I have used live action reference many times on many films, especially movies with human characters, such as The Road to El Dorado and Spirit - Stallion of the Cimarron, and especially on action shots where the motion was complex and hard to get right.
|Andy Serkis and Gollum.|
Animators do it all the time, filming themselves or others getting into the role. You'll see it done all the time in documentaries about the making of animated films.
But what if you don't have great reference to hand? One excellent resource is the Youtube Channel "endless reference" which offers, well, endless live action reference - especially for animators. It's a great resource and one we're recommending for all our students. You can find it here.
Using live action reference is something we get all our students to do at Escape Studios. Obviously, the trick is to take the live action and use it to inspire and inform the animation - but without being a slave to it. In the end, the animator's performance must be more interesting and entertaining to watch than the original live action was - else why bother to do it?
For more on the use of live action in animation, and how to incorporate it into your animation in Maya, see this blog post.
The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our BA/MArt (September 2017), follow this link. To apply for one of our intensive 3 month animation short courses, click here.