I really can't overstate just how influential this set of lectures from Uta Hagen has been for me over the last few months. She has such a great way of analyzing a scene and giving it a way to move forward. I've learned more about the psychology of physical acting than I ever really thought I could. I really didn't know what I didn't know.

One of my favorite lines about observation from the lecture I think applies specifically to animation:

"The first thing I learned was how little we are trained to observe ourselves--our behavior. We can always tell somebody how we feel about something, but what we did when we felt a certain way we are unable to describe."

"Inner work can get you in glue. You don't know what foot to put down. If the body isn't there, nothing else is. We talk, we feel, we think; but it comes out of our body. All the thinking and talking and feeling--if the body isn't there, it's useless."

The real gold here is watching the students improve from rehearsal to rehearsal. They get so much better from her suggestions! And the great thing is that she explains why! She adds so much specificity and texture to their scenes.

Now keep in mind that the whole thing is a little over 3 hours long, and there's some swearing, so maybe sit down and watch this in the evening when you're not at work :)

Update: It seems that the original poster of the video has taken the videos down, and probably rightly so. That doesn't mean that you can't still get your hands on these awesome lectures. I tracked down the website that sells it here. You get to learn from a great teacher as well as support the school her husband founded and she taught at. $39.95 is well worth the price of admission if you ask me.