing Acting for Animators fundamental theory, followed by specific analysis for the second half.  This format is, however, fully flexible.

Subjects covered include some or all of the following:

  • 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


  • Duration: 1-day master class
  • Class size: 40
  • Location: iacc Studio (3rd Floor, DeTao Masters Academy, Shanghai Institute of Visual Art, 2200 Wenxiang Road, Songjiang, Shanghai 201620)

Ed Hooks’ Acting for Animators master class is also available for private contract.  

Please contact iacc@detaoma.com for more information or to discuss hiring Ed Hooks.